Stitches in Time: - - - - - - - - -
- - - - - 100 Years of Machines and Sewing

June 4 - September 26, 2004

Intro - - - Technology - - - Machines - - - Impact - - - Quotes - - - Inventors


The Singer Featherweight --- The Eldredge Automatic --- Wheeler and Wilson --- More machines

Here are some of the sewing machines displayed during this exhibit at the Museum of American Heritage.

The Singer Featherweight

Standard Sewing Machine Company engineers had perfected a machine they called Sewhandy. It had all the latest features: built-in-motor, light, reverse mechanism, fully encased lower mechanism, and a new-style, smaller balance wheel. This well-balanced machine operated without walking over the sewing table.

Singer bought Standard in 1929. With the best features of the Sewhandy, combined with Singer's concepts, the Singer Featherweight 221 was born. This 11-pound model, which performed like a factory-type machine, became one of the most popular ever sold.

The 221 used all attachments, had a full-rotary mechanism and was quiet, efficient, and almost free of vibration. The owner could place the 221 in its special carrying case and store it without taking up a lot of space. The machine was a favorite with college girls; sales always increased when the new term started.
Interestingly, Singer did not place the model number of the machine on its finished products until the 1950s, which makes the identification of older machines a bit problematic.

The Eldredge Automatic

c. 1900 - 1915
The Eldredge Automatic was made by National Machine Co. It is a foot powered treadle machine that sews chain stitch (i.e. no bobbin thread). National Machine might have been given the patent rights by Wilson and Gibbs.

Wheeler and Wilson

Wheeler and Wilson, 1850-1854
This early lock stitch machine incorporated a rotary hook mechanism. The fabric fed in from left to right as the operator worked the foot treadle. A wide leather belt of the type used in machine shops of the era was used to drive the sewing mechanism.

More machines

Florence Sewing Machine Co 1850-1860

Manhattan Sewing Machine Co., circa 1850

Jones & Co, Manchester, England 1859

Singer Model 27, 1895-1899

Singer Model 66 treadle machine, 1923-24
At least 83 different decal patterns adorned various models of Singer machines.

Singer, 1925

Montgomery Ward "Damascus", circa 1920

Wheeler & Wilson Model 8, 1870

Elna #1, circa 1935-38
The first free-arm machine, drop-in rotary bobbin.




Elna Supermatic, 1950-51
First machine for home use with drop-in discs or cams to create a variety of designs. Manufactured at Elna's Tavaro Works.
Made from a light weight alloy, it was easily portable at 18 lbs.







Intro - - - Technology - - - Machines - - - Impact - - - Quotes - - - Inventors

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