While you will only need basic functions right now, I think the best machine is the one that fits where you want to go -- sewing machines are expensive, and you don't want to have to buy another one as soon as you've mastered the basics. For instance, if you're going to be quilting, or want something that can do buttonholes, or need something with a wide range of stitch sizes and types, then figure that out now. Sure, you can get away with a $100-$200 machine right now, but then you'll still have to buy that perfect one after that -- possibly in less than a year.
Look at a simple Singer........
Even a beginner will need, zig-zag and reverse stitching. An automatic button-hole maker is fantastic. A zipper foot is a wonderful tool.
Singer ( and Brother ) offers this in affordable models..............less than $150. ( you might find them for less......on sale, closeouts...etc)
But, first, the beginning sewer, must know how to read and cut a pattern. Thread a needle and bobbin, press a seam................the machine will not do this for them.
The basic machine can serve you well , for many years, sometimes, beyond our capabilities~
Keep, " beginner" at the front of your mind........There will be, resale value, or passing it on to a cousin....opportunties.
Not all high school drummers make it to the big bands~
It's a balance among having enough functionality once the beginner is more experienced; not being so complex as to overwhelm the beginner; and, of course, cost.
I suggest talking to a salesperson at an actual brick-and-mortar sewing retailer, especially if the place does repairs. Find out what are the most reliable models (I have a personal preference for Brothers, but there are multiple options). You can get a solid mechanical model (without elaborate computerized functions) for very reasonable prices.
When I got one of my machines about 10 years ago, the shop had just supplied the local high school with new machines for their home economics classrooms. I got that model, and have been very happy with it.
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