Sewing Clamp (Sewing Bird) - Alberton Museum
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History of the Artefact:
Earliest known production date of this sewing Clamp is around 1900.
Sewing birds or sewing clamps were used in the 18th century to attach one end of a piece of cloth firmly to a table to enable a seamstress to hold her sewing taut with one hand while stitching with the other. Early clamps can be traced to the late 17th century.
The ‘sewing bird’ came into fashion early in the 18th century, invented in the Georgian period in England. It was the first device that allowed the material to be moved without having to loosen the clamp. Many were made for the travel trade and were used for advertisements. Most were made of polished and turned wood or iron, Victorian clamps were made of brass, iron, steel and painted wood.
In America, the first sewing birds were called ‘grippers’. Not used widely until the mid 19th century, they became popular as a luxury item, which a young man would present to his intended bride months before the wedding. These were made in many varieties, birds with or without pin cushions, deer, dogs, fish, frogs, dolphins, cherubs etc.
After the invention of the sewing machine the need for ‘grippers’ was diminished but they were still manufactured as novelties.