Early sewing machine by Elias Howe, c 1845.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Elias Howe (1819-1867) built his first sewing machine in 1845. This example was brought to England in 1846 by his brother, Amasa Howe, who sold it to William Thomas. Thomas took out a British patent for the design. Similar to the US patent model in the Smithsonian Institute, it corresponds closely to the drawing and British patent specification, except that a bobbin-winder appears to have been added. Howe's machine, using an eye-pointed needle and a shuttle to form a lock-stitch, marks the beginning of the sewing machine industry.