When purchasing a sewing machine, it is important to first prioritize which features are most important for what you will be using it. Before knowing which elements you want, you need to understand sewing machine features and their functions.
The first step in understanding the features of a certain sewing machine would be to find out the brand you are interested in purchasing. Most companies have their own websites explaining the features and pricing of each of their models of sewing machines. This would be a good start in understanding each product and its qualities. Manuals for many sewing machines can be found online as well.
Next, it would be a good idea to drop in to some of your local craft and/or fabric retailers and ask someone in the sewing department for their professional opinion. You can ask them specific questions about the features you are looking for; they have most likely used a wide variety of brands and can tell you which ones are worth their price tag. After discussing options with several retailers and looking at manufacturers' websites, you can see which features that would benefit you the most for your sewing projects. Make a prioritized list of those features and now start comparing prices! Once you narrow your options down to a few different machines or even brands, go back to the manufacturer's sites and see which ones are in your price range. This is also a good chance for you to research, in detail, each of those machines' functions and begin to understand how to use it. Make sure to find out where you could get maintenance if something were to go wrong--some may be extremely expensive to repair.
Some of the most basic functions of a mechanical sewing machine include: a pressure foot or foot control, bobbin, needle plate, reverse sewing button, pressure foot lever, spool pin, and thread guide and take-up, just to name a few. If a modern sewing machine is what you are looking for, there is a wide range of extras that will make your complex sewing jobs much easier; you can even purchase digital, computerized sewing machines. These can even embroidery designs on your fabric through software programs. Some seamstresses feel that these extras take the enjoyment out of sewing, while others take advantage of these progressive sewing features to save time in their busy lives, while still creating beautiful projects.
In your quest to understand features of a sewing machine and decide on one to purchase, make sure to give yourself plenty of time to explore all the possible options. When acquiring a new sewing machine, you will want to get one that will last you through many years.