Happy Sewing Machine Day!


Did you know that June 13th is the day that celebrates the invention of the sewing machine?

Several men have been credited with this creation; Walter Hunt invented the first lockstitch machine in 1832, and John Greenough patented the first sewing machine in the States in 1842, this day relates to cabinet-maker and English inventor, Thomas Saint, who received the first patent for a design of a sewing machine in 1790.  Unfortunately, it was never realised and no evidence of it other than his drawings could be found, so it wasn't until 1874, when William Newton Wilson found Saint’s drawings in the London Patent Office, made some adjustments and built a working model that it really took off. This model is currently owned by the London Science Museum!

Our sewing school just wouldn't be the same without the not-so-humble sewing machine, so we thought it would be a great time to tell you a little bit more about the ones we use and to do that we will introduce one of our very experienced sewing teachers - Penny...

"I was lucky enough to grow up at a time when sewing was a normal domestic accomplishment and consequently there was lots of sewing going on!  My Mother made all of her clothes and mine to a very high standard, having been taught by her mother who had worked as a seamstress.  My paternal grandmother was a tailoress so sewing was a normal way of life.  Add to that a wonderful needlework teacher at secondary school and I couldn’t avoid sewing. In recent years I have started to earn my living by sewing.  I am a seamstress and have a small business, ‘The Village Seamstress’, in the village where I live, making bespoke garments and carrying out alterations.  I also worked part time as  sewing consultant for Janome at John Lewis for over three years.  My role meant that I had to have working knowledge of the range of Janome machines that John Lewis sold and also give lessons to those people that bought sewing machines.  It was here that I discovered a passion for teaching.

"I make as many of my clothes as I am able.  I just love the fact that I can put a pattern and fabric together to make a unique garment that nobody else will have.  I have noticed that I get lots of compliments when I wear clothes that I’ve made and this spurs me on to make more!

"I joined Ray Stitch in January this year and I teach mainly the Introduction to Machine Sewing and Introduction to Dressmaking courses.  I love teaching and find passing on my knowledge very exciting.  I really enjoy watching a beginner gain confidence in their abilities over the six weeks that I teach them and their amazement when they complete their first garment.

"The sewing machines at the Ray Stitch Sewing school need to cope with a lot - we teach absolute beginners so the machines need to be simple enough for them to get started, but have enough features for our more proficient sewers and their advanced projects. They also get a lot of use through our classes and are available to hire by the hour, so a good solid machine is needed.

"We use the Janome 5018*.  This Janome machine was chosen for its strength and reliability.  It has a metal body and a solid cover for when the machine is not in use.  It’s ideal for use in the Sewing School because it is simple to use but has good features for more advanced projects.  The machine comes with a good selection of feet which are stored neatly under the lid.  It has a larger than normal throat space (the distance on the right hand side of the needle) making it useful for bulky projects such as coats or patchwork quilts.  It has a ‘one step’ buttonhole system that makes buttonhole sewing simple.  In addition the feed dogs lower at the flick of a switch for free machine embroidery. Beginners find its clear stitch selection, stitch length and width sliders easy to use and master, whilst more advanced students find it perfect to work with fine fabrics and heavy weight coatings and denims.

"As you can imagine our sewing machines at Ray Stitch work really hard so we keep them regularly cleaned and serviced.  Generally speaking a domestic machine should be cleaned at the beginning of every project and a new, appropriate needle inserted.  Depending on the amount that a machine is used, once its guarantee period is over, it should be serviced every couple of years.  The better that a machine is looked after the longer it will work for you!"

*This is not a sponsored post, we do not work on behalf of Janome, all views and opinions are our own.