Today in 1811, the birthday of Isaac Singer.

He’s best known as the inventor of the modern sewing machine, but had it been up to him, Singer would have been known for stage acting.

Singer was born in Pittstown, New York, though he ran away from home at age 12.

At one point he was set up as a mechanic’s apprentice, but he gave up that situation because he wanted to start his own traveling theater company.

He’d spent a lot of his time in his apprenticeship memorizing Shakespeare anyway, so why not just make theater his job?

Singer’s theater group toured around the country for nine years.

He sometimes took work on the side in between shows, though most of his free time was spent fathering children.

He had 18 kids by several women before he was married, and then six to eight more through his two marriages.

Anyway, when the theater company ran out of money and shut down, Singer went back to machine work, including a job at a shop that repaired sewing machines.

During one repair job, Singer not only fixed the model but vastly improved it.

His machine included a presser foot, which made sewing faster.

It could sew longer than previous machines, and it could even sew in curves.

By 1857, Singer & Company was producing machines that sold for 10 bucks, which was an affordable price at the time.

Just a few years later, it was the biggest sewing machine maker in the world and Singer himself was massively wealthy.

Though I can’t say why he didn’t just take all that money and get his theater group up and running again.

Tomorrow in Los Angeles, the Carrera de los Muertos.

It’s a Day of the Dead-themed 5K race, which means that hours before the running begins, people gather to get their faces painted in the style of the holiday.

⁠Isaac Singer⁠ (Biography)

⁠Carrera de los Muertos⁠

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Portrait by Edward Harrison, National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, gift of the Singer Company, via Creative Commons