A standard electric sewing machine is an amazing piece of technology.

­Without the sewing machine, the world would be a very different place. Like the automobile, the cotton gin and countless other innovations from the past 300 years, the sewing machine takes something time-consuming and laborious and makes it fast and easy. With the invention of the mechanized sewing machine, manufacturers could suddenly produce piles of high-quality clothing at minimal expense. Because of this technology, the vast majority of people in the world can now afford the sort of sturdy, finely-stitched clothes that were a luxury only 200 years ago.

In this article, we'll take look at the remarkable machine that makes all of this possible. As it turns out, the automated stitching mechanism at the heart of a sewing machine is incredibly simple, though the machinery that drives it is fairly elaborate, relying on an assembly of gears, pulleys and motors to function properly. When you get down to it, the sewing machine is among the most elegant and ingenious tools ever created.

Sewing machines are something like cars: There are hundreds of models on the market, and they vary considerably in price and performance. At the low-end of the scale, there are conventional no-frills electric designs, ideal for occasional home use; at the high-end, there are sophisticated electronic machines that hook up to a computer. Textile companies have many machines to choose from, including streamlined models specifically designed to sew one particular product.

But just like cars, most sewing machines are built around one basic idea. Where the heart of a car is the internal combustion engine, the heart of a sewing machine is the loop stitching system.

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