Found my card reader. And I'm doing what I can to hop back on the tool train too. I receive regular requests for sewing machine recommendations, but am a little shy about recommending a starter sewing machine as I've been entirely spoiled on the sewing machine front and haven't had to shop for a starter sewing machine for, well two decades almost & I'm not that old!
I have three sewing machines and two sergers. My newest machine is a Bernina Artista 640. The coolest thing about this one is that I can design embroideries on my computer & then stitch them out at will. Of course, I confess, I've only done this once so far. But that's because I've been designing more than sewing in recent months. (Isaac wrote an article for Sew News about how to interface with these machines if you're a Mac user & not on PCs. The embroidery I designed for that article is available as a free download in my sidebar under "Free Embroidery File.") Anyhow, I'm not up to a comprehensive, statistical review, but I can say that Berninas are a very pleasant machine to sew on.
Speaking of Berninas -- Quick story -- Partway through my Apparel Design degree our workshop space was re-outfitted with an army of new Bernina 1620s. Reading through the manual late one night (many all-nighters were pulled at school - Project Runway pretty much wraps up the experience), there was a mention of 'memorized buttonholes,' but the instructions weren't clear what exactly those were or how to set the machine to do it. Oh, but the idea of 'memorized buttonholes!' I proceeded to poke & prod & tap out all manner of button sequences before I was successful. I think it took me an hour or so to break the code. Completely worth it! And, of course, I got to be Santa Claus the next day showing my friends that new technology. We all took a renewed interest in buttons that season.
Anyhow... sewing with a quality machine is really important, especially if you're new to sewing. I've taught many people to sew who were originally convinced they were stinky sewers. In every case I recall, it was their cheapy cheap sewing machines taunting them. The machines would lock up & the threads would get all tangled. Hands in the air, "I stink!" I'd re-thread the machine & get them going again, only for the machine to grunt & groan once more. "My friend, it's your machine that stinks! Here, try mine." "Oh, hmmm, maybe I can sew." Yes, I've witnessed this many times.
Of course, you don't need that Cadillac up there in order to be successful either. Most new sewers should look for a machine with a straight stitch, a zig-zag stitch, buttonhole capability, back-stitch button, ability to change needle position, interchangeable feet, etc. But go with one of the better brands. (Can't say just which models though as I haven't researched any of this lately.) Get a good quality machine so you're more likely to succeed & to like yourself as a sewer.
Otherwise, just know that if you're learning to sew with a $50 machine from the drugstore that half of your sewing battles are not your fault. Blame the machine. That works too. And don't give up sewing!
My other machines...
• Viking #1+ Sewing Machine - Not as new as the Artista 640, so it's not in prime position anymore, but I still like this machine a lot. This is the machine I take out when a friend comes over to sew. And I like to do buttonholes on this one too (out of familiarity, I think).
• Bernina 840 Sewing Machine - Old machine. It was old when I got it too. But it has metal parts! And everyone I've ever heard discuss this machine has given it the - same - exact - nickname -, "workhorse," which really weirds me out. I've lent this machine out to many friends who were learning to sew. And this is the machine I do all of my upholstery and slip-cover sewing on. It's not an industrial machine, but it's tough.
• Bernina 2500 DCET Serger - Haven't mastered this one yet, but it does all of those cool hem stitches for sewing with knits. I like to keep this one set on a cover stitch and use my other serger for overlock, so I don't have to switch the threading around too much. See, totally spoiled.
• Bernette 234 Serger - I love this serger. Just a good, straight-forward machine that's easy to troubleshoot. Perhaps its our history though. Loyalty. I bought this one used. It was the summer I turned 20. I had already survived one fashion show in college (huge collection, one-of-a-kind hand-sweaters too, so tiring!) & I knew I'd be putting together another collection the following year. This serger was my ticket to sewing at home & pulling fewer all-nighters at school (yes, those were crazy-fun, but I was newly-married & trying to be more sensible). It was $200 or $250 at the time, which was about as much as we paid in rent, but neither of us flinched. It was a good call.
So, those are my machines, a couple of which came as presents from my generous MIL who opted to be paid in machines in exchange for design work (machine embroidery, I think) over the years . She's just about outfitted all of her daughters with top-of-the-line machines now. Ridiculously fabulous & indulgent pursuit, don't you think? Yes, there were times when my sewing machine was worth more than my car. Not the nicest cars back then though.
take some photos of my other machines & mix them into this post
later this week to break up all this text. I could probably go on, but
I'm actually sewing today & am anxious to get back to it. I'll upload some N.Carolina photos for next time too.