Ancient sewing needles
The most ancient sewing needles, which date back to 28,000 BC, did not have an eye but a split end that gripped the thread to be sewn (often raffia, gut, or sinew). Needles from later than 17,500 BC already had the two features characteristic of the hand-sewing needle today – the eye at one end and the tapering point at the other end. They were made from the materials available to human society at the time, for example, bones and antlers.
The sinking of the sea level during the last lce Age around 14,000 BC (Wisconsin, USA) forms a bridge of land between the Asian and American continents. Man used this bridge and settled in America. This trek through ice and snow would have been impossible without the correct clothing. The needle made this possible and tolerable.
As people acquired skills in working metal materials, needles were also made from metal (Bronze Age approximately 7,000 BC), first from copper, and later from iron or bronze. Although there is no positive evidence as to the precise design of these needles, excellent pieces of embroidery from the pre-Christian era suggest that they were probably fashioned almost to perfection. Unfortunately, the articles made with these needles were only partially preserved and there are barely any traces of the needles themselves. This is largely explained by the effect of oxidation, which destroys metallic needles after a short time. Even needles made during the 19th century are now rarely found intact.
In 1845 Elias Howe (USA) invented a double chainstitch sewing machine. The machine used a slightly curved, eye-pointed needle. The bottom thread was in a shuttle. The fabric was transported past the needle on a spiked belt. Howe's sewing principle is the basis for the success of the sewing machine.
Basic needle formThe basic form of the hand-sewing needle remained the same, though the degree of tapering and the variation of the diameter over the length of the needle were slightly altered over time. To be able to make comparisons, one must study the needle from its very point to just below the needle's eye. Although the eye and the point have moved closer together, the basic functional elements of the needle, remain unaltered.