1. Computerized Sewing Machines
2. Drop In Bobbin
3. Speed Control Lever
4. Needle Up and Down Button/Feature
Do you see that button (in the middle) on the machine that looks like a needle? That is the needle up/down button. If you press the button, you can put the needle down or up. But another great feature of these machines is that when the machine stops, the needle will automatically stop up or down depending on how you set it. On other machines, when you stop...it stops and the needle might stop part way down into the fabric and then you have to turn the handwheel to finish out the stitch so that you can remove the fabric from the machine. With this feature, you can set the machine so that it always stops with the needle up, that way, it finishes your last stitch for you. This can be a huge time server for beginners and lessens the likelihood of the thread becoming tangled when trying to take out your fabric from the machine.
So those are the main features that I tell beginner students to look for when buying a sewing machine. They are also applicable if buying a machine for a younger sewist as well. There are many machines on the market that have all of these features. One sewing machine that I highly recommend to beginner students is the Brother CS6000i. This machine has been on the market for several years and has good reviews. I have MANY students who have this cost effective machine (around $144 shipped) and they love it! It also comes with many accessories that can be expensive if purchased separately. Unfortunately you cannot find it in stores but it has free shipping on many websites including Amazon! I am a Amazon affiliate since I love this website and have had great customer service with their products. Use the link below to purchase the Brother Sewing Machine and I do earn a small affiliate fee.
If you would rather purchase from a local sewing dealer, I would highly recommend going to AAA Sewing Shoppe in Stallings. They are a Janome sewing machine dealer. I have a Janome DC3050 and it is my personal machine to sew on. It has all of the above features but is a little more expensive as it is a more heavier duty model (not an industrial machine, just more solid). They have other models though that you can look at and compare according to your needs.
As always, if you ever have any questions about purchasing a machine, please feel free to ask me!