I could cry. I really could.
Two years ago, my generous husband bought me this:
A Singer Futura CE-250 Sewing and Embroidery Machine. I loved it from the moment I had it. It was soooo easy to use. I've always had issues with tension. I would follow the directions of every machine, and still have issues. Not with the Futura.
It has a little screen that shows digital numbers (for the 100 stitches, which are great) and two slide knobs with little lights next to them. One is for the tension, and the other is for the stitch length. When you enter in the stitch you want, you then slide each of those knobs until the red light next to the knob changes to green. Then you know you are in the proper range for that stitch. You could choose a different range if you wanted to, though.
If there is an error with the machine, the little window will show "Er", then flash a number. You look it up in the book, and you know what to fix. It could be anything from "presser foot is up" to "tangled thread". I only had a tension problem one time, and was able to fix it relatively easily. I LOVE that machine.
I only used the embroidery part of the machine once, but it worked great, especially for a first timer. My biggest advice with this is that if you're doing your lettering small, test it on a scrap first. When I did the medium sized lettering, it looked fine, but with the smaller lettering, it didn't show up as well. It probably would have in a different, thicker font.
The unique thing about this machine is that instead of having proprietary software, which would keep you from using other companies' embroidery designs unless you bought a separate card reader, the Futura can read all the common software. So you can download most embroidery designs on the internet, including all the freebies! If that wasn't good enough, Singer includes a whole bunch of software programs, including the most important, Autopunch, which helps you create your own embroidery designs. You can turn any font or clip art into an embroidery design, and then EDIT it! It's really cool.
This used to retail for around $900, but it's usually going around $200 more right now. The CE-150 is similar, but has only 24 stitches, and doesn't have the "error" window (but does still have the tension and stitch length slide knobs). HSN has some videos of the Futura on it's website.
I would HIGHLY recommend this machine to anyone, based on ease of use. I can't say about longevity, however. Here is where the crying comes in.
You see, a year after I got it (and without having had the time to use it enough), we had to sell it. Some financial problems and an impending move forced us into it, and I've regretted it every day since. (Stupid, stupid, stupid!)
Because now, HSN no longer carries this machine (I don't have a nice big tax return this time to afford one...I need the flex pays on HSN.) They carry the Futura CE-150, which is probably fine, but has less stitches, and is now selling for the same price that the 250 sold for two years ago! They're also selling the step up, the new Futura SE 2000, which is $1500! Yikes, even flex pays won't help me get that one. So no Futura for me in the near future.
I could cry. I really could.
But I did find a new sewing machine. Tune in for the unveiling...