I say for people on a budget, go to a pawn shop/thrift store and get a machine. Then go to Hancock's fabrics (or JoAnns) and get them to do maintenance on the machine (Oil, replacements, etc.) You could try ebay too, could.
I'd recommend a brand but I haven't much experience with alot of them. But I do fancy Kenmore, I'm inheriting one from the late 80s/early 90s. If you're buying a Kenmore, buy one from Sears and make sure the parts are metal. The Kenmore I'm occasionally using has gone through lots of dresses, corsets, costumes, etc. It can definitely step up to the challenge.
And if you're a rabid sewing child, I'm not sure about locations but Hancock's Fabrics had a program for some kind of monthly maintenance on your machine for cheap. Other than that, oil out your parts, replace your needle monthly (unless it's 8 heavy projects in one month, probably replace the needle after each project) and make sure the machine you're getting AT LEAST has a proper straight stitch and a zig zag stitch.
Yup, that's my 2 pence. Sorry if it wasn't the straight up reply you're looking for with exact details, but just thought I'd say something. Oh, and read ALL of those threads that the main poster posted. Those are a Godsend >:3
Last edited by Honey Usagi-chi : 11-17-2007 at 08:15 PM.