My mother had a sewing machine that she used to keep her children clothed with when we were young, and later, at the height of Carnaby Street fashion in the 60s, managed to get lucrative work from someone who'd found out she had it and knew how to use it to make garmnents to order for his boutique. I'd see her using it, but she'd go nuts if she saw any of her kids fiddling with it, so none of us were ever taught how to use it. Like my father, whose blacksmithing skills helped keep us fed and clothed by supplementing the income from his day job, my parents expected we'd do better than they did in life, when their education ended at 14, so never gave a second thought that we might benefit being taught what they'd had to learn to survive. I suspect another aspect of it was they never had the time to spare to be honest. Having to attend a boy's school in the 50s and 60s, obviously we didn't need to know anything about sewing. Boys had more important stuff to learn about back then. My sweetheart was fortunate enough to be sent to a posh school where time that other girls would have been taught how to sew and cook was replaced with learning ballet and how to play the piano, so her education as a seamstress, like mine, is limited to knowing that without their existence, she wouldn't get a new frock. Anyhow, several weeks ago, it might have been a couple of months now, she had this idea that she'd like to join the army of home hobbyists who have been making facemasks and mentioned it to a friend who said she had a sewing machine she could have to do it with. So the sewing machine turned up one day, but she doesn't know how to use it. I found the manual online and printed it off for her, but it's as clear as mud. So today, she collared me and asked if I could show her how to wind the bobbin. I managed to find out easily enough, thanks to youtube, also how to threadle the needle, but in doing so, I discovered that the machine she was given was the most basic one you can get and some parts are missing. So although it's possible it could be used to very limited extent with a bit of bodgery, I made the decision she would be better off if I bought her what she actually needs to get going. Where I'm coming from with this, is that if anyone said to me they wanted a lathe and asked my advice what to look out for, I could tell them what to look for, based on what it's intended use was for. I could tell them which lathes might be good enough to knock up a door handle, and the sort of lathe's they's need if they wanted to put a man on the moon. I could tell them which lathe I'd buy twice and those I wouldn't touch, but my knowledge of sewing machines is virtually non-existant insofar as which models are good and which are more trouble than they're worth. It wouldn't surprise me if she finds making face masks the start of a fascinating hobby that evolves into making wedding gowns for royalty, but neither would it surprise me if she became bored with sewing a month after she had too many facemasks to dispose of and wanted to persue a different hobby. So basically what I'm asking, is what do you need to know about sewing machines? Might you find a dream sewing machine could be found on Gumtree for a tenner after a seamstess died and those disposing of her possessions had no idea what it was worth or do I just stab a pin in what comes up on a website and hope it will be OK?