Humans learnt to sew clothes a lot earlier than they learnt to build their dwellings. Although it would be more correct to say that primitive people’s first clothes were rather constructed than sewed.
The process of constructing a “going out” costume 20 thousand years ago looked approximately like this: firstly, the holes were pierced in an animal skin, then the animal’s tendons were passed through the holes. By doing so the “sleeves” were attached to the “back”. For an awl prehistoric people used strong thorns or whetted stones.
The first needles with eyes emerged approximately 17 thousand years ago. They were made from stone, bone, or antler. Of course the name of the inventor of the first needle is unknown to us, but we know where the first tailors who used those needles lived – in the territory of what is now known as Western Europe or Central Asia, and not Africa, the cradle of humanity. But that is understandable. In Africa it was possible to do without clothing but the climate in Europe would not permit this. In this instance, the cold was the mother of invention.
It is believed that the first metal needles were invented by Europeans in the third century BCE. The eye of those needles was so minute that only a horse’s hair could pass through it. But, in reality, metal needles were known before then. In the 5th century BCE the ancient Egyptians were already familiar with embroidery and the ancient Chinese at that time already used the thimble. Why would a thimble be needed if not as a protection against metal needles?
Steel needles emerged contemporaneously with Damascus steel – in the 1370s. These needles were introduced to Europe by Arab merchants.
And the industrial manufacture of steel needles commenced in Nuremberg at the very conclusion of the 18th century.