Patents: Singer Sewing Machine

Posted August 12, 2015 by Amanda | 2 Comments

On this day in 1851, American inventor Isaac Merrit Singer was granted a patent for his iconic sewing machine. Although not the first to invent the sewing machine, Singer made important improvements to make the machine more practical and efficient than ever before.


Sewing with a Singer sewing machine / State Library of Queensland

Thanks to increasing affordability and practicality, the Singer sewing machines would find their way into almost every household.


Isaac Merrit Singer / Wikimedia Commons

Isaac Merrit Singer was born on October 27, 1811 in Pittstown, New York. The youngest child of Adam Singer and Ruth Benson, Singer spent time in his youth working at his older brother’s machine shop. In 1839, he obtained his first patent for a machine to drill rock. He sold the patent and with the money earned pursued a career as an actor. Singer formed a troupe known as the “Merritt Players” and went on tour performing on stage for five years. However, in need of a steadier income, Singer returned to the manufacturing business.


Isaac Singer’s U.S. patent 8294 (click to view full patent)

It was while working at machine shop in Boston that he was given a sewing machine to repair. Within a few days, Singer had developed and patented a new design. Singer’s sewing machine was the first to work in a practical way. It could sew 900 stitches per minute, which was over 20 times faster than an accomplished seamstress.


Patent model / Smithsonian Institute

In 1851, Singer established the I.M. Singer & Co., later named Singer Manufacturing Company, and began mass producing his new sewing machines. By using interchangeable parts to build the machines, he was able to cut manufacturing costs significantly.


“All nations use Singer sewing machines” advertisement, c. 1892 / Library of Congress

The sewing machine was a huge success and by 1860, the company was known as the largest sewing machine manufacturer in the world.

Did your family have a Singer sewing machine?

Post written by Amanda

Amanda is the Marketing Communications Manager at Geni. If you need any assistance, she will be happy to help!

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