This past weekend, members from the Omaha Modern Quilt Guild were at Joslyn Art Museum to share quilting with our community. We held a "Block Party" family day event on Saturday and a Girl Scout sewing event on Sunday. There will be a separate post with pictures and details, but it was an amazing weekend. I love when someone is aprehensive to sit at a machine to sew but gives it a try anyway. So many of the youth that tried sewing were hooked and would have sat there all day sewing up quilt blocks!
I started teaching my son to sew when he was about 4 or 5 years old. I sew with Girl Scout troops. I am the club leader of the Douglas/Sarpy County 4-H Happy Hands Quilters. I needed some good, reliable, easy-to-use machines that didn't cost a fortune but would stand up to use and abuse. After much research and purchasing more than one inexpensive (but crappy) machine, these are my recomendations for beginner sewing machines.
If possible, I recommend shopping locally and visiting your local quilt shop (if they also sell machines) or a local sewing machine dealer. Tell them you are looking for an entry-level machine for a beginning sewer. The benefit of purchasing from a shop is you have local support if you have problems with or questions about the machine. Quite often, shops will offer a lesson on operating the machine so you can start sewing as soon as you get home. Since not everyone has a local quilt shop available or feels comfortable walking in to shop for machines, there are also options to purchase online. You will not get the local support you would purchasing locally. Many shops offer sewing classes, but they may not know your particular machine and expect you to be able to operate and troubleshoot it.
I initially purchased a few machines from the Derby line from Janome. They are small and portable. They come in fun colors. They are made by Janome which is a great brand of sewing machines. My machines worked perfectly for the first few classes and events I did...then they jammed and I never could get them working properly again. At this point I started doing quite a bit of online research on the best entry-level sewing machines. I finally decided on the Janome Mod-19 because it was reasonably priced, has interior metal parts (many inexpensive machines have plastic parts), and you can drop the feed dogs (should I decide I want to teach free-motion quilting at some point). I have purchased two machines that I use for teaching kids to sew, and several of the 4-H families have purchased the same machines. When we travel, I take one of my Janomes so I can sew in the evenings. Even though I'm used to sewing on an expensive Bernina, I enjoy using the Janome Mod-19 and have never had any issues with either machine I purchased.