Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Spiral Needle Sewing Machine

so much better
  (+4, -1)
(+4, -1)
  [vote for,

While contemplating a simpler design for a sewing machine, I came upon the concept of pulling the thread through the cloth with a horizontal, helix needle. Like a wire corkscrew, the needle would penetrate the moving fabric from above and below as it rotates. The needle would not be fixed in a clamp, but be held in place and driven, over and under the cloth, by two pairs of belts. One of these belt pairs would also smooth and pull the cloth layers towards the operator.

One end of the thread could be fixed at the needle hole at its rear, pulling the rest of the thread through the fabric, or the thread could be played out through the needle hole, half the thread stitched firm and half being pulled forward by the needle. I’m sure few understand much of this description before studying the exploded view below.

Only one thread. No need for an extra bobbin or the mechanics to interlock two threads.
The components to move and control the needle, thread, and cloth should be fewer and simpler.
Suitable for use in industrial sewing of sheets, sails, etc.

Cannot turn sharp corners.
The resulting zigzag stitch is wider than the popular straight stitch, but would be especially suitable for edge sewing to prevent fraying.
One cannot fix the thread ends by reversing, though this doesn’t seem to be an issue in today's garment industry.

FarmerJohn, Sep 04 2003

(?) exploded view http://www.geocitie...e/spiralneedle.html
[FarmerJohn, Oct 05 2004, last modified Oct 21 2004]

helical knitting Helical_20knitting#1132789169
[xaviergisz, Nov 11 2007]

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       looks interesting. have a kwassont.
pjd, Sep 04 2003

       &a kwossant
po, Sep 04 2003

       I'd say the spiral needle is innovative, but only moderately so. That is, it's quite clever and simple, but I think many people would consider it fairly early in the process of thinking about new ways to sew. But I think most people would also discard the spiral needle concept early on because of the problem of how to keep it moving through the fabric. All that to say I really love your concept for making the needle move. Very nice indeed.   

       Here's the problem: Each stitch adds a point of resistance with a new contact point between the thread and the fabric. After a few stitches (or a few dozen), the fabric would start to bunch up as the thread tries to pull through all those high-friction holes (and if they're not high-friction, the stitching will not do its job), and soon you won't be able to pull any more thread through the fabric.   

       You mention feeding the thread through the needle hole, which initially seems a nice way around this problem, but I don't think it's actually workable. As the needle eye goes through the fabric, it must carry two thread ends with it. From that point on, it's trying to thread both ends of thread through every stitch, and the feed thread must move through the initial hole and every subsequent hole and still make a 180 degree turn through the eye. I think the friction problem in this case would be even worse.
beauxeault, Sep 04 2003

       [beaux] I foresaw these weaknesses and thought that they would be diminished by tension on fabric, the mentioned playing out of new thread or even (auto) re-threading after intervals. Your last paragraph is similar to what happens in today’s sewing machines (two thread ends through the hole, 180 degree turn at the needle hole), though the thread isn’t pulled through all the holes. All in all, it seems pretty halfbaked.
FarmerJohn, Sep 04 2003

       What beaux said, friction is the killer. But you could always do it in space, where there’s no friction. <she said with a grin>
pluterday, Sep 04 2003

       <k_sra's father> "He who controls friction, controls the world." </k's f>
k_sra, Sep 04 2003

       + For the neat way of driving the needle.   

       I agree with everyone who said that the friction of trying to pull all the thread through all the holes at once would screw things up. But, with one addition I think this would work.   

       There needs to be a hook that comes down and pulls all of the thread through each hole, one hole at a time (in the same way that someone sewing by hand does.) Every time the trailing end of the needle emerges from the cloth, the hook latches onto the thread and pulls straight up until the full length of thread has been pulled through the most recent hole (not including holes still occupied by the needle).   

       You would be limited in the amount of thread you could use (depending on the height of your ceiling).   

       {I like the two-thread stitch made by a conventional sewing machine because it allows you to use two different weights of thread giving you the appearance of a fine thread on the front, and some of the structural support of a heavier thread on the back.}
AO, Sep 04 2003

       [AO] Good idea. Height shouldn’t be a problem, since the hook could pass the thread to a mini winch to pull it tight and release it for the next needle turn.
FarmerJohn, Sep 04 2003

       Move zigzig.
jivetalkinrobot, Sep 04 2003

       Oh oh <jumps up, waving hand like a madwoman> how about if you had the stitch yarn first, and then wove the fabric around it? Then you’d have a straight stitch! Wait, <sits down in embarrassment> maybe that’s more complicated...
pluterday, Sep 04 2003

       + for the idea, but as everyone has said, friction will be the killer here.   

       (all your belt are belong to us)
Freefall, Sep 04 2003

       + for just contemplating a simpler design for a sewing machine.
RayfordSteele, Aug 16 2007

       Sorry Farmar John, it won't work at all for several reasons. 1 - The backwards pressure caused by the needle penetrating the cloth and the friction along the length of the needle will cause the needle to jump out of the belt with slits in it.   

       2 - Due to the slickness of the needle the belt that turns the needle can not gain enough traction on to cause it to spin.   

       3 - If the needle is making 10 stitches per inch, the thread will twist 10 times per inch / 100 times in 10 inches / 1000 times in 100 inches.The thread will twist, tangle, knot up and break.   

       4 - The stitch produced is a "running stitch". It is useless for holding materials together, it is good for basting and gathering.   

       5 - When sewing sails (and most other materials as well) you absolutely, positively need a "lockstitch".   

       6 - There already are 1 thread sewing machines, they are called single thread chainstitch machines. Invented by Barthelemy Thimonnier in 1830. It was made functional in 1846 by Elias Howe and the idea and patent was later stolen by the Jewish American actor Issac Merritt Singer. Howe and Singer eventually came to an arrangement and began mass production in 1856.   

       - Curiously as well as being a thief of patented products Singer was also a bigamist. He married Mary Ann Sponsler while already married to Isabella Singer and continued to have children with both wives. After his death July 1875 Singer left an estate of about $14,000,000 and two wills disposing this between his family members. Suits followed, with Mary Anne claiming to be the legitimate "Mrs. Singer". In the end Isabella was declared the legal widow.
Moss Limbayter, Nov 10 2007

       I'd like to see FancyPants chime in on this one, who likely has more designing and sewing experience then anyone here.
Giblet, Nov 10 2007

       [Moss Limbayter] seems to know a bit about sewing too...
wagster, Nov 10 2007

       in addition to me thinking that this won't be working in general, not being able to see where one is sewing is key. i'm usually quite liberal with my baked goods, but this doesn't get one. but, yay sewing!
fancypants, Nov 11 2007

       Have you considered attempting to drive the needle like a worm gear? You then might be able to get away with a regular foot and feed similar to those of current sewing machines. I do think the friction will become quite a problem. You'll need to design some array of thread pulling mechanism(s) and a way to tie it off at both ends.   

       Alternately, you could try using a very, very long and fat needle that was hollow in the middle, and somehow force all of the thread into it before stitching began.
ye_river_xiv, Nov 11 2007

       Mr Mussburger, is such a nice man, I'll give him a double stitch anyway.
4whom, Nov 11 2007


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