|I'm an absolute beginner sewist. Should I sell my mom's old Viking/Husqvarna Freesia 415 with its digital displays and opt for a sturdy mechanical machine? How do I go about picking a good all-purpose sewing machine that I can both learn on and grow with as my skills improve?
Assume I have zero sewing knowledge.
I have my mom's old Freesia 415 sewing machine. It has some digital display aspects I find somewhat confusing, though I have the user manual available as well. I've thought of selling or giving away this machine to get one I'm more excited about learning on and growing in skill with, long-term.
More affordable is good, but I'm not overly concerned about price if it's for the right machine. I would like to stay under $1000, ideally under $700.
Requirements: I'd like to be able to work with thick cotton duck fabric, since I work construction and want to be able to alter my Carhartt work pants and bibs. I also *might* like to work with leather at some point, but I suspect I'd have to get a completely separate machine for that -- is that correct?
Because I'd like to work with a variety of fabrics, I think I want something very sturdy and versatile. I am reluctant to use a digital or electronic machine. I like the idea of a tough mechanical machine with all-metal parts that are serviceable and replaceable, as opposed to most modern machines that (I suspect) have more plastic parts. Is this a reasonable requirement? What about one-step versus four-step buttonholes -- how important are those sorts of features? In general, what specific qualities and features should I look for in a machine?
Where should I buy a machine? Should I get one off Craigslist, or go to the local sewing machine store? I'm in Portland, OR, if anyone has local recommendations. I know at least some machine stores around here offer unlimited free classes and personal instruction with a machine purchase, which seems great to this total beginner and possibly worth the extra sticker price of a brick-and-mortar store over a Craigslist machine. Also, if I get a machine off Craigslist, I assume I'll have to worry more about what presser feet come with it, and I feel a bit confused about all that.
Finally, what specific brands and models do you recommend?