The first progress of sewing machines was done for factory work, there were several starts and failures in Europe and America. You can read an overview of the history at About.com
For the purpose of a practical sewing machine for the 19th century housewife we start with Hunt & Elias Howe in 1834.
1846 Elias Howe was issued the first American patent
Then comes Isaac Singer who built the first successful machine. It was this sewing machine that started showing up in homes across America.
Yes, there was a patent war between Singer and Howe and Howe one, making him a wealthy man. Of course, Singer continued his production and paid royalties to Howe.
For purposes of writing historical fiction note these facts.
1846 Howe introduces the first home use sewing machine.
1851 Singer introduced a sewing machine for home use. His was scaled down for home use.
1854 Singer received patent for home sewing machine. This machine had a rigid arm and held the fabric down.
1889 First practical electric sewing machine
By the end of the century Singer claimed 80% of the world market.
Another source for a time line is from Idea Finder.