Children's Sewing Machines

The early smaller sewing machines developed for the homemakers were Chain Stitch Machines originally marketed as both lightweight portable devices and then later as toy machines for little girls to use. The latter half of the 19th century saw many machine designs being sold. The patents filed by James Gibbs in 1857 and 1858 were critical in the design of the chain stitch machine. Singer Sewing Machine Co. later copied some of the key design features of these devices.

Petite in size, these machines boasted fewer component pieces for easier threading and usage. With no bobbin case to load, these machines were easy to use and to learn on. With the hand crank operation, sewing was easy and controlling speed was a breeze, although a large project might take a long time to complete. Early chain stitch machines were created with the idea of a more affordable, more portable, and less complicated machine that would appeal to families of modest incomes. They were hand-cranked, very few people had electricity in their home then. This was very popular style with the Native American women to switch cloth, with no electricity available, even into the 20th century. The down-side of this style of machine is that it only produces one type of stitch. Chain stitches are stretchier than lock stitches also. As a machine built to travel, a single stitch was not a big concern for adult users.

Come the 1940s and 1960s toy sewing machines were made of metal or a combination of metal and wood. Later toy sewing machines often had plastic components, rendering them more like toys than proper sewing devices. Toy sewing machines are still being made today, many with various stitch functions; most of them are primarily made of plastic. a kids’ sewing machine makes for a brilliant gift for creative children that they’ll use again and again. Not only will they be able to make and mend their own clothes and accessories, but they can sew gifts for friends and make cushions, curtains or a patchwork quilt for their bedroom.

How many female ancestors of yours used such a toy sewing machine?

Photo: Vintage Chain Stitch Machine of late 1800s.

Related Blogs:

Women’s Work

The Use of the Thimble

Lost Skills of our Ancestors

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