We finally got a sewing machine with a few gizmos.
Once I decided to get a sewing machine, I started my research with the goal of finding a good quality machine with some automated features, basic stitches, one the kids and I could learn on together. Perused sewing machine reviews on Pattern Review and Amazon. Great info at Craftster, including So You Want to Learn How to Sew on a Machine.
Purchased a cute little Janome Magnolia 7330 and could not be happier!
I sewed without thread on watercolor paper, playing with the stitches, the presser foot,etc. Then the kids explored without thread.
It took me a decade to brave a sewing machine again. Finally my desire to sew stuff, and especially add stitching to my journal pages, outweighed my fear of the darned machine. My old machine used to make pretty little thread nests in the bobbin area. I do not understand how they work but I think it is some sort of magic.
I have a background in process documentation, so here are my wishes for sewing machine instructions. Write them with the non-sewist as the audience. Make the instructions a value-added component of buying that particular machine. Show a diagram not with simple arrows describe what each part does. Include a list of parts that fit the machine, what they do, with part numbers. Recommended threads that won't lintify your machine. Describe how to use the machine. What might cause needle breakage/damage? What is a bobbin, what does it do, do you need the same type of thread in the top thread as the bobbin? What's the difference between a feed dog and a presser foot? What will break a needle? What types of needles you should have on hand? Ad infinitim.
It's amazing how many people have taken the time and energy to make this information available. Wow!