Saturday, December 3, 2011

Blog:Singer Sewing Machines - The First Home Appliance with Linda LaRoque

Linda LaRoque is a Texas girl, but the first time she got on a horse, it tossed her in the road dislocating her right shoulder. Forty years passed before she got on another, but it was older, slower, and she was wiser. Plus, her students looked on and it was important to save face.

A retired teacher who loves West Texas, its flora and fauna, and its people, Linda’s stories paint pictures of life, love, and learning set against the raw landscape of ranches and rural communities in Texas and the Midwest. She is a member of RWA, her local chapter of HOTRWA, NTRWA and Texas Mountain Trail Writers.

Consider the time consuming process of making garments for an entire family by hand, one stitch at a time. And most likely, that sewing took place in the evening when all the chores were done, supper dishes cleaned, and the children in bed. Sitting close to the fire, or possibly a coal oil lamp, she worked away, often into the wee hours.

The first sewing machine was developed by Englishman Thomas Saint in 1791 to work on leather and canvas. It was never built. In 1830 a French Tailor, Barthlemy Thimonnier built a machine and had 80 in his factory where French military uniforms were made. Tailors afraid of losing their livelihood rioted and destroyed the factory.

These early machines used the chain stitch which were not very strong.

In 1833, Walter Hunt developed a lock stitch machine which used an eye-pointed needle, a shuttle, and stitched horizontally. The lock stitch was stronger than the chain stitch. There were problems with the feed. The machine had to be stopped and reset up. Hunt sold the machine without bothering to patent it.

In 1842, John Greenough patented the first sewing machine in America.

Elias Howe patented his machine in 1845. His method was similar to Hunt's. He improved the needle and the material moved vertically. He traveled to England to promote interest in his machine and when he returned he found various people infringing on his patent. In 1854 he won the right to claim royalties from those using his patent ideas. The picture to the right is of Elias Howe's machine. Note the handle used to power the machine.
Isaac Singer, an engineer, thought the rotary sewing machine clumsy and designed the flying shuttle. The needle was mounted vertically and he added a presser foot, a fixed arm to hold the needle, and included a tensioning system. The machine combined elements of previous machines. He patented his machine in 1851. He was unable to patent the treadle as it had been used for some time.
Howe took Singer to court and won. Singer had to pay him a lump sum of $15.00 for each machine produced and Singer took out a license under Howe's patent and paid Howe $15.00 for each additional machine produced.
Before 1990, the idea of women having sewing machines to aid them with their work wasn't well accepted. The feeling was women weren't capable of operating machinery. They were too excitable and not considered to be bright enough.
When it was first suggested Singer design one, his comment was, "You want to do away with the only thing that keeps women quiet - their sewing!" But, ready to make money, he went ahead and designed one that had many features of machines today. The first treadle Singer machine was introduced in 1856. To aid in sales, he used women to demonstrate the machines.

Singer became partners with lawyer, Edward Clark, and thus began the first installment credit plan which made sewing machines available to more women, the ones who couldn't pay cash for them. The year was 1856. They cost $100.00 and for $5.00, a woman could take one home with her that day and start to use it. At that time that amount of money equaled to the price of a car today. Some families went together to buy a machine and shared it.

Women were at last able to make garments much faster than in the past. Ease in piecing quilt squares, mending, and other domestic sewing chores freed women up for other activities. Though men feared they'd spend their free time playing cards, gossiping, or gadding about town, most probably got a little more rest or took part in charitable activities.
Thanks for reading. For you ladies out there who sew, thank goodness for Singer and the other individuals who developed sewing machines.

A Marshal of Her Own – Blurb and Excerpt
Despite rumors of “strange doings” at a cabin in Fredericksburg, investigative reporter Dessa Wade books the cottage from which lawyer, Charity Dawson, disappeared in 2008. Dessa is intent on solving the mystery. Instead, she is caught in the mystery that surrounds the cabin and finds herself in 1890 in a shootout between the Faraday Gang and a US Marshal.
Marshal Cole Jeffers doesn’t believe Miss Wade is a time traveler. He admits she’s innocent of being an outlaw, but thinks she knows more about the gang than she’s telling. When she’s kidnapped by Zeke Faraday, Cole is determined to rescue her. He’s longed for a woman of his own, and Dessa Wade just might be the one—if she’ll commit to the past.

Dessa stood still and watched as they conversed. Something stank to high heaven about this entire situation. Why were the cops chasing robbers on horseback? It’s not like Fredericksburg was that isolated. She glanced at the captured men. The boy moaned, and she made a step to go over and help him. The Marshal spun, and the expression in his eye froze her in place.
 “He needs first aid.”
 “He’s fine. The Doc will tend to him when we get to the jail.”
  “You could at least call 911 and let them patch him up for you.” She nodded to the man lying so still with his eyes closed. “Your other prisoner doesn’t look so good. He’s going to die on you if you don’t start CPR or get him some help.”
 “Lady, no one is going to hear a yell from out here. Never heard of any 911 or CPR.” He propped the hand not holding the shotgun on his hip and threw her a disgusted look. “Are you blind? That man is dead, shot through the heart.”
Her head swam for a moment, and she struggled not to give in to the sensation and faint. She drew in deep gulps of air. “Well...well..., what about the coroner and the meat wagon, not to mention the CSI folks? If you don’t get them to record the scene, how are you going to cover your butt? The authorities might say you shot him in cold blood.”
He looked at her like she’d sprouted an extra head. “I don’t know what the hell you are talking about woman. No one will question my authority. I’m the law in this county. Now, be quiet, or I’m going to gag you.”

A Marshal of Her Own will be available now at The Wild Rose Press,, Barnes and and other online book stores. It is the sequel to A Law of Her Own available at The Wild Rose Press,, and Barnes and and other online book stores. I’m awaiting a release date for A Love of His Own, the third story in the Prairie, Texas series.

My release contest for A Marshal of Her Own began November 9th. I’ll be giving away this vintage rhinestone typewriter pin. To enter the drawing, go to my website or blog and sign up for my newsletter. Don’t forget to verify your email address. If you already receive it, email me at with A Marshal of Her Own contest in the subject line. Contest ends December 15, 2011.

Leave me a comment or ask a question today and you’ll be entered into a drawing for an ecopy of A Law of Her Own.

Also, today’s blog post is part of 2 blog tours—this one for A Marshal of Her Own and starting December 4th, one for Born in Ice. Follow along each day and leave a comment to be entered into the grand prize drawing and learn about my Born in Ice contest.
The Blog Tour schedule will be posted on my blog and website. It will last 25 days and the Grand Prize is a Kindle. Leave a comment each day and your name will be entered 25 times. Pretty good odds, huh?
Thank you for having me on your blog today, Jeanne!

Tomorrow, Dec. 4, begins my promotion of Born in Ice, my futuristic romantic suspense released by Champagne Books. I’ll be on Greta van der Rol’s blog at
My publisher has given me permission to share (over the next 9 days) the prologue and first chapter of Born in Ice. So, stay tuned for a new installment each day.
Happy Reading and Writing!
Linda LaRoque
Writing Romance With a Twist in Time


  1. Hi Jeanne. Thank you for having me on your blog today. I look forward to chatting with your readers!

  2. We've always had a sewing machine in out home, a Singer included. I've seen some nifty antique ones. Some of the desgins are really elegant and intricate. Being from a family who sews a lot, I can definitely vouch that women are better sewer than men, both hand and machine-operated :) I can't believe tomorrow you start your second part of the tour "Born In Ice". Time flies.


  3. Ouch! A dislocated shoulder...and you did get back on the horse (with a slight delay in doing so, lol). Were your students impressed with their teacher's bravery?

    Michelle B. aka Koshkalady

  4. Hi, Na. My mother-in-law had a Singer Featherweight machine. Beautiful! I know, it's going fast.

  5. Haha, Michelle. They couldn't figure out what the big deal was. Of course, getting off, I fell in the dirt. They were a good group, very caring.

  6. Linda, I love the research you've done. I remember my grandmother's old Singer that ran by foot power!

    The book sounds like a great read.

    We had eleven horses, so my two kids grew up in the saddle. I rode but nowhere near as well as they did!

  7. Hi Jerrie. My grandmother had one of those too. Well, it's a shame that it took me so long to get back on a horse. At my age now, riding leaves me terribly sore in the hip joints.

  8. Please don't enter me into the contest.

    I just wanted to say that I learned to sew on a Singer sewing machine and actually sewed on one of thos "peddle powered" sewing machines. Mother has 3 of them! LOL

    Tracey D
    booklover0226 at gmail dot com

  9. I know I tried sewing on my grandmothers when I was a child, Tracey, but have always wanted to try again as an adult. How nice that your mother had 3!

  10. Another great article. My sewing machine isn't working right now and I was hoping to have a quilt made for a Christmas gift. At this rate it will probably be a birthday gift. :) Maybe I should track down one of these older models perhaps it wouldn't have broken down quite so easy. lol


  11. LOL, Sarah! I bet you're right. I think they rarely broke down.

  12. I loved all the historical info on the Singer sewing machine. I remember my grandmother's old Singer treadle machine. Thanks for an interesting post, Linda.

  13. Thank you, Sandy! Glad you stopped by!

  14. My aunt made my first prom dress on a Singer treadle sewing machine. Yep, it operated on foot power, no electricity or battery. It would go only as fast as you did.

  15. How awesome, Mary! What memory for you to share with your children. Thanks for stopping by.

  16. I learned to sew on a treadle Singer sewing machine. My Mother had it forever, but then they no longer made parts or accessories for it. So, she was forced to go more modern. Such a shame.

    Thank you for the memories.