The history of machine embroidery

The History of Machine embroidery
When I decided to write an article on the history of machine embroidery I should have known that with my love of embroidery and my fascination for history I would be taken on a magical journey through time. Due to my love of historical novels, my idea of the history of embroidery conjured pictures of the noble women working together to produce the kings livery. Teaching the young ladies to develop their skills in needlework. In fact, the first embroiderers were men, And they would study the craft form many years in order to become craftsmen.

It is estimated that embroidery has been around since about 3000 BC. The oldest known existing embroidery is the Bayeux tapestry, which is not actually a tapestry but an embroidery, it measures approximately 231 feet and is believed to have taken 100 noble women many years to complete it depicts the battle of Normandy and is now located in Normandy in France.


The various styles of embroidery are as varied as the cultures that practice them.
The first embroidery machine was invented by Josue Heilmann in 1828. This machine made it possible to replicate handwork at a much faster rate. The hand embroiderers of the day were naturally threatened by this invention resulting in Heilman only selling two embroidery machine.



Of course, once the idea was conceived it was inevitable that the machine for embroidery would be produced, In 1863 Isaac Groebli invented a new kind of the embroidery machine, it took some years to perfect this machine and Groebli’s oldest son went on to develop the automatic Schiffli machine, which could sew in any direction.
The invention of the sewing machine is of an intrinsic part of the story that brings us to the modern day of home machine embroidery. The eye pointed sewing machine needle was invented by Walter Hunt in 1934, this was later reinvented by Elias Howe and patented in 1846. When Isaac Singer began mass-producing sewing machines a very convoluted legal battle ensued. Elias Howe was granted the rights to the patent as Walter Hunt had abandoned the project and not filed for a patent.
Prior to computers becoming commonplace most machine embroideries was produced by designs being punched onto paper tape which then ran through a mechanical machine. This was painstaking work and the slightest error would ruin the entire design. This process is why modern day embroidery digitizing is referred to as “punching”.



The popularity of home embroidery machines has increased since 1990 as computers have become more affordable widely available and so too are computerized embroidery digitizing programs and machines. This makes the process of machine embroidery reasonably simple and accessible to many home enthusiasts. Embroidery designs are now widely available and can be purchased on CD or downloaded from the internet. Most embroidery sites have a selection of free embroidery designs