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The sewing machine dream

Elias Howe Jr. patented the modern sewing machine in 1846. Its innovative “lockstitch” mechanism was revolutionary. And, apparently, it came to Howe in a dream.

Sewing machine

Frank Puterbaugh Bachman [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The key part of the mechanism was the idea to put the eye of the needle in its point. This is how the story goes. Howe dreamed that he was imprisoned in a foreign country, with an ultimatum to invent a sewing machine within 24 hours or be killed.

Howe worked and worked, and puzzled, and finally gave it up. Then he thought he was taken out to be executed. He noticed that the warriors carried spears that were pierced near the head. Instantly came the solution of the difficulty, and while the inventor was begging for time, he awoke. It was 4 o’clock in the morning. He jumped out of bed, ran to his workshop, and by 9, a needle with an eye at the point had been rudely modeled.

Like many good stories it’s probably not true, but I like it anyway.

Categories: Arts Fashion & design Sciences Technology

The Generalist

I live in Auckland, New Zealand, and am curious about most things.

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