A brief and roughly stitched together history of the people who invented the sewing machine
Barthelemy Thimonnier – it was a riot!
In the early 1800s a few industrious individuals attempted to improve on Thomas Saint’s primitive sewing machine model, which he patented in 1790 without a prototype. These clumsy attempts all came to naught, until 36-year-old French tailor Barthelemy Thimonnier took up the challenge in 1830 and created the world’s first functioning sewing machine. This contraption involved a hooked needle, which made a chain stitch using only one thread and was capable of 200 stitches a
minute, compared to a tailor’s 30 a minute.
Thimonnier worked with his friend Auguste Ferrand, a mining engineer, who assisted him with construction of the prototype. Although the patent was in both men’s names, it is Thimonnier who is historically most linked to this invention because of what happened next. He opened the world’s first machine-based clothing factory, which was designed for the production of army uniforms. Unfortunately, the only combat they ended up seeing was when the factory was ransacked and then burned to the ground by rioting workers who thought the patent would put them out of work. Thimonnier had to flee for his life, abandoning his invention.
Part 3 – the drama continues across the Atlantic in America…