Apr 1, 2024

Celebrating 55 Years of the 1st Home Serger

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In celebration of the 55th Anniversary of the first household serger, the EF-205, Baby Lock is commemorating this milestone in sewing history by launching a new 55th Anniversary Limited Edition 4-Thread Serger. Keep reading below to learn more about the history of the 1st Baby Lock serger. 


A Heritage of Innovative and Creative Craftsmanship


"The development of the world's first home lockstitch sewing machine began in 1956 with Koichi Sakuma's creation of a wooden prototype."

"Immersed in craftsmanship since childhood, Koichi Sakuma joined Suzuki Factory in Yamagata as an apprentice blacksmith in 1946.

Later, at the same company that commenced household sewing machine manufacturing in 1949, Sakuma took on the role of assembling and repairing sewing machines. Witnessing an apprentice's lady at a client tailor, who consistently hand-sewed fabric edges, he couldn't help but sympathize, wondering, 'When will this lady receive lessons in the art of tailoring?'"

"Koichi Sakuma continued to ponder on a method to make sewing fabric edges swiftly and easily with a sewing machine, thinking, 'If she can effortlessly and quickly stitch fabric edges with a machine, this lady could learn the art of tailoring sooner and achieve independence faster.' In 1956, based on the idea he ultimately reached, Sakuma created a wooden prototype. He confirmed that the edge-sewing machine operated just as he envisioned."


  • Wooden prototype of the edge-sewing machine


  •  Sakuma has been passionate about craftsmanship and model-making since childhood, in the above photo is one of his innovative developments “Cherry Seeder”. A machine to remove the cherry seed for canning.


"In 1958, at the age of 26, Koichi Sakuma consulted the company president about commercializing the edge-sewing machine. However, facing strong opposition from both the president and colleagues since the company had already withdrawn from manufacturing household sewing machines, Sakuma persisted. Driven by unwavering conviction in the utility of the 'edge-sewing machine,' he went ahead and physically created it. Unable to settle without testing it, he obtained permission for nighttime use of machinery, including a 'bucket of scrap metal.' After completing his regular work, he dedicated himself to prototyping the edge-sewing machine."


  • Prototype No.1


"In 1963, Koichi Sakuma's efforts bore fruit as the prototype of the edge-sewing machine was completed. When he showed the stitch samples made from the prototype to clients, they expressed surprise, saying, 'This stitch is called overlock and has been on industrial sewing machines since ancient times.' This was astonishing because Sakuma had unknowingly created a prototype of the edge-sewing machine without knowledge of industrial overlock machines. Despite initial disappointment, he was disheartened, thinking, 'If sewing machines already exist in the world, there's no need to create something new.' However, retailer advice emphasized that since household lockstitch machines didn't exist globally, there was significance in commercializing the developed edge-sewing machine. As a result, Sakuma's developed edge-sewing machine started moving towards commercialization."

The edge-stitching machine, when brought into production, distinguished itself by its petite appearance compared to the industrial lockstitch machines of the era. This characteristic led to the adoption of the renowned "baby lock" brand. It made its worldwide debut in February 1968 as the "baby lock EF-205."



  • baby lock EF-205                   


  •   Production line of the EF-205


Even afterward, Sakuma continued with his unique approach as a technician, stating, “I don’t look at existing products or literature, including patents. They hinder the creation of groundbreaking innovation.”, his development including the “Automatic Threading Delivery System” and the “Looper Air Threading” feature. He also pioneered creative machines like the Sashiko. Until his retirement in 2014, he obtained over 200 patents domestically and internationally.

Currently, the development of Baby Lock is carried on by Koichi Sakuma's son, Toru Sakuma. To this day, Baby Lock development continues the same philosophy that Baby Lock embraced from the beginning—craftsmanship that is not imitative but remains creative and innovative.


  • Koichi Sakuma (Left), Toru Sakuma (Right)



In 2023, marking 55 years since the release of the "baby lock EF-205," it was recognized as a significant product by the National Museum of Nature and Science, Japan. The machine, originally categorized as an industrial small overlock sewing machine, played a pivotal role in pioneering new markets, leading to a shift in the classification from industrial to household machines. This accomplishment prompted its inclusion in the Essential Historical Materials for Science and Technology, acknowledging its contribution to altering the definitions of industrial and household sewing machines.

The Essential Historical Materials for Science and Technology is a registration system launched in 2008 by the National Museum of Nature and Science to preserve, recognize, and make the best use of prominent scientific and technological achievements worthy of being passed onto future generations and materials that have had significant impact on Japan’s lifestyles, economy, society and culture. To date, more than 300 products that blazed a trail in each field have been chosen, such as “Hikari Super Express" by Japan Railways, the world's first stereo cassette player "Walkman" by Sony, and the world's first commercially available digital camera by Fuji Film.


Article and images provided by Baby Lock Japan.

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