The invention of the sewing machine greatly benefited the textile industry and the consumer. It also afforded many women opportunities for work.
With the invention of the lock-stitch sewing machine with the eye-pointed needle, along with further perfection of some of the mechanisms, the garment industry was revolutionized. Clothing could be mass produced, thereby reducing the cost of individual garments. The garment industry also provided many women the opportunity for employment. Later, women might work on one particular aspect of each garment in an assembly-line manner. For instance, one worker might run only the inner seams of trousers for men. This type of work does not involve skilled workers and it speeds production, so it is profitable for the employer. Because it is cost-effective, the industrial-sewn garments produced are much less expensive than if each garment were sewn individually.
I.M. Singer, who designed sewing machines, came up with the idea of financial installment plans, which allowed people to make purchases which were more than they could afford otherwise. With the installment plan, many women purchased sewing machines so that they could make their own clothing, drapes, etc., and thus economize. The sewing machine was the first household machine that enabled women in their domestic tasks, saving them countless hours.
The sewing machine later played an essential role in the manufacturing of other goods. Anything that had upholstery, such as furniture and automobile seats, could be fashioned by the sewing machine. Also, items such as curtains, towels, pillows, various toys, even bound volumes of books could be sewn by machines. During the Civil War, these devices played a significant role as many uniforms had to be made for the soldiers quickly. Of course, they were used in the wars after the Civil War, as well.