Sandburg's Hometown

July 2, 2018

Singer Treadle Machine, By Birmingham Museums Trust - Birmingham Museums Trust

The Sewing Machine

By Barbara Schock

Since Clara Sandburg had three daughters she probably sewed many garments for them.  In the early years of her marriage she had hemstitched by hand Pillsbury flour sacks to use as diapers for her children.

The sewing machine was one of the first labor-saving consumer appliances to appear in the nineteenth century.  It had taken many men and almost a hundred years for inventors to create a machine which actually worked.  The movements of hand-sewing were quite different from the requirements for a mechanical sewing device.

A mechanical device had to have a thread for both the top and the bottom of the stitch in order to lock it in place.  There had to be guides to maintain the proper tension on the thread so it wouldn’t break.  A device was needed to hold the fabric in place and advance it in unison with the needle and shuttle.

Elias Howe received a patent in 1846, but there was little interest in a mechanical sewing device.  He tried to promote his machine in England but failed.  By 1850 several inventors, including Isaac Singer, began selling sewing machines of their own design.  Singer’s machines cost $125 (equal to $3,000 in today’s money.)

Howe filed lawsuits against Singer and other companies for unauthorized use of his ideas.  In 1856 an agreement was made among the manufacturers to license their patents for a fee.  This opened the way for sewing machines to be manufactured and sold at a more reasonable price.  It also created nice fortunes for the manufacturers.

Singer’s company began selling its sewing machines for $5 down and $3 to $5 per month until paid for.  It was the first use of the installment purchase plan.  It was easier to guide fabric under the needle with both hands.  Singer produced the first electric sewing machine in 1889.

Heavy-duty machines were developed for commercial clothing construction and the ready-to-wear industry increased rapidly, especially for men’s wear.  The cost of clothing was reduced and a wide variety of clothing was available for purchase in retail establishments.

The use of the sewing machine led to increased cotton production, the finishing of interchangeable metal parts, more shipping of goods across the country and the commercial production of upholstery, curtains, towels and other household furnishings.

Of course, there were some men who thought a woman pedaling a sewing machine was unseemly.  They also thought that sewing was essential to a woman’s work.  If she didn’t have enough work to do at home she might use her free time to go outside the home and get into trouble.

In households of limited means a sewing machine could be used by a woman to make extra money for the family or she could work in a sewing factory for pay.

The pride of creating a well-fitted and attractive garment was felt by many women and girls who had the use of a sewing machine until the present day.

Sandburg's Hometown
Date Title
July 2, 2018 The Sewing Machine
June 25, 2018 Colonel Francis Marion
June 11, 2018 June 10, 1897
June 4, 2018 Watermelon
May 28, 2018 Hope Cemetery
May 21, 2018 General O.O. Howard
May 14, 2018 Western Health Institute
May 7, 2018 William L. Steele
April 30, 2018 General Nathanael Greene
April 23, 2018 The Boys of '76
April 16, 2018 The Eight-Hour Day
April 9, 2018 Handwriting
April 2, 2018 Hello Spring
March 26, 2018 The Post-Simpson House
March 12, 2018 The Why
February 26, 2018 John Van Ness Standish
February 19, 2018  The Sale of Spirits
February 12, 2018 Gershom Martin, part 2
February 5, 2018 Gershom Martin
January 29, 2018 La Grippe
January 22, 2018 Washday
January 15, 2018 Dice
January 1, 2018 What Is a Deprived Childhood?
December 18, 2017 Stars
December 11, 2017 Andrew Carnegie, Philanthropist
December 4, 2017 Isaac Guliher
November 27, 2017 "Found a Deserted Babe"
November 20, 2017 Thanksgiving Days
November 13, 2017 Wilkins Seacord
November 6, 2017 Lake Washington Sanborn
October 30, 2017 Streetcars
October 23, 2017 Many Pranks Played
October 16, 2017  Season to Open Soon
October 9, 2017 Carl's 17th Birthday Memories
September 25, 2017 General P.S. Post
September 18, 2017 'Tis Apple Time
September 4, 2017 The Union Picnic
August 28, 2017 The Founders' Streets
August 21, 2017  Sarah Bernhardt
August 7, 2017 The Circus
July 31, 2017 A Man of Many Firsts
July 24, 2017 Cuspidors and Spittoons
July 17, 2017 John K. Fowler
July 3, 2017 The Indelible Pencil
June 19, 2017 Fairy Tales
June 12, 2017 Potato Bugs
May 22, 2017 A Pioneer Family
May 15, 2017 The Prairie
May 8, 2017 Henry Hitchcock
May 1, 2017 Callender and Rodine
April 24, 2017 The Mesmerist
April 10, 2017 Street Fair of 1898 (Part 3) - Florence Cooke, Queen of the Street Fair
April 3, 2017 Street Fair of 1898 (Part 2)
March 20, 2017 Street Fair of 1898 (Part 1)
March 13, 2017  Gingerbread 
February 27, 2017 Superstitions
February 6, 2017 Sergeant Edwin C. Reed
January 30, 2017 Corporal Andrew P. Tanning
January 23, 2017 The Ferris Wheel
January 16, 2017 The Gibson Girl
January 9, 2017 The Cookstove
January 2, 2017 Sergeant Charles J. Rose
December 19, 2016 Hazelnuts
December 12, 2016 Minstrel Shows
December 7, 2016 Memories of Pearl Harbor
December 5, 2016 The Coffee Mill
November 28, 2016 Robert J. Samuelson
November 21, 2016  The Chrysanthemum Rules
November 14, 2016 Newspapers
October 31, 2016 Frederick Dickinson
October 24, 2016 The Reverend Carl A. Nyblad
October 17, 2016 Talk Not Always Cheap
October 10, 2016 "It Will Live in Bronze"
September 19, 2016 J. Charles "Frenchy" Juneau
September 12, 2016

Oscar F. "Husky" Larson

September 5, 2016 Obituaries
August 29, 2016 Aaron Boyer, Broommaker
August 22, 2016 The Panic of 1873
August 15, 2016 The Swan Prize
August 8, 2016 Chautauqua
July 18, 2016 Street Lighting
July 11, 2016 Cedar Fork
July 4, 2016 Shelden W. Allen
June 20, 2016 Conrad Byloff
June 13, 2016 Edward W. Rosenberg
June 6, 2016 Lawrence Futhey
May 30, 2016 Memory
May 23, 2016 Decoration Day, 1881
May 16, 2016 William Cullen Bryant
May 9, 2016 College Days
May 2, 2016  A Military Career Thwarted 
April 25, 2016  How to Sweep a Room
April 18, 2016 The Marsh Horse and Mule Market
April 11, 2016 Horses Everywhere
April 4, 2016 Victor A. Thoureen
March 28, 2016 Nicknames
March 21, 2016 Corporal Edward P. Peckenpaugh
March 14, 2016 Hold Still!
March 7, 2016 Capt. T. L. McGirr
February 29, 2016 Sparrow Season
February 22, 2016 George W. Erickson
February 15, 2016 George Helgeson Fitch
February 8, 2016  Anna Charlotte Goldquist
February 1, 2016 "Little Boy Blue"
January 25, 2016 Always the Young Strangers
January 18, 2016 George R. Longbrake
January 11, 2016 Fred Cook
January 4, 2016 Domestic Help
December 14, 2015 Justice of the Peace B.F. Holcomb
November 30, 2015 Standardized Time
November 23, 2015 Joseph H. Knutson
November 16, 2015 Wells and Cisterns 
November 2, 2015 Willis E. Calkins
October 26, 2015 Galesburg Pottery
October 19, 2015 Private Lewis H. Kay
October 12, 2015 The Klondike Gold Rush
September 28, 2015 Charles L. Bloomgren
September 21, 2015 The Gilded Age
September 14, 2015 Oliver Optic
August 31, 2015 The "Spanish" Cannon
August 24, 2015 The Company C Men
August 17, 2015 Jacob A. Riis
August 10, 2015 Mason Jars
August 3, 2015  October 7, 1896
July 27, 2015 The Soldier's Monument
July 20, 2015 Ice
July 13, 2015 Moses O. Williamson
July 6, 2015 Sweet Little Alix
June 29, 2015 Sharlie's Shickens
June 22, 2015 Anna Held & John Drew
June 15, 2015 Hartel & Secker Meat Market
June 8, 2015 Girls
June 1, 2015 Old First Church - Part II
May 25, 2015 Old First Church - Part I
May 18, 2015 Marbles
May 11, 2015 Pawnee County, Kansas
May 4, 2015 Detective Stories and the Real Thing
April 27, 2015 Professor Isaac A. Parker
April 20, 2015 Celluloid Collars
April 13, 2015 Asparagus
April 6, 2015  Mayor John C. Stewart 
March 30, 2015 Basket Ball
March 23, 2015 The Courthouse of Knox County, IL
March 16, 2015

“Trifles make perfection...”

March 9, 2015 Uncle Tom's Cabin
March 2, 2015 Martha Sandburg Goldstone
February 23, 2015 Devotion
February 16, 2015  Gumbiner's Pawn Shop 
February 9, 2015 White Bread
February 2, 2015 The Monarch Club
January 26, 2015 The Silver Dollar
January 19, 2015 The Fulton County Narrow Gauge Railway
January 12, 2015 The Four Corners
December 22, 2014 Swedish Christmas
December 8, 2014 Christmas 1878
December 1, 2014 Bunker Boots & Shoes
November 24, 2014 Galesburg, Illinois
November 17, 2014 It was Buffalo Bill's Day
November 10, 2014 The Election of 1896 (A follow-up story)
November 3, 2014 The Election of 1896 (continued)
October 27, 2014 The Election of 1896
October  24, 2014 The Rissywarn
October 20, 2014 The Parlor Stove
October 13, 2014 Ashes to Ashes
October 6, 2014 Jesse James
Sept. 29, 2014 Lester T. Stone, Public Servant
Sept. 22, 2014 It's Who You Know
Sept 15, 2014 Mother of the Illinois Flag
Sept 8, 2014 The Scissors Grinder
Sept 1, 2014 Baseball
August 25, 2014 Howard K. Knowles, Capitalist
August 18, 2014  Alcoholic Beverages
August 11, 2014 Soda Water
August 4, 2014 Sweet Corn
July 28, 2014 Marching Through Georgia
July 21, 2014 The Knox County Fair
July 14, 2014 The Panic of 1893
July 7, 2014 The Rev. T. N. Hasselquist
June 30, 2014 The Knox County Courthouse
June 23, 2014 The Family Photograph Album
June 16, 2014 Parades
June 9, 2014 Lingonberries
June 2, 2014 Where We Live
May 26, 2014 Old Main
May 19, 2014 Rhythms of the Railroad
May 12, 2014 Spring Tonic
May 5, 2014 The Milkmen
April 28, 2014 Gray's "Elegy..."
April 21, 2014 Off to War
April 14, 2014 Swedish Easter
April 7, 2014 A Father's Face
March 31, 2014 Secret Societies
March 24, 2014 George A. Murdock, Merchant
March 10, 2014 Trade Cards
March 3, 2014 The Demorest Medal
February 24, 2014 Rip Van Winkle
February 17, 2014 Cabbage Soup
February 10, 2014 Lincoln's Birthday
February 3, 2014 4  The Colonel
January 27, 2014 The Lincoln Penny - A Little History
January 20, 2014 Walking to Work
January 13, 2014  A Small Abode
January 6, 2014 Birth of a Poet
December 30, 2013 Christmas 1880
December 23, 2013 Swedish Christmas
December 16, 2013 The Reporter Sees Santa
December 9, 2013 The Coming of Christmas
December 2, 2013 The Fire Boys Talk
November 25, 2013 Galesburg Will Feast on Turkeys and Cranberries - Thanksgiving 1893
November 18, 2013 Mary Sandburg Johnson
November 11, 2013 Carl Sandburg's Bicycle
November 4, 2013 Lace Curtains
October 28, 2013 The Front Room
October 21, 2013 A Warm Breakfast
October 14, 2013 Marion D. Shutter
October 7, 2013 Cigars and Consumption
September 30, 2013 Forrest F. Cooke & August Sandburg
September 16, 2013 Forrest F. Cooke, Mayor
September 9, 2013 Dusty Streets
September 2, 2013 Typhoid Fever
August 26, 2013 Coffee and Water
August 19, 2013 A Horse! A Horse!
August 12, 2013 Gaddial Scott
August 5, 2013 The Racetrack
July 29, 2013 John Peter Algeld - Part II
July 22, 2013 John Peter Altgeld - Part I
July 15, 2013 Tramps, Tramps, Tramps
July 8, 2013 Lady Liberty
July 1, 2013 Galesburg's Fourth
June 24, 2013 John H. Finley
June 17, 2013 The World's Columbian Exhibition
June 10, 2013 Fruit Short-Cake
June 3, 2013 Horatio Alger, Author
May 27, 2013 Memorial Day, 1887
May 20, 2013 Professor Jon W. Grubb
May 13, 2013 Beginnings of Lombard University
May 6, 2013 Young Sandburg’s View of Lombard College
April 29, 2013 Thinking
April 22, 2013 Robert Colville, Master Mechanic
April 15, 2013 The Galesburg Opera House
April 8, 2013 Grocery Stores and Sample Rooms
April 1, 2013  A Hearty  Breakfast 
March 25, 2013  The Lost Wallpaper Legend 
March 18, 2013 Martin G. Sandburg
March 4, 2013 The Edison Talking Machine
February 25, 2013 Joe Elser, Civil War Veteran
February 18, 2013 Remember the Maine...
February 11, 2013 Lincoln's Birthday
February 4, 2013 Curiosity
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