Cotton canvas was around for a long time before the creation of the first sneaker-type construction; however, sewing small pieces of canvas into a three-dimensional shape that conforms to the foot is quite tedious by hand. The lockstitch sewing machine was invented and patented in 1845 by Elias Howe, which allowed fabrics of all weights and constructions to be quickly and neatly stitched together. In 1851, Isaac Merrit Singer improved upon Howe's invention (and also infringed on Howe's patent), and started his own sewing machine business that still prospers among home sewers and clothing factories (Bellis 2004). Singer's sewing machine was further evolved for the shoe industry by one of his own employees: Lyman Reed Blake. In 1856, Blake became a partner in a shoemaking company and was dedicated to inventing machines that helped automate the shoe-manufacturing process. In 1858, he received a patent for a machine that could stitch shoe uppers to outsoles. He sold his patent to Gordon McKay in 1859, and worked for McKay from 1861 until his retirement in 1874. The shoes made on this machine were known as "McKays" (United Shoe Machinery Corporation 2004).
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