While one can thank the Americans for inventing so many amazing products, the honor for the sewing machines too belongs to them. Like the Electric Telegraph which holds special significance to the commercial world and the Reaper and Mower to the agriculturalist, the sewing machines are a great boon to the domestic life. Well, wait! The use now is not just limited to the domestic purposes; it has outweighed everything to be a commercially very useful product.
When the world, earlier, considered man as the labor class and machinery were invented to save cost and increase efficiency, the invention of sewing machines made a new statement in this male dominated world. In fact, this is the only machine that can be chiefly tagged as an invention for woman’s benefit. And over the period, this machine has proved its worth to emancipate man from a great deal of toil and laborious works.
Anticipating The Birth- A Brief History!
Dating back to the early 18th century, when the United States and Western Europe were on the cusp of Industrial Revolution; that was the time when the world was undergoing a transition into the age of manufacturing. Before that sewing was predominantly done by hand, introduced by ancient prehistoric cultures, which made it very painstaking. It was only during the 18th century, with the invention of the sewing machine that the mechanized stitching of fabric marked its way.
The patent for the first mechanical device invented was acquired by German Engineer, Charles Fredrick Wiesenthal in the year 1755. The next version of it to follow was in the year 1790 when another model was designed by Thomas Saint, an Englishman. It was then constructed in a way to aid in the crafting of canvas goods, leather bridles, leather saddles, shoes and nautical sails. With a satin stitch style feature, this machine helped the tradesman in stitching heavy materials.
And after 1800, there were lots of prototypes being designed from England, Scotland, Austria and France. Even two residents from the United States, John Adams Doge, and John Knowles created another prototype in 1818, but those machines were only able to stitch short lengths of fabrics and to make the machine work, settings need to be repeated and again.
In 1829, the designs of sewing machines witnessed a remarkable revolution when the design for chain stitched sewing machine was so successful that it even helped Frenchman Barthélemy Thimmonie to establish a mechanical fabric factory, thus manufacturing uniforms for French Army.
Competition in the States
The battle for the perfect design for machines too went in the states, and there were lots of individual attempts. And finally in 1850, four big companies namely Singer Manufacturing Company, Howe Machine Company, Grover and Baker and Wheeler and Wilson Manufacturing Company, joined to form the Sewing Machine Combination and became a powerful single monopoly. This was the first patent pool in the history of America where the companies were made to sign an agreement, thereby cross-licensing their patents.
In 1877, the combination patent became obsolete, and it was the time for the small manufacturers that flourished exponentially. With zero requirements of paying the cartel royalties, it helped in the spread and growth of the sewing machine industry.
Different Types of Sewing Machine
With the expansion and growth of the industry, today’s world is flooded with so many different models of sewing machines. From basic to the most sophisticated versions, every identical machine is meant for different types of use. While any expert can guide you about the correct product, it is also essential for you to know the different types and features. So, what’s the wait for? Go through the mentioned points and polish your knowledge!
- Industrial Sewing Machines: As the name indicates, these versions are meant for factory use. With a very strong built, with gears, connecting rods, housing, and body made of high-quality metals like Aluminum, these machines are designed for long term and professional use. While a particular type of machine can stitch shirt cuffs, another type may be used to put the waistband in jeans. Larger in size than that of the domestic models, these high priced machines have two types of motors- servo and clutch, which are generic and can be easily used in any brands. The motors come with different components that are mounted to the underside of the table. The industrial types are divided primarily into four types-
- Flat Bed: Quite alike in design and construction to that of the traditional machines, with the arm and needle extending to the flat base of the machine, these types are used mainly for sewing together flat pieces of fabric.
- Cylinder Bed: With a narrow and horizontal column, this machines served just the opposite functions and used for sewing saddles and shoes. The cylinder has a diameter of 5 cm to 16 cm and is also used for stitching cuffs.
- Post Bed: With vertical column rising to the flat base of the machine, the vertical column consists of bobbins and feed loopers. The height of the column is usually ranging from 10 cm to 45 cm; these machines are used for boot making, glove making and attaching emblems.
- Of The Arm: This type is not that common where the worker needs to manually push the material through the axis of the horizontal column. This type of machines is used for seaming shoulders and sleeves.
- Domestic Sewing Machine: The common name in the household, this type of machines is designed basically for homemakers and stitching common items. One can stitch different types of materials in these machines but cannot carry on sewing the heavy duty stuff. Performance is pretty slow compared to the industrial versions and working for 5 hours at a stretch heats up the motor. Depending on its various facilities and functions, these versions have been divided into four types.
- Manual Sewing Machine: This is the vintage type of sewing machines and is extremely durable. One needs to control it to make it work manually. With very lesser features than that of electronic or computerized versions, the whole system works on a wheel attached to its side and a foot pedal. Composed of heavy metals, they are better suited for light weight fabrics.
- Electronic Sewing Machines: This is quite an upgraded version compared to the previous models. The stitching process becomes very easy with the help of the single motor, which gives power to the needle. The speed depends on the amount of pressure on the electronic foot pedal. The side of the machine has a dial that functions to control stitching patterns and length. While these are the basic features that one can find in any electronic versions, the high-grade ones are even loaded with automatic button hole stitch, automatic tension setting, and automatic thread cutter, easing out the process even more. With its help, multiple types of fabrics can be sewed.
- Computerized Sewing: With LED or LCD, instead of buttons and dials, these make the sewing process even easier. This type of machines is loaded with so many features and functions. This type of machines can even remember few previous sewing settings and can automatically load the tension. Even there are more advanced versions available, which can even sew embroidery stitches. One can even design a personalized version in the computer and link it to the machines via USB port. Owing to its various functions, the price is very high for these types of machines. But this becomes a favorite choice because of its stitching of all type of materials and that too at a faster rate.
- Overlocker Machines: With the help of these machines, one can automatically cut the edges and sew. The cutter helps in creating a thickened seam very quickly and easily. With a speed of 1000-9000 rpm, these machines are used for hemming, edging and seaming. for the stitching, these machines use multiple needles and 2-9 threads. Basically, these type of machines is not a replacement but an addition to regular sewing
Depending on creating the different types of stitches that these machines are capable of, it has been divided again into seven different types.
- Lockstitch Machine: In this type of machines, two threads, upper and the lower one is used which intertwine in the hole of the fabric. With the help of the spindle, the tension mechanism is created and the thread from the spool through the arm finally runs through the needle. The bobbin, on the other hand, holds the lower thread and is kept in the lower section of the sewing machine.
- Over Edging Machine: It is similar to overlocker machines in functions and can be used for decorations and overlocking, also known as over edging or merrowing.
- Embroidery Machine: This machine is used to do embroidery work on fabrics. The embroidered machines are available in the market in a computerized version. With a large touch screen, inbuilt design software, auto threading features, USB interface, design file storage system and embroidery advisory software, this helps in creating the design patterns more easily and quickly.
- Button Holler Machine: Of late, one can find an inbuilt button holler embedded in the modern machines which were not present in the older machines. A machine which has a lock stitch can easily make button holes with a button holler
- Button Attachment Machine: To attach buttons in fabrics, this machine should be used. Although a normal chain stitch can also do the work for you, this machine helps you to do automatically.
- Bar Tacking Sewing Machine: This machine helps in a making a series of stitches that is used to hide any tear in garments. Its use can be seen in belt loops, pleats, buttonholes, corners of collars, pocket openings,
- Double Needle Sewing Machines: This machine uses two bobbins and two needles, thus forming a parallel row of lockstitch. The distance between the two parallel stitches can be adjusted and depends on the distance between the needle bars and the two needles. With this machine, decorative stitches can be made.
Introduction to Cutting Tools
So, when you are a beginner, you must be very aware of the different type of tools that is needed in the sewing process. Although scissors are the most vital equipment and have been in use since the time of the Mesopotamians, but can this ancient version of 4000 years old, only serve the purpose? Definitely no! Know what need to be in store.
- All Purpose Scissors: Simply use this scissor for the multipurpose The reason? The standard craft or sewing scissors can protect the other tools from wearing out fast.
- Standard Tailor’s Scissor: Typically, these are made with a blunt blade and a sharp edge. The blunt edge prevents the fabric from catching on the blade, preventing fabric damage.
- Pinking Shears: Getting a zig zag pattern on the fabric is essential to prevent it from unraveling, and pinking shears exactly do that with the serrated blades.
- Scalloping Shears: Functionally similar to that of the pinking shears with the difference that they help in getting rounded or scalloped cuts on the material.
- Bent Handled Shears: For better precision and comfort, using this type of shears will keep the shear flush with the surface of the table. The bent lower handles help in achieving so.
- Thread Clippers: This is mainly used for nipping extra parts or threads of the fabric that might have unraveled or frayed.
- Buttonhole Scissors: This type of scissors come equipped with notches on the blades that allow you in making a buttonhole without the need of cutting the edge of the fabric.
- Quilting Scissors: The most common types that you will find in this form are rag quilting snips and soft touch spring action shears. While the former can make the perpendicular cut to the seam of a quilt, the later allows you to cut heavy materials.
- Embroidery Scissors: Embroidery requires a lot of precision, and you need to have the right form of tool for trimming. There are many different types of embroidery scissors available in the market that allows having the perfect trimming without actually damaging the fabric.
- Rotary Cutters: For thorough angles, this type of scissor, looking like that of a pizza blade can be used.
Tips: Once you have made a collection of these tools, store them correctly, and they will last for a long time. Do remember not to use shears and fabric scissors on any other materials. Keep them sharpened to achieve refined cut while you’re working.
Different Types Of Sewing Thread
While the fabric usually comes under the light of scrutiny always, threads are also a very important thing that helps in holding the materials together. Hence, choosing the right thread is a necessity to get the desired result. Read about them here to learn more!
- Cotton Thread: This type of thread is used for fabrics such as cotton, rayon, and linen. Owing to their heart resistance capacity, this type of thread is widely used in the workplace. The texture of such thread varies from rough to smooth and to depend on the fabric; the various textures are used.
- Polyester Thread: This type of threads can be used for various reasons. They are more elastic compared to that of cotton threads. Thus they can be used in a bit stretchy fabrics like synthetic fabrics and knitted fabrics.
- Silk Threads: Made from natural silk fibers, they can be used in creating basting or sewing in very delicate and thin fabrics.
- Nylon Threads: They are strong, durable, flexible and at the same time light weight. Thus they are very perfect for stitching materials like leathers, canvas, suede, fleece, vinyl and tricot.
- Wool Threads: They are mainly used in embroidery works and various heavier fabrics such as linen, canvas, wool and lightweight denim.
- Elastic Thread: This type of threads is useful in sewing projects that use techniques like crimping, gathering, and smocking for embroidery. They are also used in knitted and crotched fabrics as trace yarns.
- Heavy Duty Threads: Mainly used for making upholstery and outdoor gears and also incorporated in stitching heavy fabrics and materials.
Apart from the basic types, there are many variants which are basically a combination of two or more types of threads. This way, the quality gets enhanced.
So, while you have gained enough knowledge on the preparatory tools and techniques, sewing can be carried on very efficiently now. But while the above points can help you in finding the right material and tool for an amazing sewing experience, it’s the time for preparation. That’s right! Your fabric too needs to undergo a preparatory phase before getting stitched.
Prepping Up the Fabric!
Fabrics are not any exception, and this too needs preparation to work according to your expectations. Fabric is arguably an essential thing in a stitching process, without which the sewing process wouldn’t have survived. Gear up yourself, and your fabric to carry on everything with ease.
- Straighten The Grain Of The Fabric: First and foremost, a thorough inspection of the grains of the fabrics is a must. You may find a crosswise grain that will run parallel to the cut edges, or a lengthwise grain that will run to the self-finished edge of the fabric. Even there are some off-grain fabrics which happen when the grains are not perpendicular perfectly. So correcting them is the most important thing to get the correct shape once you start stitching. Spot a crosswise thread to the cut edge of the fabric and with the help of a guide cut the new edge of the fabric. Use a reference to a crosswise strip to make the rectifying procedure easier. In the case of loosely woven fabric, try to pull one crosswise thread and remove it from the fabric completely. Then cut through the gap that is left behind by the thread.
- Serge The Cut Edges Of The Fabric: The next important step to prevent it from unraveling when you are laundering it or making sew patterns on the fabric.
- Pre-wash The Fabric: Many fabrics have a tendency of shrinking significantly. So pre-washing them will help you and not ruin your project. Different types of fabrics can be washed in different ways. While some can be just hand washed or machine washed, the others need to be dry cleaned. Usually, the care instruction is provided by the manufacturer, and you can simply follow this.
- Iron Out The Fabric: After the initial steps of preparation, iron out the fabrics and make sure to use the optimum heat for each type of fabrics. Once, it is done, you can finally use the fabric or can simply store it for later use.