I love older sewing machines and I've always thought how cool it would be if a company started making a replica of one of the vintage models with all metal parts. I was surprised walking through Joann's the other day when I noticed a black sewing machine (which isn't normal these days.. they're always plain white). I got kind of excited and walked closer as I noticed the handwheel was a metallic color. I thought, "Could this be!?" But as I saw what is really was I was horrified.
This is Singers 160th Anniversary Limited Edition sewing machine. It is a disaster. You can't pass of cheap plastic and nylon/plastic gears for what sewing machines used to be. Sure the newer ones have more "bells & whistles" but none of that matters when you have a light-weight machine that rattles across the table and can't sew through a pant hem. You'll just get frustrated in the end because your machine cant do what you want it to do.
Buy older machines! They're SO much better! Maybe not OLD old like this Singer, but anything with a metal body is a good bet that you've got a good machine. Have someone check it out for you if you're not too familiar with machines before you buy it though. The oldies will last you a life time and will be your loyal friend if you just keep up with basic maintenance.
Don't get me wrong though.. there are good NEW machines out there but only the higher-end ones and they'll cost you a pretty penny. PFAFF and Bernina are my favorites with Husqvarna Viking coming in third. I had a Husqvarna Viking Madison (Limited Edition) I got used for $350 and loved that thing. The motor just wasn't strong enough for all the projects I do. ALL lower-end models steer clear from! Anything from your big-box stores are crap.. never buy from Wal-Mart or Target! Any new machine that is under $300 is going to be crap. If you want something new go to a dealer but you're going to pay a high price. I shop on Ebay or Craigslist. People buy machines and don't end up using them like they'd hope and sell them for really cheap. Ebay is risky because you can't see or test it out beforehand and some people aren't honest but check they're ratings and have a little knowledge about machines before you buy. Craigslist is great because they're local and you can test them out. When I was first researching machines I scoured the Internet and read about companies and read forums and reviews on different types of machines.. I even checked out books from the library that were all about sewing machines. A little knowledge will help you out a lot when buying a sewing machine!