The Treadle Sewing Machine

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The Treadle Sewing Machine

Pictured is my Singer treadle sewing machine dating to about 1901, previously my mother's and my grandmother's.

Many inventors modified and improved sewing machines through the 1800s. Elias Howe and Isaac Merritt Singer are credited with the foot treadle and these machines became very popular. On the industrial front they enabled improvements to be made in the manufacture of almost anything that required stitching. In the field of clothing, ready to wear came into being, creating thousands of 'sweat shop' jobs, mainly for women and the demise of most of the genteel dressmakers and their made to measure hand sewn creations.

On the domestic front the treadle sewing machine became one of the first 'must have' home appliances. It enabled women to make their own clothes. It was economic and quick and fun to experiment and keep up with fashion. Craft work could also be explored and many items made to improve the home. For many decades into the 20th century a sewing machined was a coveted possession, until women got fed up with doing it themselves and reverted to paying someone else!

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