the sewing machine is readily acknowledged as one of five most impacting products of the industrial revolution. everyone needs clothes. the sewing machine provides for unprecedentedly efficient clothing manufacture. the sewing machine made possible the modern day sweatshop and its relentless use of lower class ladies' fingers. the production ethic of the sewing machine is similar to that of mercantilism, a sixteenth century approach to labor on a national scale, where the laws encouraged and suppressed idleness, according to palmer and colten in their "history of the modern world." mercantilism encouraged the home production by homebound, mostly ladies, doing piecework clothing construction. any one woman who was good at making collars would make them en mass and deliver them to her friend making blouses, who would deliver them completed to a clothing broker. this way the labor stayed in the country, homebound persons with rudimentary skills could contribute to balancing the trade deficit. by distributing standard clothing assignments, each homebody can work by rote. similarly, with the sewing machine, people don't even have to speak the mother tongue to be taught to make clothing. nothing beyond nimble fingers and a desperate financial situation is required to find hundred-hour per week employment for pennies constructing impossible amounts of now disposable clothes. having worked for a computer company that shared a "hip" warehouse space with quite a number of asian employing sweatshops, this is what i associate with the sewing machine. both those ladies i saw making gap sweatshirts and mercantile maidens of the sixteenth century can be compared to the actual revolution in production that proceeded widespread distribution of sewing machine technology. as the ladies became modular and replaceable, focusing on the specific portion of production for which they were responsible, so did sewing machine manufacture come to epitomize the industrial revolution's move towards interchangeable parts in construction. so, in this case, gunsmiths from colt's armory, where interchangeable parts had first achieved viable use, consulted on the construction methods for early model sewing machines. composing machines of pieces that could be exchanged for pieces from any other machine entails manufacturing precision, hence the massive late-nineteenth expenditure for dyes and expensive tools. the sewing machines built immediately preceeding this period were often composed of parts subcontracted to disparate manufacturers, and then made to fit with a file and a malette. this is the kind of intermediate step between earlier, more human produced goods, and fully machine manufactured goods; where the human is responsible for assembling machine output, or using intimately machine assistance. the materials resulting are often neither handcraft or machine made, but some assembled synthesis of the two. eventually, as singer continued their capital expansion, they arrived at a point of production where both their tremendous resources, and the ease of assembling a precision jigsaw allowed them to present hundreds of thousands of singer sewing machines per year. when we imagine the number of nikes needed by north americans, the pattern must be handed from indonesian to indonesian as each shoe takes shape, precision jigsaw footwear - a recent unfortunate kind of focus and conservativism of workmanship.