Industry History Continued

From Encyclopedia Britannica:

All operations continued to be performed by hand until factory production of cloth was made possible by the invention of foot- and water-powered machinery for spinning and weaving in the 18th century. This development in turn stimulated the invention of the sewing machine. After several attempts a practical machine was patented in 1830 by Barthelemy Thimonnier, of Paris, who produced 80 machines to manufacture army uniforms. Thimonnier's machines, however, were destroyed by a mob of tailors who feared unemployment. Thimonnier's design used one thread; an American, Elias Howe, improved on it significantly with a lock-stitch machine that used two threads, a needle, and a shuttle. Though patented, it was not accepted in the United States; Howe took it to England, where he sold part of his patent rights. The objections of the U.S. tailors and seamstresses were overcome by a machine designed in 1851 by Isaac M. Singer of Pittstown, New York. When the sewing machine was first introduced, it was used only for simple seams; the more complex sewing operations were still done with a hand needle. The machines before Singer's were hand-powered, but Singer quickly popularized foot-powered machines. Before the second half of the 19th century, the fabric or leather sections of clothing and footwear were cut by shears or by a short knife with a handle about five inches (13.5 centimetres) long and a three-inch tapered blade. All pressing, whether the finished press or underpressing (between sewing operations), continued to be done with the stove-heated hand flatiron. The flatiron and the iron (later steel) needle were for a long time the only major advances in making clothing and footwear since caveman days. Tailors and dressmakers used hand needles, shears, short knives, and flatirons. Footwear was made using hand needles, curved awls, curved needles, pincers, lap stone, and hammers. For many years the sewing machine was the only machine used by the clothing industry. The next major development was the introduction in England in 1860 of the band-knife machine that cut several thicknesses of cloth at one time. It was invented by John Barran of Leeds, the founder of the Leeds clothing industry, who substituted a knife edge for the saw edge of a woodworking machine. The resulting increased cutting productivity motivated the development of spreading machines to spread fabric from long bolts in lays composed of hundreds of plies of fabrics. The height and count of the lay depended on the thickness and density of the fabric as well as the blade-cutting height and power of the cutting machine. The first spreading machines in the late 1890s, often built of wood, carried fabrics in either bolt or book-fold form as the workers propelled the spreading machines manually and aligned the superposed plies vertically on the cutting table, thus making the cutting lay. Although most of the early machines operated with their supporting wheels rotating on the cutting table, on some machines the wheels rode on the floor.