What were the First Sewing Needles Made of

To transform the steel wire into needles, no less than 11 operations are necessary:

​​- straightening (allows the thickness of the steel wire to be uniform)
– cutting into sections (allows the wire to be cut lengthwise)
– hot straightening (brings the steel to high temperature)
– sharpening (sharpens the tip)
– laundering (cleaning)
– stamping (shaping to give the almost final shape)
– drilling (making a hole)
– breaking (to remove the excess steel)
– filing the cheeks and heads ( size and gives the final shape)
– soaking (immersing in a cold bath to harden the needle)
– polishing (to make the needle smooth)

“At the beginning, each of these operations was carried out by a different machine, but in 1908, in his mechanical construction workshop, Paul Bohin invented the revolutionary machine capable of carrying out most of these operations. It was in 1868 that Benjamin Bohin creates the Bohin factory in Saint-Sulpice-sur-Risle in Orne (Normandy) and launches the manufacture of sewing needles. Today, machines dating from the middle of the 19th century are still in operation. And since 2010 the Bohin factory has been the only sewing needle manufacturer in all of Europe. […] The biggest needle producers are the Chinese.”

It was in the 11th century that metal needles were perfected by the Moors in Spain, especially for surgical procedures. When the Moors left Spain in the 15th century, they imported their knowledge to Arab lands, and then Arab merchants exported it to Europe.
Thus, it was not until the 17th century that Europeans learned to make pretty needles, especially the English, theirs being made by blacksmiths and very rudimentary. These needles were made by hand, the Industrial Revolution had not yet passed by. It was not until around 1850 that the first machines began to produce sewing needles.”

The history of the sewing needle

The sewing needle is one of the basic elements of the seamstress kit and there are usually several types. But do you know the history of sewing needles? Do you know how they are made? When did they first appear?

The first sewing needles

The first sewing needles appeared over 17,000 years ago and were made from bone. The invention spread quickly in Europe since many copies were found everywhere.
We even found ivory needles, dating back 30,000 years, in Russia as well as models in wood, porcupine quill, and agave leaves. These needles were used to join and sew animal skins, fur, and then other organic materials. In Ancient Egypt, copper, silver or bronze needles were used.

The Romans then developed other sewing tools such as finer metal needles and thimbles. In the Middle Ages, needles were considered valuable and kept safe.

The oldest iron needles were found in Germany, in the 3rd century BC.
Metal needles were perfected by the Moors in Spain in the 11th century, especially for surgical procedures. When the Moors left Spain in the 15th century, they imported their knowledge to Arab lands and Arab merchants exported it to Europe.
Thus it was only in the 17th century that Europeans learned to make pretty needles, especially the English, theirs being made by blacksmiths and very rudimentary. These needles were made by hand, the Industrial Revolution not having passed by there yet. It was not until around 1850 that the first machines began to produce sewing needles. In 1866, 100 million needles were produced a year in England.
The town of Redditch in England became the world center of needle production in the 19th century. They are so specialized that when a foreign manufacturer sent them a needle claiming it was finer than any other needle produced in England, the Redditch factory sent them back a needle so small that it contained the foreign manufacturer’s needle. !
Today, there are 3 million needle manufacturers, especially in China and Taiwan.

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