"What machine do you use?" I'm asked. Now, I use a Viking Sapphire 850. I've had it for about 6 months. I've been very happy with it. It's a middle of the road machine for price. I guess that is one of the main reasons I bought it. It has the same motor as there top of the line machine with a smaller price tag. If I could afford the larger price tag, I would have bought an Elna or a Bernina. The Viking has lots of stitches and electronics. It also has lots of power and speed. I can sew the very heavy fabrics very easily. When looking at a machine to buy, think of the kind of sewing you want to do. Think of the times you have said"I wish I had a sewing machine to do this myself". For a first time machine, you don't need one that does everything. Do you want to sew T shirts? Make sure the machine you pick will sew stretch fabric. What about jeans hems? Will it sew through several layers of denim fabric. Will you only be sewing cotton for quilts and bags? Take sample fabric with you. Sew on the machine you are thinking about. Is it running smoothly? Is it a picky machine? Will you be able to sew silk then denim without changing all your settings?
Find a good dealer who will work with you and explain things. Try out lots of machine, even the ones you won't buy so you know the difference. Buy one with a good service support and a good warranty. Go home and think about it. Then get the best one you can afford. The last machine I had for almost 30 years and sewed professionally for 20 years with it. The investment was worth it.
If you are not sure you will use one much here is an idea to think about. I've seen some good machines at goodwill. Take someone with you who knows about sewing machines. Try it out there and make sure everything is working. Some machines are not worth buying. The tension is so picky that you will just get frustrated and stop and never want to learn to sew and miss the fun of it all.
If you want to sew clothing, you might want a surger. This one is ancient. I have have it for 28 years, but it keeps working wonderfully. A surger finishes your seams by trimming and sewing an over lock stitch at once. It's the stitch you see on all your knit clothing. If you are just quilting or crafting you won't need one. I think it's a must for clothing.
When you have two machines, set them close together so you don't have to get up and down all the time. I have mine at right angles so I just have to turn my chair.
Have your tools close at hand too. The easier things are to use the more you will do and enjoy the process.