If you haven't bought a machine yet, I highly recommend Pfaff. They are expensive, but they have a double feed(both top and bottom) which makes them super for tricky fabrics, and they last FOREVER, partly because all of the parts inside are metal, so they can take the strain of even professional sewing. I use one instead of an industrial for my work.
Also, a book they haven't mentioned in this thread is the one I use as my pattern textbook (I'm a fashion major at University of Cincinnati). It's called Apparel Making in Fashion Design
by Ingoo Kim. It uses geometry to draft patterns.
If you use this book, or do any pattern drafting, I highly recommend a curved ruler, (http://www.artistsupplysource.com/pr...oductid=32927)
. That is the one I use, it's designed to draw curved lines such as the hip, a arm hole, or a neckline.