Did you know, it is a little-known fact that the needle was one of man’s first tools? Over centuries it has developed from a simple craft item to a precision tool for modern sewing machines. It has played a major part in the development of our civilization and our standard of living.
By the way, the most ancient sewing needles date back to 28,000 BC. To begin with, these earlier ones did not have an eye but a split end. In this case, the split end gripped the thread to be sewn which was often raffia, gut, or sinew. In comparison, needles from later than 17,500 BC already had the two features characteristic of the hand sewing ones we know today. Such as the eye at one end and the tapering point at the other end. They were made from the materials available to human society at the time, for example, bones and antlers.
Subsequently, as people acquired skills in working with metal they were also made from metal. This was in the Bronze Age approximately 7000 BC. For example, first from copper then later from iron or bronze.
Subsequently, the invention of the sewing machine gave rise to the development of the sewing machine needle.
Conversely, the basic form of the hand sewing needle remained the same. Generally, the degree of tapering and the variation of the diameter over the length of it was slightly altered in the course of time.
In the meantime, in 1755 a German named Weisenthal thought that he had found the necessity for machine sewing in his development of a two-point needle. This was also used later by Madersperger and others. It is even used nowadays in modern industrial machines for sewing shank buttons or for imitating hand-made seams. An Englishman called Saint used a so-called hook or protruding needle for his machine designed in 1790. Both types, however, were of little importance for the further development of the sewing machine needle.
Around 1800 Balthasar Krems, from Germany, used a needle for the first time which had the eye moved close to the point. We should appreciate this invention because the feature that looks so simple to us today was, in fact, a sensation at that time. This eye-point needle paved the way for the mechanization of sewing world-wide.
Hence, since then, the sewing machine needle has been developed to the form known today. So then, then it has accomplished its transition from a hand tool to the precision tool of the sewing machine needle.
Based on extracts taken from A Brief History of Needles at Schmetz Needles.
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