October 7, 2013

Sewing, sewing

Happy Monday! Already off to a fun-filled week of sewing here in my studio. The International Quilt Market  is coming up in a couple weeks and i've been working away on a quilt to bring. This one will feature my upcoming fabric line for Moda called, Daydream. Here's a peek:
It's a good thing i don't have to use this kind of sewing machine:
Copyright American Society of Mechanical Engineers 
That's a drawing of the first U.S. lockstitch sewing machine that was patented by this man (or rather, a statue of him) in our hometown, Bridgeport, Connecticut.
Photo from CT Monuments.net
"Elias Howe, Jr., (1819 – 1867) obtained a patent for the first practical sewing machine in 1845. In 1865, Howe opened a sewing machine factory on the Pequonnock River in eastern Bridgeport, where as many as 400 machines were manufactured a day." -Excerpt from Images of America: Bridgeport on the Sound by Bruce Williams and Mary K. Witkowski, Arcadia Publishing.

Though Elias Howe, Jr. was not the first to invent the sewing machine, he refined the machinery significantly. He was the one who put the eye of the needle at the point (instead of at the back like on hand sewing needles). And i'd have to say my favorite part of his contribution is the automatic feed. Without that, i'd never get this quilt done in time for quilt market!
An aside ... three cheers for our neighbor Bruce Williams. Bruce recently gave us signed copies of two terrific books: his Images of America: Bridgeport on the Sound book and another on his father, Man of the Waterfront: The Story of Kaye Williams and Captain’s Cove by Ralph Harvey (self-published). In addition to being an author, historian, and nature painter, Bruce continues to manage Captain’s Cove Seaport in the Black Rock section of Bridgeport. It’s a marvelously unique place that Bruce’s dad, Kaye Williams, envisioned, while he was a lobsterman out of Black Rock Harbor, and then built piece by piece. A good chunk of the Story of Kaye Williams book is about this. Some other funny stories on Kaye and his adventures were in a Connecticut Post article from last year, just a couple days before Hurricane Sandy hit in October: Captain's Cove founder no stranger to storms.

Back to Elias Howe, Jr.. Here’s how the Howe “Sewing Machine Manufactory” appeared:
This page came from a circa 1870 history of the State of Connecticut. My parents happened to give us a few already-separated pages from the old book last December. And, from the same book, a close-up of a map of Bridgeport showing the multi-block “E. Howe” plant and facilities around Noble St. and Howe St.
Today, the locale is...a parking lot. Sad! But you'll notice in the lower right corner that Howe St. is still there.
Photo from Google Maps
For more on Elias Howe, Jr., check out:
• Alex I. Askeroff’s history of Howe . Points out a funny fact that at end of the Beatles film, Help, there is a dedication to Elias Howe, Jr.
• The American Society of Mechanical Engineers’ brief bio of Howe

Ok, back to sewing. Thank you, Mr. Howe! And thanks to my assistant too:


  1. The quilt and fabrics look wonderful! And I love the historical glimpse into Howe and Bridgeport. It is fun to think you live in the town where the sewing machine was first patented! Very appropriate! Our hometown of Madison IN lost many of it's wonderful manufacturing buildings due to flooding and fires through the years. Thankfully, many remain, as I hope is also the case in Bridgeport :)

  2. Such a fun post! I am sewing with Daydream this week too...and loving it!

    I also love all of the historical information in this post! We've known for a while that William Bradford was our direct ancestor (11th great grandfather), but we've recently discovered we had 3 direct ancestors on the Mayflower--so I love hearing about anything historical in New England!

  3. It is looking great! I actually love to do all of my piecing on a hand crank, I find it very relaxing!

  4. I'm plotting my Daydream quilt; I think I've finally found the perfect pattern.

  5. Oh I'll just have to have some of that Daydream when it becomes available. It is gorgeous, as usual.

    I love the history lesson. Thank you for all the great info.

    And I hope your assistant is doing the job properly.


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