The sewing machine, which revolutionized the clothing industry, is generally considered the invention of Thomas Saint, an Englishman, in 1790. For seamstresses, home sewing machines allowed them to produce clothing for the average person during periods when demand for fitted clothes was low, effectively increasing their earnings. When industrial sewing machines initially became popular many seamstresses working in factories as well as those working at home lost their jobs as it meant that fewer workers could produce the same output.
In the long run, these now unemployed workers would eventually be able to gain employment in jobs created as the clothing industry grew; today, the apparel industry in the United States is $225 billion annually.
In "Fiddler on the Roof," the sewing machine is the "new arrival" that allows Motel and Tzeitel to provide more for their family because Motel is able to sew faster with more consistent stitching. As a result, the young couple, with their newborn, pledge their affection to the new machine. When the original Broadway production of "Fiddler on the Roof" was produced, "Dear Sweet Sewing Machine" was cut; however, the current cast includes the tune, and in honor of the sewing machine, we share it with you today.