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The Art of Sewing

Dara M. McAllister

Brigham Young University – Idaho

The Art of Sewing


Sewing has been around for many years. It was a simple task and in some ways still is. Sewing
has changed a lot through the years. Now as the world is becoming more reliant on technology,
the technology has to change for sewing as well. The once really simple task of sticking two
things together with needle and thread is now starting to get more difficult. Hand stitching is now
done more in cross stitching or in hand embroidery. Although hand sewing is still done today,
sewing machines are taking over. Not as many people are sewing because there is not as big of a
need to sew due to the machines. Sewing machines started out simple with only one or two
stiches. Now they can basically sew for themselves. The sewing machines that are coming out
now are computerized. The computerized touch screens are easier for the younger generation to
use because that is what they grew up using. The younger generation understands how to use
computers and touch screens. For them, it is easier to push a button and have the machine sew
for itself. The computerized machines, however, are not so easy for the older generation. It is a
new piece of technology and it is sometimes hard for them to be able to learn the new technology
let alone use it in everyday life like they used to.
The Art of Sewing

“Sewing, isn’t that an old person thing to do?” That question could be answered with,

yes sewing is old but sewing is something that old and young people do. Sewing is defined as

the art of attaching together objects with a needle and thread(Origin of Sewing, 2010 para.1). It

has been around for 25000 years. It is said to have started during the ice age when eskimos

would sew fur together to help them stay warm(Origin of Sewing, 2010 para.1).


Sewing, by any means, is not a new practice. The first needles were made from animal

bones or sticks(Origin of Sewing, 2010 para.2). It was discovered that it was easier to use a

needle that had an eye in it verses just a stick. The tread, like the needle has changed a lot over

the years. Sewing thread was initially made from sinew, catgut, veins and plant fiber as a single

strand(Origin of Sewing, 2010 para.4). Later they found that fibers from plant and animals could

be spun together to make a stronger thread. It would be weird if we still used catgut for sewing

today. Hand sewing was done for many, many years. We still practice hand sewing, just not to

the extent as it was done back when sewing was started. As technology advanced, we were able

to build a sewing machine. The first sewing machine needle was invented by Karl Wiesenthal, a

German inventor. However, the first working sewing machine was not invented until 1790 by

the British inventor Thomas Saint(Origin of Sewing, 2010 para.5). It took quite a bit of time for

a good workable sewing machine to come around. Sewing machines really started to get big in

1930 after French tailor; Barthelemy Thimonnier devised and patented the machine(Origin of

Sewing, 2010 para.8).

The Art of Sewing

Sewing may have started out for clothing, but it is now in industries like spirting goods,

shoe making, upholstery, and so much more(Origin of Sewing, 2010 para.9). It is truly amazing

to see how far sewing has gotten since it started so many years ago. Sewing is not just a job; it

is an art that has developed over time; from hand stitching with needle and thread,

to computerized machines with innovative features, modern technology now offers the

seamstress very exciting possibilities that may be hard for the older generations to use.

Developing Art

Sewing is a simple task. All a person needs to sew in a needle and thread. Part of the art is

having enough thread to use to make a beautiful art piece. “Typically a seamstress or a

person engaged in the art of sewing accumulates in time various kinds of threads either

distinctive by texture or color. As the

proficiency and precision is perfected in

this art the selection of threads quickly

multiplies”(Freerking, J 1978 para.3).

The collection of different threads still

goes on today. Seamstresses like to have

Sewing producttivity and it continues to go a variety of threads to match with the

up as tecnology advances
fabric. Another devise used in the

making of this art is the thimble. The thimble was created to go on a person’s finger. Its

purpose is to protect the nails from braking when pushing the needle through the fabric.

The thimble can make it hard to sew so it is worn on the middle finger so a person could use

their thumb and their index finger to sew (Adam, R. V. 1978 para. 4). The thimble was a
The Art of Sewing

great invention that is still used to day. Every little thing about sewing has changed to be a

marvelous piece of technology.

There are some people out in the world that would not give a care about sewing. They

would not care that it is a piece of technology and that it has developed over time just like any

other piece of technology. Mossoff, A says,

Today, some people might think that the sewing machine is anything but a complex

invention. In our high-tech world in which pharmaceutical companies now design and

construct therapeutic drugs from the protein up,34 or Apple makes it possible to check

email, update one‘s calendar, surf the web, and talk on the phone all in one portable

device (the iPhone), a sewing machine might seem downright mundane. This attitude is

reinforced by the fact that few young people today may have even used a sewing

machine. Yet a sewing machine is actually an intricate piece of technology, and in the

nineteenth century, it was the equivalent of today‘s new blockbuster drug or high-tech

device. (2011 pg. 171)

There are sewing machines now that can basically sew for themselves. They sewing machines

are just as high tech as the phones we use. It is just that they have a different purpose.

Hand to Machine

Today the art of sewing is not so much in the hand stitching. We still use the thimble but

not as much. The collections of different treads is still a practice but not for hand stitching.

Today the art of sewing is in the machine and the way the machine moves. Tice, W. A., Shloush,

M. and Stapel, M. E. shed some light on the subject.

The Art of Sewing

Precision timing is required between the needle and

bobbin movements of a sewing machine. In order to

link the motion of the needle to that of the bobbin,

conventional sewing machines use mechanical

linkages, gears, drive shafts, timing belt, and other

mechanisms to mechanically connect and The newest

mechanically gear the bobbin to the needle. An arm

is used to position the needle above the bobbin, with the linkages between the needle and

bobbin being routed through the arm. A single motor is typically used to drive both

needle and bobbin by way of the mechanical gearing connecting them to each other.

(1995 para. 3)

It is an art that a machine can work so well together to make stitching so even. If the machine

pieces go out of line and the gears do not match up, then there is a big problem. I could just be a

simple fix like replacing a needle, or a big problem that cannot be fixed. It is important that

sewing machines work properly and function well. That problem did not exist when only hand

stitching was done.

The Struggle of the Older Generation

In this world today, technology has been growing. For the younger generations it is easy

to deal with the change, however, it is not so easy for the older generations to make that change.

This also goes with sewing machines. Sewing machines started out simple with only one stich,

and then two. Today it is hard to find a machine that only does one or two stiches. When

sewing machines first started they were all mettle; now they are made out of plastic. People use
The Art of Sewing

to work at a sewing machine using their hands and feet to make it work, today, all one needs to

do is push a button and it will sew for you. The sewing machines we have now, have a graphic

screen. “The graphic screen is the unit talking to the operator by means of pictures or texts on

different menus (complete screen pictures) and describing the functions performable by the

machine” (Skogward, K. O. E. 1989 para. 1). This screen makes it easier for the older

generations to use, because it walks them how to use the machine. This is also nice for people

that are trying to learn how to sew. A pro to having computerized sewing machines is that you

can save the stich you are using. This allows people to be able to create letters and patterns with

the stiches (Hanyu, S. & Kato, K. 1987 para 2). Even though this technology is helpful to us, it

is confusing to the older generation. “The typical researcher or developer finds it easier to design

for someone like themselves rather than for people in a different stage of life who may very well

have different needs, wants, priorities and expectations” (Eisma, R.& Dickinson, A.& Goodman,

J. 2003 pg. 2).

This shows that people forget to think about other people. People sometimes do not

realize that they need to think about how others will think of the technology. The need to

collaborate with people with different backgrounds and skills, wishing to draw on each other’s

strengths, reminds us of our experiences with collaboration between software developers and

designers in industry-based projects (Eisma, R.& Dickinson, A.& Goodman, J. 2003 pg. 3).

This theory of having different people working on the development of technology needs to be

shown when sewing machines change, so the older generation can use them. Even though the

new computerized sewing machines are helpful for the younger generation, the older generation

may have trouble being able to figure out it works.

The Art of Sewing


Sewing may now be harder for the older generations to use due to the new technology.

We now have high tech machines that can do about anything. We still hand stich just not as

much. Sewing has been around for a long time and is still done today. Even though we still sew

today the technology behind sewing has changed just like anything else. Sewing may be hard for

the older generation to use, but is extremely useful. There are many different things that can be a

accomplished by sewing and it is an art that will stay for a long time.
The Art of Sewing


Adams, R. V. (1978). Sewing thimble Google Patents.

Eisma, R.& Dickinson, A.& Goodman, J.& Mival, O. & Syme, A. & Tiwari, L. (2003). Mutual

inspiration in the development of new technology for older people.

Freerking, J. (1978, August 15). Sewing accessory GooglePatents.

Hanyu, S. & Kato, K. (1987, April 28). Computer sewing machine

(http://www.google.com/patents/US4660488 ed.) Google Patents.

Home sewing machines & embroidery machines . (2015). Retrieved from http://www.brother-


Mossoff, A. (2011). The rise and fall of the first american patent thicket: The sewing machine

war of the 1850s .53, 165.

Origin of sewing - sewing history. (2010). Retrieved from


Sewing machines. Retrieved from http://www.machine-


Skogward, K. O. E. (1989, August 29). Sewing machine with graphic instructions Google


Tice, W. A., & Shloush, M. & Stapel, M. E. (1995). Electronically geared sewing machine

Google Patents.

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