Irish Machine

The Singer 17W12 embroidery 'Irish' sewing machine. The Singer 17W12 embroidery 'Irish' sewing machine.

The so-called Irish machine uses a single, hooked needle that produces a zig-zag stitch with the appearance of a satin stitch. The machine is used to imitate hand made embroidery. Why these machines are called Irish is unknown, but the name is in widespread use.

Zig-zag machines have been in use since the mid-nineteenth century. However, at first they required considerable skill to move the hoop in the correct manner and took a long time to create a pattern. By the late 1920's, this machine had been perfected and formed the basis of the zig-zag stitch machines still used in the early twenty-first century.

This form of machine is especially popular with art and free style embroidery. The cloth is stretched over a round hoop and the hoop is moved according to the design required. The size of stitch can vary from several millimetres to about 10 mm, depending on the type of machine being used and the design being produced.


  • HOLMES, Val (2008). The Encyclopedia of Machine Embroidery, London: Batsford, pp. 86-87.
  • RISELY, Christine (1973). Machine Embroidery, London: Studio Vista, p. 85.

Digital source of illustration (retrieved 30 April 2017).


Last modified on Sunday, 30 April 2017 13:00