This section is from "Scientific American Supplement Volumes 275, 286, 288, 299, 303, 312, 315, 324, 344 and 358". Also available from Amazon: Scientific American Reference Book.
In 1831, there was no means of making a seam except by the laborious process of the hand needle. In 1846, Eldred Walker patented a machine for parsing the basting thread through the gores of umbrellas, a machine that was very ingenious and very simple, but was utterly unlike the present sewing machine, with its eye-pointed needle, using sometimes two threads (the second being put in by a shuttle or by another needle), and making stitches at twenty-fold the rapidity with which the most expert needlewoman could work. By means of the sewing machine not only are all textile fabrics operated upon, but even the thickest leather is dealt with, and as a tour de force, but as a matter of fact, sheet-iron plates themselves have been pierced, and have been united by a seam no boilermaker ever contemplated, the piercing and the seam being produced by a Blake sewing machine. I believe all in this section will agree that the use of the sewing machine has been unattended by loss to those who earn their living by the needle; in fact, it would not be too much to say that there has been a positive improvement in their wages.
The next matter I have to touch upon is