Apparel Science

A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE SEWING NEEDLE

 

Needle was one of humankind’s first tools. Over the centuries it developed from a simple craft item to the precision tool for modern sewing machines, constantly adapted for new industrial applications and requirements. 

The needle is the distinctive tool of the Upper Paleolithic period that began about 40,000 years ago. The oldest known needles with eyes date from the Gravettian period, about 25,000 years ago. The needle is one of the earliest survivors of the explosion of invention that the textile archaeologist Elizabeth Wayland Barber called the String Revolution. Paleolithic needles made of animal bones, antlers, and tusks helped make possible the extension of human settlement into cooler regions after the Ice Age (until about 10,000 to 12,000 years ago),

and they also were used for fashioning fishing nets and carrying bags. There is evidence that by the Gravettian, needles were used not only to stitch hides together for warmth but also for sewing and decorating textiles for social and erotic display. The needle was associated thus closely with humanity's new conceptual skills and expressions, including fashion itself

 

 

 

Development of Sewing Needles

 

The early needles were hand-made out of bone, over 17000 years ago by Western Europeans and Central Asians. It was used for sewing skins and furs.

History dates back to 28000 B.C. The earliest known sewing needle is developed in Aurignacia. Hand crafted and made of bones, the needle has a split head instead of an eye which gripped the thread to be sewn (often raffia, gut or sinew). 

17500 B.C – The first needles with eyes emerge  , the eye at one end and the tapering point at the other end. They were made from the materials Like bones and antlers.

7000 B.C – Copper needles are produced in Armenia  , As people acquired skills in working metal materials, needles were also made from metal (Bronze Age approximately 7000 BC), first from copper.

In 2500 B.C  Bronze needles are born and after that below development had happened.

1195 B.C – Secret of hardening iron reaches Europe from India.


500 B.C – The drawing plate is used for producing wire.

60 A.D – Phrygier is credited with discovering embroidery.

1200 A.D – The needle is advertised for the first time in China.

1496 – Leonardo da Vinci constructs a machine to point sewing needles.

1615 – Aachen shows the way by making needles from fine, pure steel.

1730 – Stephan Beissel founds a needle factory in Aachen, Germany.


In 1755  First ever patent is awarded for a needle with an eye. A German named Weisenthal thought that he had found the prerequisite for machine sewing in his development of a two-point needle. This needle form was also used later on by Madersperger and others and it is even used nowadays in. 

In 1790 an Englishman called Thomas Saint applies for a patent for a machine to sew shoes. The needle used in this machine called hook needle or protruding needle similar to today’s crochet needle.

Even today, hook needles are used in some single-chain, drop-stitch embroidery (Cornely), saddle-stitch and linking machines. Both types of needles, however, were of little importance for the further development of the sewing machine needle


Around 1800 Balthasar Krems from Mayen, Germany used a needle, for the first time, which had the eye moved close to the point. One should particularly appreciate this invention because one feature that looks so simple to us today was a sensation at that time. This eye-point needle paved the way for the mechanization of sewing world-wide.

In 1811– Abel & Michael Morall are the first to construct a device for the pressing of eyes.

In the second half of the 18th century, Aachen, Iserlohn and Schwabach develop into centers of the German needle industry. In the early 1900s the Aachen region takes over the leading role in regional comparison due to new production and sales methods. In 1851 the Schmetz family founds the needle factory in Herzogenrath near Aachen

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