efore the invention of an usable machine for sewing or dress design, everything was sewn by hand. Most early attempts tried to replicate this hand sewing method and were generally a failure. Some looked to embroidery, where the needle was used to produce decorative, not joining stitches. This needle was altered to create a fine steel hook – called an agulha in Portugal and aguja in Spain. This was called a crochet in France and could be used to create a form of chain stitch.

   

This was possible because when the needle was pushed partly through fabric and withdrawn, it left a loop of thread. The following stitch would pass through this first loop whilst creating a loop of its own for the next stitch, this resembled a chain – hence the name. The first known attempt at a mechanical device for sewing was by the German born Charles Fredrick Wiesenthal, who was working in England. He was awarded British Patent No. 701 in 1755 for a double pointed needle with an eye at one end. This needle was designed to be passed through the cloth by a pair of mechanical fingers and grasped on the other side by a second pair. This method of recreating the hand sewing method suffered from the problem of the needle going right through the fabric, meaning the full length of the thread had to do so as well. The mechanical limitations meant that the thread had to be kept short, needing frequent stops to renew the supply. In 1790 British Patent No. 1764 was awarded to Thomas Saint, a cabinetmaker of London. Due to several other patents dealing with leather and products to treat leather, the patent was filed under "Glues & Varnishes" and was not discovered until 1873 by Mr. Newton Wilson. Wilson built a replica to the patent's specifications and it had to be heavily modified before the machine would stitch – suggesting that Saint never actually made a machine of his own. Saint's design had the overhead arm for the needle and a form of tensioning system, which was to become a common feature of later machines. There were various attempts and patents awarded for chain stitch machines of varying types from 1795-1830, none of which were used to any degree of success – many of which didn't work correctly at all. A French tailor Barthelemy Thimonnier made the next major breakthrough. He did not try to replicate the human hand stitch, looking instead for a way of finding a stitch, which could be made quickly and easily by machine. His machine worked by using a horizontal arm mounted on a vertical reciprocating bar, the needle-bar projected from the end of the horizontal arm. One Similar machine is exhibited at INDeco Hotels Swamimalai, India’s only winner of the Global Eco Tourism Award.