Thimonnier's chain-stitch sewing machine, 1830.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
The chain-stitch sewing machine invented by Barthelemy Thimonnier (1793-1857), a French tailor, was the first to achieve any practical succes. The machine shown here is a copy of an early machine made in accordance with his patent. It is a chain-stitch machine which imitates tambour embroidery. The thread is drawn by a barbed needle from a reel below the table, through the cloth to form a chain-stitch on the upper surface of the fabric. His later machines were different in some respects and did not have a fly-wheel. By 1830, Thimonnier had 80 machines at work in a Paris workshop making army clothing, but these were destroyed in 1831 by a mob of tailors who felt that the invention would endanger their livelihood.