Sewing in the 19th century

Hey, Amy. You awake? I only have a quick question for you.

Uh, yeah, sure. Funny. (Not really).


I'm just curious about this whole business about Charlotte sewing a ball gown for the lady of the house. I think that's really going beyond her position as a maid, if she has to hand stitch it and all.

I'm wondering how she feels about it. Where will she ever find the time? According to Godey's Lady's Book, it takes at least ten hours to sew the simplest of a child's dress by hand, so just imagine creating a gown.

No, I'm pretty sure sewing machines haven't been invented for every day use yet, but I'll check.

The first workable sewing machine was patented in 1790 by Thomas Saint, a British inventor.  In 1830, a tailor in France, Barthelemy Thimonnier, took out a patent for the first  sewing machine that consisted of a hook-tipped needle, similar to an embroidery needle that produced a chain stitch. 
It wasn't until 1851 though, that Isaac Singer, an American inventor, businessman and wannabe actor, made crucial improvements to the design of the sewing machine, including the first rigid-arm machine. 

sew machine 2.jpg

In the mid 1800s, when you currently live, a sewing machine in the home is considered a luxury.
Isaac Singer has already made his fortune, and has recently retired. The Singer Company, though, is on a course of mass marketing that will see it become the largest sewing machine seller in the world. 
It won't be until the 1870s when sewing machines will become more of the norm in Canadian households. Refined technology will allow for the purchase of a reliable machine at a good price.
So, it looks like Charlotte may be hand stitching the entire gown after all.