All About Sewing Machines

Written by: Alison Cole

By: Alison Cole

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History of Sewing Machines

Prior to the invention of sewing machines, clothes and other materials were sewn by hand. Hand sewing is an art form that was practiced over 20,000 years ago. During those days, sewing needles made of bone or animal horns and thread made of animal sinew were used. In the beginning of 14th century, iron needles were invented and later in the 15th century eyed needles were introduced.

It is believed that the first known attempt for a workable sewing machine was framed in 1790 by Thomas Saint. In 1800, sewing machine was invented and by the mid-nineteenth century it became popular among the public. After Thomas Saint, various attempts were made for inventing a sewing machine. But, all of them turned unsuccessful.

In 1830, Barth�lemy Thimonnier-a French tailor- came out with the first functional sewing machine. It used only one thread and a hooked needle for a chain stitch. Later in 1834, Walter Hunt came with an idea for double-thread sewing machine and it was regarded as America's first successful sewing machine. The machine devised by Walter Hunt was a straight-seam sewing machine that used reciprocating eye-pointed needle and an oscillating shuttle.

Following Walter Hunt, Elias Howe developed a machine which had the same features as that of Hunt's sewing machine. After Elias Howe, Isaac Merit Singer patented a similar machine and was regarded as the first commercially successful machine. Singer's machine included a straight eye-pointed needle and transverse shuttle, a table to support the cloth horizontally, a vertical presser foot to hold the material against the upward stroke of the needle, and an overhanging arm to hold the presser foot. Instead of a hand crank, Singer's machine used a foot treadle similar to that of a spinning wheel. Helen Augusta Blanchard, Allen Wilson, John Bradshaw, Charles Miller, and James Edward Allen Gibbs were the other contributors who produced a remarkable framework for sewing machines.

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Types of Sewing Machines

There are three types of sewing machines- mechanical sewing machines, electronic sewing machines, and computerized sewing machines. Since their introduction in 1800 till 1960's, all sewing machines were mechanical. Mechanical sewing machines are controlled by a rotary wheel. They have knobs and dials to make changes in the tension or the length or width of the stitch.

Lockstitch sewing machines make use of a hook and a bobbin thread to create stitch patterns, whereas chain stitch machines use a looper to form stitches. One of the major drawbacks of chain stitching is that it is very weak and the stitch can easily be pulled apart. In addition to lock stitching and chain stitching machines, there are blind stitch and buttonhole-and-button-sewing machines that use a spreader to create stitches.

Mechanical sewing machines are less expensive and are the simplest type of sewing machine in terms of build. Bernina 1008, Kenmore 11101, Singer 6038, Elna 2005, Kenmore Mini, Kenmore 15212, and Sears Kenmore 15218 are some of the mechanical sewing machines available in the market.


By the year 1970, electronic sewing machines became popular. There are more features in an electronic sewing machine than in a mechanical sewing machine. Instead of turning knobs or dials, electronic sewing machines use button to adjust length or width of the stitch. Electronic sewing machines have motors; each one is assigned with a specific task and is run by electricity. Singer 7442, Singer 7462, Singer CE-100 Futura, Elna 3230, and Janome Decor Excel 5124 are some instances of electronic sewing machines.

Another type is the computerized sewing machine, which is very fast and easy to use. Computerized sewing machines are similar to electronic sewing machines. They use the same chips and stepper motors that are used in electronic machines. Besides, they posses a microprocessor which helps the sewing machine to accept new information in a card form and create stitching patterns based on the information loaded in the card. Singer CE-200 Quantum Futura, Singer Quantum XL-6000, Brother SE270D, and Janome 8080 are some examples of computerized sewing machine.

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Vintage Sewing Machines

Sewing machine is one of the key inventions that have helped to shape the modern world. There are many popular vintage sewing machines. Most popular vintage sewing machine companies trading over the Internet are Bradbury, Singer, Jones, Frister and Rossmann.

Vintage sewing machines are both collectible and usable. Old sewing machines are still popular because they are well-engineered, well-made workhorses. The value of a vintage sewing machine is great. There are a number of variables involved in determining the value of an old sewing machine; they are condition and completeness of the machine, rarity of the machine and geographic location of the machine.

Most vintage sewing machines date back to the beginning of the 1900's. Most of them are still very popular. Singer machine models 301A, 221 Featherweight and 66 are the popular vintage sewing machines. Of these, the Singer Featherweight 221 is a classic model manufactured by the company between 1933 and 1964. It is a 'collectible' of the first order and is featured on many Web pages which cater to antique sewing machine collectors.

Vintage sewing machines can be bought from stores or antique shops. Some suppliers of vintage sewing machines offer certificates of guarantee, or even warranties.

Before buying a vintage machine, check for authenticity and buy only from trustworthy sellers. Online auctions are dangerous places to buy expensive vintage sewing machines. As buyers don't know anything about the seller, they may cheat in the course of dealing. There are many helpful sites on the Internet providing relevant information about vintage sewing machines. EBay is popular among vintage sewing machine collectors.

Many individuals are now using vintage sewing machines as decorative pieces at home. They may be well-placed in a hallway, entryway, or a family room to showcase the beautiful craftsmanship. So if you possess a vintage sewing machine, take good care of it by consulting an antique dealer to find out the proper way to clean and maintain it. Vintage sewing machines are always an asset for future generations.

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Heavy Duty Sewing Machines

Sewing machines are of different types, mechanical sewing machines, electronic sewing machines, home sewing machines, computerized sewing machines, and industrial or commercial sewing machines. Of the different types of sewing machines, heavy duty sewing machines are meant for a high production environment.

If you are working with heavy fabrics, then heavy duty sewing machines would be the right choice. Heavy duty sewing machines can perform all sewing tasks such as buttonhole, blind hem, monograms, quilting, as well as decorative sewing. Ideal for continuous applications, heavy duty sewing machines include additional equipments for doing heavy work.

Available in a wide range of models, these machines are well suited for stitching products such as bags, auto, luggage, boat and furniture upholstery, tarps, tents, awnings, outdoor clothing, covers, and much more.

Most heavy duty sewing machines offer stitching speeds up to 1000 plus stitches per minute. They are simple and easy to operate. Heavy duty sewing machines are designed to work with all type of fabrics ranging from lightweight fabrics such as chiffon and silk to heavyweight fabrics such as duck, denim, and canvas. Built-in needle threader, extension bed and free arm design are among the other characteristics of heavy duty sewing machines.

Singer, Euro-Pro, Janome, and Brother are some of the leading manufacturers of heavy duty sewing machines. While purchasing sewing machines, most of these companies offer accessories such as eight presser feet, bobbins, spool cap, assorted needles, twin needles, and much more. Singer 450083 Heavy Duty Professional Sewing Machine, Janome L 344 Heavy Duty Sewing Machine, White model 4042, and Brother Sewing Machine PS33 are some manufacturers of heavy duty sewing machines.

A wide assortment of heavy duty sewing machines are available in today's market. Normally, their price ranges between $100 and $500. Nowadays, it is possible to purchase heavy duty sewing machines online. Websites such as eBay and BizRate make it easier to buy heavy duty sewing machines.

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Quilting Sewing Machines

Quilting is an art of incorporating many needlework skills. Quilts are sewn together from hundreds of small pieces of fabric. Quilting sewing machines hold the layers of cloth together by attachments. Many manufacturers produce machines with quilting capacity.

Some of the sewing machines having quilting capabilities are Brother PC 3000 Electronic sewing machine, Brother PC 6000 Electronic sewing machine etc. Their features include: a walking foot for sewing multiple layers of fabric, clear quilting foot for precise team allowances when piecing.

George sewing machine is a quilting sewing machine manufactured by APQS (American Professional Quilting Systems).This machine is powered by a quiet, covered DC motor and utilizes a hopping foot. It produces superior stitches. Its features include the following: weight 37 lbs, voltage 120V, single stitch function, two - stage needle positioner, handcrafted from aircraft grade aluminum, variable needle speed etc.


Juki TL 98Q is a high quality quilting sewing machine. Its features include the following: hand lift raises foot to 9mm, automatic needle stop up/down button, presser foot presser is easily adjustable, knee lever raises foot to 12 mm, a 1500rpm maximum sewing speed.

Pfaff Grand quilter is a quilting sewing machine which has a larger working area. It can make 1600 stitches per minute. This makes it easy for stitching quilts and stitch long pieces of fabric such as draperies and home decorating projects. Its features include the following: pre-tension adjustment keeps the stitches even and exact on fabric, automatic stitch control gives perfect stitches irrespective of thickness of the fabric.

Singer 132Q 32 stitch sewing machines, a quilting sewing machine has the following features: 5 -step buttonhole, quilting extension table, push button reverse, extended work surface, lightweight for convenient portability, and 18 built-in stitch patterns.

Quilting sewing machines can be bought from retailers or through Internet. There are many sites available in the Internet for purchase of sewing machines. Quilting sewing machines are affordable to all customers.

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Computerized Sewing Machines

Computerized sewing machines are similar to electronic sewing machines. The difference between the two is that the computerized sewing machine has a microprocessor. The microprocessor helps the computerized sewing machine to accept new information in a card form; it then creates patterns that are loaded on to the card. Computerized sewing machines are produced with on-board computer chips.

All computerized sewing machines can be set up to create designs which are automatically generated by the program without any help in guiding the material and deciding the pattern. Singer XL-1000 is a good computerized sewing machine. The features of Singer XL-1000 are the following: sews 750 stitches per minute, 25 year manufacturer warranty, free shipping,

Computerized sewing machines have a lot of features, some of them are: automatic needle threader, solid metal construction, multiple needle positions, start or stop button, mirror imaging, can perform 103 stitch functions, top rotary drop-in bobbin hook system, LCD screen displays stitch length, width adjustment, stitch patterns, needle positions etc., sews through multiple layers of denim, programmable quilting sewing machine, three styles of one step button holes include keyhole, round tack, and bartack.

Computerized sewing machine includes the embroidery machine also. SE270D sewing/embroidery machine is a computerized sewing machine. Its features include: new quick load thread cassette system that threads the needle automatically.

DC3050 D�cor computerized sewing machine is used for sewing curtains, comforters, custom pillows, slipcovers etc. Features of this machine are digital LED display, fully computerized, external feed balancing dial, memorized needle up or down, immediate stitch selection, superior feed system, built-in needle threader, 15 built-in needle positions, 50 stitches including quilting stitches etc.

A Computerized sewing machine's cost ranges from $799 to $2999.

Computerized sewing machines can be purchased online or from local dealers. The payment can be made by using master card, bank draft, bank cheque or cash.

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Long Arm Sewing Machines

Long arm sewing machines are different from models such as light weight sewing machines, medium-duty sewing machines, heavy duty sewing machines, and special purpose sewing machines.

Long arm sewing machines are Compound Feed sewing machines. They can be used for sewing medium and heavy weight materials. Features include: 18 inch long arm, auto lubrication by pump, selection of special needle gauge, safety clutch device protecting hook, vertical-axis twice large rotary hook etc. Long arm sewing machine also includes Zig Zag TONY H-301L Zig Zag Sewing Machine (Large Hook) for Mid & Heavy Material. It is used for making leather bags, shoes etc. It is also used in garment industries.

The Ontarian 300 is a long arm sewing machine produced by OSA (Ontario Sewing Automation). This long arm sewing machine has the speed of a standard 11" sewing machine. It gives the clearance under the arm of up to 72 inches. This machine is used for stitching tents, greenhouse covers, truck tarpaulins; reinforced swimming pool safety covers etc.

Juki TL98Q long arm sewing machine has the following features: easy bobbin replacement, extended sewing area, automatic needle threader without eye strain, knee lifter lever helps to lift the presser foot without using hands, sews heavy weight materials easily, machine, foot pedal switch for thread trimming increases sewing efficiency, even feed foot helps this type of machine to produce beautiful seams when sewing velvet and georgette.

Some long arm sewing machines have free space measuring 420mm width which allows the operator to handle a large sewing product easily.

Delkar Machine Company produces long arm sewing machines. These long arm sewing machines are used to stitch golf bags, filter bags, car covers, airplane covers, parachutes, aircraft fabric covers, awnings etc..

Long arm sewing machines can be purchased on-line or from local stores. Payment can be made using credit card, Master card etc.

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Domestic Sewing Machines

Sewing machine is a mechanical or electromechanical machine used to join fabrics using thread. It can create a wide variety of plain or patterned stitches. Sewing machines were introduced in the 1800s; it is one of the most important discoveries in the textile industry.

Of the different types of sewing machines, domestic sewing machines are the perfect tool for sewing. By the mid-nineteenth century, domestic sewing machines found a place in all U S homes to help women in the home production of clothing.

Introduced as a boon to the homemaker, domestic sewing machines are mainly used for domestic purposes and are manufactured to perform different tasks such as creation of buttonholes, stitching buttons on to the piece of clothing etc. Even though there are sewing machines that stitch using one, three, four or more threads, most of the domestic sewing machines use a two thread stitch called the lockstitch.


Also known as home use sewing machines, domestic sewing machines do not have feed dogs that pull the fabric to be sewn under the needle. As they don't have feed dogs, one has to pull the fabric with their hand. There are three basic types of domestic sewing machines-mechanical, electronic, and embroidery machines.

Lightweight sewing machine, straight stitch only sewing machine, embroidery only sewing machine, single-speed mini sewing machine, double-stitch double-speed home sewing machine and battery-operated handheld sewing machine are some of the domestic sewing machines available in the market.

Domestic Sewing Machine Company and Janome are some of the leading manufacturers of domestic sewing machines. Apart from providing sewing machines, they offer a wide range of accessories such as belts, bobbins, bobbin case, carrying case, fluids, guides, needles, organ, needle plates, presser feet, software, thread, and thread holders. Nowadays, it is possible to purchase domestic sewing machines through the Internet. EBay and Bizrate are some of the Internet dealers of domestic sewing machines.

While purchasing domestic sewing machines, be cautious to select the one that suits your needs and price range. Before purchasing domestic sewing machines, it is very important to determine the need for the machine, whether it is for mending or hemming, creating designer clothes, or for embroidery. Test the machine yourself once you have decided what sewing machine is best for you.

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Compare Sewing Machines

As there is a myriad of sewing machines in the market, it is always better to compare sewing machines before purchasing one. Comparison of sewing machines will enable the customers in finding the sewing machine that fit their needs, besides; it will help consumers in saving considerable amount of money.

To make sure that you are getting the best possible deal, it is advisable to compare sewing machines based on their price and performance. Normally, the price range of sewing machine falls between $20 and $1000. Referring reviews posted by other consumers and comparing the prices of sewing machines will help the consumers in making a right decision while purchasing sewing machines.

Today, there are several websites that offer simple guidelines to consumers in purchasing a quality sewing machine. Epinions.com, smarter.com, sortprice.com, bizrate.com, mysimon.com, and shopping.yahoo.com are some of the websites that allow visitors to compare prices of sewing machines.

For comparison of products, websites provide you with a list of sewing machines of different make and model. From the list provided, select a particular sewing machine you wish to compare. The website will provide you with a chart comparing the selected machine with the others available in the market.

Websites compare sewing machines available in the market based on factors such as type, price, performance, threading, and brand of sewing machine. The result of comparison is posted on the websites to provide the public an overview of sewing machines. Apart from listing prices and features of sewing machines, they provide product rating and review forms for customers.

Certain websites provide comparison chart that shows feature by feature comparison of sewing machines. Consumersearch.com is one such website that carries out feature by feature comparison of sewing machines. Besides websites, there are magazines that perform comparison study of various sewing machines.

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About the author:

Sewing Machines provides detailed information on Sewing Machines, Industrial Sewing Machines, Embroidery Sewing Machines, Antique Sewing Machines and more. Sewing Machines is affiliated with Portable Steam Cleaners.


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