Sewing Though Time

Sewing Though Time

Ancient and Modern

Sewing has been practised throughout history, from ancient times to the present. For both textile artists and hobbyists, it serves as a creative outlet.

Animal hides were sewn together in the Palaeolithic period to create clothing and shelter. Caribou sinew was used by the Inuit to make thread and bone needles. In later times, Europeans who could afford it hired tailors and seamstresses.

In order to keep wearing faded clothing, it was often turned inside out. Clothing was taken apart and repaired after becoming worn or torn.

Sewing implements and other accessories were frequently found in brides’ trousseaus in Europe from the Roman times to the 17th century. Around the world, decorative embroidery was highly regarded. Examples include the Cretan Open Filling stitch, the Japanese stitch, and the Romanian or Oriental Couching stitch. Through active trade routes during the Middle Ages, embroidery techniques were disseminated. Through Spain and Morocco, Middle Eastern techniques reached Southern and Western Europe.

The Birth of Machinery

treddle sewing macine

The development of machinery moved textile manufacturing from homes to factories.

Thomas Saint received a patent for the first sewing machine in the world in 1790.

For further information on Thomas Saint, click here: Thomas Saint sewing machine

To make uniforms for the French army, Barthélemy Thimonnier invented a straightforward sewing machine in 1841.

For further information on , click here: Barthélemy Thimonnier sewing machine.

Isaac Singer created the first sewing machines with quick and precise movement.

For further information about Isaac Singer sewing machine, click here: Isaac Singer sewing machines

Sewing machines were used in the Victorian era to create ready-to-wear clothing for the better off. Textile sweatshops sprouted up in entire business districts in major cities such as London and New York.

One of the few jobs available to women was needlework, but the wages were insufficient to support them.

During this time, tailors started to be associated with more expensive clothing. This status emerged in London during the Dandy fashion of the early 19th century, when new tailor shops popped up all around Savile Row. The stores developed a reputation for producing handmade, high-quality clothing in both more traditional and the newest British fashions.

Modern Hobby

Today, home sewing is primarily a hobby practised in Western nations. Traditional home sewing has come to an end as a result of the affordability of mass produced clothing in stores. The BBC television programme The Great British Sewing Bee, which has been on the air since 2013, attests to the growing popularity of sewing as a fun hobby.

The Japanese Experience

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Traditional clothing in Japan was put together using removable running stitches that allowed the garments to be disassembled and washed separately. At the beginning of the last century, there was a trend toward wearing Western-style clothes. This was mostly because home sewing machines made stitches that were too tight for traditional clothes.

Learning Technology

It is possible to use technology to disseminate information about a culture’s traditional sewing techniques. A Malay sewing class learned how to tailor and sew a traditional men’s Baju Kurung garment using self-paced online tutorials in 3 days as opposed to 5 days in a traditional Malay class.

As textile companies compete for lower-cost labour, the textile industries in Western nations have experienced a sharp decline. Workers in the textile industry who are mechanised or do intricate manual work are still essential to the sector. Many developing nations also rely on small-scale sewing as a source of income.


In most cases, patterns direct the construction of the garment, whether complicated or simple. Some patterns are simply calculated to be measured.

The need for sewing patterns increased as sewing machines became more accessible. American tailor Ebenezer Butterick met the demand by developing paper patterns that could be used by home sewers.. For the majority of the 20th century, sewing patterns were also featured in women’s magazines.

Exclusive custom-fitted high-end fashion designs are on the other end of the spectrum. Numerous draughts and revisions of complicated designs are made. A final pattern could be created in about 40 hours, and a garment could be finished in up to 60 hours. A finished item will either be worn or not based on how it fits.

Sewing enthusiasts frequently use patterns that they have purchased from businesses like Simplicity, Butterick, McCall’s, Vogue, and many others. To make a pattern fit the intended wearer more precisely, a sewer may decide to make changes. Darts and pleats both work to increase or decrease volume.


Simple sewing projects only require a few basic sewing supplies, like a measuring tape and needle. A few additional basic tools may be all that are required to complete more complicated projects. A wide range of functional sewing tools is readily available.

Seams and garments are pressed with a steam iron, and various pressing tools, like a seam roll or tailor’s ham, are used to help shape clothing. The fabric can also be shielded from harm when being pressed with a pressing cloth.

Other uses

Sewing machines are no longer just for machine-making; they are now used for a wide range of tasks, from embroidery and quilting to heavy-duty machines for sewing leather and thick fabrics (such as leather). There are many different presser foot attachments for sewing machines that help with different tasks.

While tailors would draught their own, seamstresses received the pattern. To control fabric stretch, patterns specify whether to cut on the grain or the bias. In the construction of clothing, supporting materials like interfacing, interlining, or lining may be used.

Using the pattern creation tools and virtual sewing machines within these cloth simulation programmes, sewers can now create patterns on the computer and visualise clothing designs.

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