Test Your Knowledge of Sewing History

Vintage Sewing Machine

Good Morning, Class.  It’s Monday–and I hope you have been studying… it’s time for a  POP QUIZ!

Vintage Sewing Machine

Sewing History Quiz

1.   Hand sewing is:

A.  Nearly 50,000 years old.

B.  Over 20,000 years old.

C. Something to be avoided at all costs.



The world’s first sewing machine patent was granted to British Inventor, Thomas Saint in 1790.



Frenchman, Barthelemy Thimonnier invented the first functional chain stitch sewing machine in 1830.



Elias Howe was the first American to patent a sewing machine that used a thread from two sources.



Isaac Singer was the first to mass produce a sewing machine that could sew faster than a seamstress.



Elias Howe had great lawyers.  He earned nearly two million dollars from 1854-1867 from patent infringements on his sewing machine.


7.  By the year 1900, how many sewing machines were being produced all over the world?

A.  100,000 machines

B.  30,000 machines

C.  2 million machines



The Zig-Zag sewing machine was invented by Bernina in 1951.



The rotary cutter was invented in Japan in the 1950s-nearly one hundred years after the first sewing machine.

10.  TRUE or FALSE

Quilting is a multibillion dollar industry in the US.


Vintage Sewing Machine

Sewing History Quiz–ANSWER KEY

1.  B.   Hand sewing is over 20,000 years old.  Archeologists believe that during the last ice age, man stitched fur, hides and bark together using sinew for thread and bones for needles.

2.  TRUE.  Englishman, Thomas Saint was granted the first patent related to a sewing machine.  His patent was for a device to stitch leather and never progressed beyond the patent-model stage.

3.  TRUE.  Frenchman, Bartheelemy Thimonnier invented the first functional sewing machine.  His sewing machine used one thread and formed a chain-stitch.  He was nearly killed by a mob of enraged tailors who feared unemployment.

4.  TRUE.  Massachussets farmer, Elias Howe patented his two-thread lock stitch sewing machine in 1846, but he was unable to find an American manufacturer to produce it for him.

5.  TRUE.  In 1851, Isaac Singer produced the first functional sewing machine that was mass-produced.  His company dominated the market for nearly 100 years.

6.  TRUE.  Elias Howe was lawsuit happy.  He sued everyone in the sewing machine industry and amassed great wealth ( 2 million dollars).  During the Civil War, he used his entire fortune to equip and underwrite a Union Army infantry regiment.

7.  C.  Nearly 2 million sewing machines were manufactured all over the world by the 1900s.

8.  FALSE.  The Zig zag sewing machine was patented by Helen Blanchard of Portland, Maine in 1873.  Miss Blanchard held 28 sewing machine related patents.

9.  FALSE.  The rotary cutter was invented by the Japanese company, Olfa in 1979.  The rotary cutter revolutionized quilting by making cutting quick and accurate.

10.  TRUE.  The quilting industry in the US alone is a multi-billion dollar industry.   (and readers of The Inbox Jaunt know it is much much bigger world-wide!)


No more quizzes for a while.  Tomorrow, is Tuesday Tutorial–so put away your notebooks and open up your sketchbooks!



5 thoughts on “Test Your Knowledge of Sewing History

  1. You had me at “sewing history.” 🙂 Whether I’m stitching by hand or with the fancy-schmancy computerized Bernina, I do appreciate that history legacy and connection to other places and times, whether it’s the early humans stitching fur pelts together or one of the doomed wives of Henry the 8th doing needlework in the Tower of London as she awaits her gruesome fate. And I feel like I’m time traveling when I sew on my Singer Featherweight machines — one that takes me back to 1951, and the other one that whisks me back to 1935.

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