The sewing machine is a sophisticated machine tool. Similar problem to the first aeroplane, there were many different design features which needed to be right before the thing would work at all.

Here’s an animation of the clever way the machine makes its lockstitch.

If you prefer something slower, here’s a pdf with detail about the mechanism.

Here’s an entertaining UK documentary about the history of sewing machine mechanisms (26 mins.)

Another documentary about the history of sewing machines, this time from the US and not free, Still Stitching (100 mins.).

Machines have to be manufactured. Here’s an amazing (silent) documentary about the huge factory in Scotland which made Singer black and gold machines in their heyday (70 mins.). Also incidentally a clear reminder about changes in manufacturing. That was before computers and laser measuring. 80 years ago the film was made to show off marvellous modern methods !

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