Ooohhhh, MissMom – what a shame you don’t use your D1 features! I love mine, and even though there’s another top of the line machine now in the HV lineup, when I needed a second machine, I got another D1. Totally spoiled by mine! I’ve had businesses from bridal gowns to craft to Irish stepdancing solo costumes, and the D1 is the best one I’ve used.
No, you can’t use the coupon from Joann unless it says specifically that you can – the sewing machine “departments” in Joann stores are leasers and not actually part of the store chain.
All of the machines (especially the top of the lines) are going to be fairly good machines. The question is which one works for you, because they all have different ways of interfacing with the user. You’ll connect with some of them, and others will boggle you totally, so sit down at the machines and try them out to get an idea of what works for you.
For sewing things like bags and purses, you actually need a good strong motor, something that will power through multiple layers of heavy fabrics and stronger than a machine that’s just meant for dressmaking repairs and occasional use (such as the White machines). $250 isn’t going to get you much of a new machine, as mentioned upthread, although it can buy a good basic machine for repairs and light sewing. If you have a good used sewing machine store around, that’ll help a great deal, as will having a good relationship with a good sewing machine repairman. Look for metal machine innards, not plastic. A physically heavy machine will sometimes indicate a good heavy-duty machine, but not always.
My advice is to go round to the sewing dealerships and sit down at the different kinds of machines (from bottom of the line basic to top of the line fancies) and try them all out so you know what you’re looking at. Educate yourself first, THEN buy in your price range that will do what you want. If you don’t like how you’re treated at a dealership, leave and go to the next one, because when you buy a new machine, you want to know that you’ll be able to get repairs, advice, classes, and resources from the dealership, not attitude.
Even with a used machine, you want to know that they’ll be helping you out, so buy from people you want to deal with. A good dealership (and I used to work at one) knows that a happy customer is a repeat customer and treats you in such a way as to make you happy.