The Singer Sewing Machine in 3D

An immersive virtual look at an iconic invention

By Google Arts & Culture

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Singer Sewing Machine by Vida Systems

First established in 1851, The Singer Company is arguably the world’s most famous manufacturer of sewing machines. Founded by American inventor Isaac M. Singer and lawyer Edward C. Clark, the company took the basic design of the sewing machine and improved it, making it both more user friendly and more commercially viable.

The origins of the company, and the product that would make it famous, can be traced back to 1850s Boston when a machinist asked Singer – then working as an inventor – to help improve the design of a sewing machine made by the Lerow and Blodgett Company. Singer completely re-thought the machine, creating the first viable alternative to hand-sewing in the process. 

One of the first things Singer did was to add a presser-foot to the machine to help keep fabric flat as it was fed through. 

He also added an arm-like extension to the machine to help reduce thread breakage. These two innovations had a huge impact on the usability of the sewing machine. Soon, machinists were able to sew 900 stitches per minute. Even the most skilled seamsters could only sew 40 stitches per minute by hand.

Once he’d come up with the basic design, Singer worked to refine it. Soon, he’d reduced the weight and size of his machines and created a mass-production system of interchangeable parts. Singer marketed his first machines at $10 each, putting them within reach of families across America. 

Singer sewing machines were also made out of high quality, durable materials. This, coupled with their affordable price tag, made Singer sewing machines incredibly popular and soon the company was selling millions of machines around the world. 

The design of the Singer sewing machine is so iconic that it remains instantly recognizable to this day. And while the company eventually updated their designs and manufactured more modern machines, it’s this classic model that will always epitomize the famous brand.

Sewing Machine (1903) by Not applicableRafael Masó Foundation

Learn more about classic Singer sewing machines here.

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