By Elias Howe
Patent granted September 10, 1846
Ink and wash on paper
17" x 23 1/2" National Archives and Records Administration, Records of the Patent
and Trademark Office
Howe's Sewing Machine, Patent Drawing
After his health failed, Elias Howe's wife took
in sewing to support the family. While watching his wife at work, Howe
realized that no machine could duplicate the sewing motions of her hands
and arms. Instead, he developed a method of sewing that used two interlocking
threads. His invention employed a needle and a shuttle thread to form
each stitch. Howe claimed that his machine could sew 250 stitches a minute.
Invention of the sewing machine revolutionized the textile and garment
industries. This exhibit includes two of several drawings of the lockstitch
sewing machine Howe submitted to the Patent Office.