What do I recommend to a beginner?
If you are just starting out on a small budget, the Brother CS6000i would be a great choice. It’s easy to thread, has a built in bobbin winder, an automatic needle threader, 60 types of stitches, and numerous button hole options. It also comes with an oversize table attachment which is handy if you are working on appliqué. For a machine priced under $150 on Amazon, it’s a very good starting point for someone learning to sew.
If you are looking for a machine with embroidery features that won’t hurt your wallet, Brother offers the SE400 embroidery machine. The embroidery hoop on it is a small 4″x4″ area, but it’s a good introduction to using a machine with an embroidery feature! I use Embird for creating embroidery files for my Brother machine.
If you are ready to start using a serger, the Brother 1034D is the best choice for a beginner on the market, in my opinion. Relatively easy to thread and operate, I bought this model in 2009 and it has survived years of heavy use. It’s a 4 thread machine that comes with option feet. For it’s price, the quality is quite nice and it certainly can improve your cosplay with nicely finished edges. It’s also the preferable way to sew 4-way stretch materials if you find yourself working with spandex or stretch vinyl a lot.
I buy just about everything I can on Amazon, and have found that it’s generally the best place to buy sewing accessories without the huge mark-up that comes with sewing tools from brick and mortar retailers. I can’t live without it these days, so I recommend trying Amazon Prime for 30 days if you decide to get sewing products from the online retailer. It shows up to your door in 2 days and they have good customer support. My roommates give me a hard time for getting so much on Prime, but you can get just about anything there these days! If you are a busy person, it’s a time effective solution.
Check out Brother’s whole line of sewing machines on their website. My ‘grail’ machine is currently the Quattro 3 6750D… hey we can all dream!