– Sewing Machines


So I feel it’s pretty easy to find out how they work, but I’m baffled by how it still works. And even more so, has there been any major breakthroughs since it’s original design?

Why is Singer still the best?(or is it)

In: 6

Sewing machines don’t sew, so much as they loop threads around each other. Essentially, it pushes the thread on the needle through the fabric. While the needle is pushed through, the thread on that needle is looped around a second thread on the bottom, and then pulled back up. This process repeats. If you were to remove the bottom thread, the all the stitching comes apart.

I’m not sure I would say Singer is the best, but they’re the most recognized brand for sure.

The basics are pretty much the same today as a hundred years ago. There’s only so many ways to do the standard sewing machine stitch, one really, but newer machines may be able to do different stitches. You may have needed a different machine set up for the different stitch, before.

There have been many sewing machine companies, and you’re very correct in that Singer is probably the most well known. They’ve simply produced a good product, and were literally the first to hit the market. They’ve managed to maintain popularity and good products since their founding. Other companies definitely exist, though. Companies like Brother have developed features that make sewing at home much easier, and Juki is actually the king of sewing machines worldwide. My parents have a Juki from the 80s which is still running strong, and still worth a few hundred bucks.

What is sewing? How does a human sew?

There are several different kinds of stitches, but fundamentally all sewing involves a single thread attached to a single needle, which you pass back and forth between different sides of a large, flat piece of cloth. This passing back-and-forth motion is very difficult for a machine to do (though it should be noted that a similar motion is integral in power looms, the early fruit of the Industrial Revolution).

So the sewing machine of Howe (of which the Singer design is a minor variation) uses *two* threads. Each thread lies on a different side of the piece of cloth. One thread is looped through a needle, which pokes down into the cloth and then back up. As it does this, it leaves a little loop of thread on the other side of the cloth.

Meanwhile, another piece of machinery (called the *bobbin*) puts a second piece of thread through that loop.

The process is actually slightly more complicated, and it down in such a way that there’s a knot at every meeting instead of just a long free-running thread constrained by a channel made of a series of loops.

>And even more so, has there been any major breakthroughs since it’s original design?

Honestly? Not really. Sewing machines are often electric instead of foot-powered these days, and sometimes the cloth is moved by an automated system instead of a woman holding it, but the central stitching mechanism is almost the exact same.

>Why is Singer still the best?(or is it)

I can’t speak to quality of different sewing machines, but I can say that almost all sewing machines on the market continue to use the Singer patented method to work.

There were all kinds of designs in the beginning. And with each new advancement the machines were able to do more complicated stitching.

Anytime you want to learn about older tech I suggest you watch a show from the mid 90s called “The Secret Life of Machines” with Tim Hunkin. Tim has remastered all the episodes to HD and uploaded them to his YouTube channel. Here is the episodes titled The Secret Life of the Sewing Machine. https://youtu.be/8lwI4TSKM3Y

I’d also recommend this video from Bernadette Banner as she talks about one of the earliest chain stitch machines. She also makes all her own Edwardian and Victorian era clothes by hand. https://youtu.be/X6ZNylvfER4q

Thank you all for the replies! It’s fascinating to hear it explained on an easier level! Cheers to ELI5 for their patience and knowledge.