It’s National Sewing Machine Day

It’s National Sewing Machine Day in the USA—a day to celebrate the invention of one of the greatest time-saving devices in America.

From a 1917 magazine ad

If you’ve read any of Isabella’s books, you get a sense of how many women slaved over their sewing to keep their families in decent clothes; or how many women plied their needles 10 to 12 hours a day to earn a living. The sewing machine changed all that.

Dreaming of a new sewing machine. Advertisement by the New Home Sewing Machine Company

One hour of machine sewing produced the amount of work once accomplished by about 15 hours of hand sewing. That kind of statistic placed sewing machines in high demand.

Trade card from The Free Sewing Machine Company

And there were plenty of machines to choose from. Competing manufacturers helped keep prices down, so new machines they were affordable for most middle-class households.

The New Arrival. Undated trade card from New Home Sewing Machine Company

For those families who could not afford to purchase a machine out=right, some companies (like The Free Sewing Machine Company) allowed customers to purchase a machine on time. This was an innovative marketing ploy, since the concept of individuals purchasing on credit was largely unheard of in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

The Sewing Party. An Undated trade card from Domestic Sewing Machine Company

The introduction of the sewing machine made a huge impact on how America produced clothing, bedding, linens, curtains and draperies . . . essentially, any fabric-based item that we wear or use in our homes and businesses.

You can see more images of sewing machines, including trade cards and magazine ads, on Isabella’s Pinterest board.  Click here to visit Pinterest.



6 thoughts on “It’s National Sewing Machine Day

  1. For some reason, I am reminded of Ma’s sewing machine in “These Happy Golden Years” (Laura Ingalls Wilder). Ma is amazed at the work and time this machine saves. These machines must have been quite heavy, but oh how beautiful they are, even in illustrations.

  2. I love to sew and I love this post! I cannot imagine sewing dressed in yards and yards of fabric (not to mention the corset!)…but and OH, the things they sewed…so complicated! Thanks for sharing this peek at another facet of Victorian/Edwardian life that helps us understand Isabella’s writings! XO

  3. I learned to sew on my grandmother’s Singer treadle machine from the 19th century when I was about 12 years old. In 7th grade we had a class in sewing as a regular school subject, but there we used White machines, which were a little different. My mother had a hand powered machine, but I could never do very well in sewing by one hand.

    1. Wow, Patricia, I would have loved to use a treadle machine. They always looked like a fun way to sew (once you got the hang of the treadle) but most of all, they’re just beautiful to look at. I have an old Sears Kenmore my parents bought me when I was in high school. It still works as if it were brand new; but it’s very utilitarian; no decoration at all. Thanks for sharing your memories with us! —Jenny

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