This is a great thread!
I'm a bro, and I sew. There, I said it.
Some of you know this already, but I sew mostly Star Wars costumes, specifically Fett-related items, but I've also done Jedi costumes, biker and snow scout soft parts, small commissions, and some medieval/Renaissance-era tunics.
My first sewing machine was an old, 60's era, hand-me-down metal beater from Montgomery Ward. I didn't have a clue as to how to use it, so it was mostly trial and error. I wound the thread onto the bobbin with a pencil.
After a few months of frustration, I bought a Kenmore machine from Sears, and it came with an instruction booklet! Suddenly all those little gadgets and whatsits on the machine made sense! I was off and running.
These days, I still do a little sewing, but as I get older, my eyesight is getting worse, and I have to wear reading glasses to thread needles and such. But I'm still using the same Kenmore machine I bought in 1998.
I've been thinking about getting a serger...