01 of 30
Sewing the First American Flag
Take a look back at pictures of sewing machines available to our ancestors.
You'll find photos of the first Singer sewing machine, but it's a varied gallery that includes a variety of vintage sewing machines from different manufacturers.
Many of the ads for the vintage sewing machines in this collection are available as wall-art from a number of companies, printed on either canvas or paper.
About the Photo on This Page
This photo on this page, a Henry Mosler painting called The Birth of... the Flag, depicts Betsy Ross and her assistants sewing the first American flag in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1777.
No one, not even her descendants, is absolutely certain that Betsy Ross actually made the first American Flag, but the legend is part of America's history.Continue to 2 of 30 below.
02 of 30
Original Singer Sewing Machine
In August of 1851, Isaac M. Singer was granted a patent for the first Singer brand sewing machine.
The machine in the photo was built in 1854 and still in good working order 50 years later. Quilters are still fans of the Singer Featherweight sewing machine, and the earliest models of those machines aren't terribly far from the century mark.Continue to 3 of 30 below.
03 of 30
Singer Company Showroom in New York City, 1857
This wood engraving shows us the interior of the central office of I.M. Singer & Co. in 1857. The showroom and office were located at 458 Broadway in New York City.Continue to 4 of 30 below.
04 of 30
Woman Sewing on Singer Sewing Machine, 1860
Here, a woman is sewing on one of the first Singer sewing machines.Continue to 5 of 30 below.
05 of 30
Two Sisters Sewing, 1865
Taken in 1865, this photo is of two sisters, one sewing on a treadle sewing machine. The next photo in the gallery appears to have been taken at the same time but was dated 1855. One date isn't accurate but the timing is probably close.Continue to 6 of 30 below.
06 of 30
Vintage Singer Sewing Machine AdContinue to 7 of 30 below.
07 of 30
The S Girl, Vintage Singer Sewing Machine Ad
Singer began using the S Girl trademark in 1870, and many versions of the logo appeared around the world.
This vintage ad was printed in France.Continue to 8 of 30 below.
08 of 30
Vintage Singer Sewing Machine Ad
Here's another vintage Singer ad that illustrates another version of the company's 'S Girl.'Continue to 9 of 30 below.
09 of 30
Vintage Singer Sewing Machine Ad, 1892
This vintage Singer ad illustrates the many nations where Singer sewing machines were sold.Continue to 10 of 30 below.
10 of 30
Vintage Empire Sewing Machine Company Ad
I love this colorful ad by New York's Empire Sewing Machine Company. Said to date from about 1870, the ad features the Brooklyn Bridge.
The stagecoach and train in the ad seem to relate to the shipping choices that distant buyers could depend on when ordering a sewing machine, but that's just a guess.Continue to 11 of 30 below.
11 of 30
Young Women Sewing in Classroom, 1899
The photo of this group of young women, sewing by hand and with sewing machines, was taken in 1899 at the Agricultural and Mechanical College in Greensboro, NC.Continue to 12 of 30 below.
12 of 30
Vintage Ad for Kerr's Thread
This colorful mid 19th Century ad is for Kerr's Thread and plays on the activities at the New York Stock Exchange.Continue to 13 of 30 below.
13 of 30
Singer Treadle Sewing Machine
A photo of a vintage Singer treadle sewing machine.Continue to 14 of 30 below.
14 of 30
Vintage Portrait of Woman Sewing
Although this photograph is said to be from 1853, the sewing machine appears to be from a later era.Continue to 15 of 30 below.
15 of 30
Vintage Ad for a Husqvarna Treadle Sewing Machine
This 1902 ad from Denmark illustrates a Husqvarna treadle sewing machine. Reproductions of this image are available as framed art.Continue to 16 of 30 below.
16 of 30
Vintage Ad for Wertheim Sewing MachinesContinue to 17 of 30 below.
17 of 30
Peugeot Vintage Sewing Machine AdContinue to 18 of 30 below.
18 of 30
Elias Howe Sewing Machine, about 1900
This French ad for an Elias Howe sewing machine is said to date from about 1900.Continue to 19 of 30 below.
19 of 30
Vintage Ad for New Home Sewing Machine CompanyContinue to 20 of 30 below.
20 of 30
Royal St. John Sewing Machine
A vintage ad asking readers to come and try the Royal St. John Sewing Machine.Continue to 21 of 30 below.
21 of 30
Gnome et Rhone Sewing Machine Ad
Gnome et Rhone was primarily an aircraft engine manufacturer, but after World War I the company produced other items, too, including sewing machines.Continue to 22 of 30 below.
22 of 30
Vintage French Ad for Hurtu Sewing Machines
Hurtu made sewing machines, automobiles, bicycles and other items. Alex Askaroff has written a history of the company and its sewing machines on his website.Continue to 23 of 30 below.
23 of 30
Orion Sewing Machine AdContinue to 24 of 30 below.
24 of 30
Woman Sewing on an Electric Sewing Machine, 1925
This photo, from about 1925, shows a woman sewing on an electric sewing machine.Continue to 25 of 30 below.
25 of 30
Vintage Sewing Machine Advertising - Spain
The original caption for this vintage ad places it at about 1900, but it obviously dates from a later decade -- maybe 1930s or 1940s?Continue to 26 of 30 below.
26 of 30
Working on a Quilt in Oklahoma, 1936
Who says guys don't quilt! This 1930's era Oklahoma grandmother is working side-by-side with her grandson to quilt a project that's stretched on a frame.Continue to 27 of 30 below.
27 of 30
Embroidered Quilt with Quiltmaker, about 1940
This photo is said to be of Mrs. Bill Stang, and was taken in Pie Town, New Mexico in 1940. Mrs. Stang is standing by a quilt that she made, with blocks that represent the 48 states that made up the U.S. at that time.Continue to 28 of 30 below.
28 of 30
Child Sewing on a Toy Sewing Machine
It looks like this little girl is serious about putting fabric under the presser foot of her little sewing machine. The photo is said to date from about 1945.Continue to 29 of 30 below.
29 of 30
Vintage Lone Star Quilt at the Pennsylvania Dutch Fair in Hershey
Said to date from 1955, this photo depicts a Mennonite woman showing a Lone Star quilt to two young ladies, both dressed in the plaid that was so popular at that time. I had to chuckle at the 'official' caption for the photo: A Mennonite woman explaining the symbols on a quilted blanket to visitors to the Pennsylvania Dutch Fair in Hershey.
It certainly doesn't look like a blanket to me.Continue to 30 of 30 below.
30 of 30
Hanging Quilt on Clothesline
I doubt most of us would hang a quilt on a clothesline to dry -- yikes, think of the droops and possibly-permanent folds it would create! This photo was no doubt staged to appear vintage, but I like the quilt, which might actually be vintage.