When it comes to sewing machines I'll always recommend Sears (Kenmore) to beginners and even mid-level sewers. They're cheap, easy to use and they get the job done. The problem is that they aren't very reliable. This can be offset by purchasing the extended warranty. The Sears sewing machine warranty is the best in the biz because it's pretty much a "no questions asked" warranty. You simply bring the machine in when it gives you problems and they fix it - at least they try.
I brought one of my machines in three weeks ago. When I got it back it had two new problems and they didn't really fix the original problem, they sort of hid it. I don't want to get into all the problems. I just want to put it out there that my machine is back at the repair shop, but it's not really a big deal because they're fixing it (allegedly) for free.
If you buy a Sears or Kenmore sewing machine get the warranty.