For years I sewed on a cheap, bottom level Singer sewing machine, which I thought was a step up from my mother's old machine. Then I purchased a used Elna 8000 on Craigslist, and whoah, I had no idea the difference it makes to sew on a fine machine. I couldn't even sew with lycra or knits on the dinky Singer, but the Elna sews beautifully. The feed makes the difference. As simple as it is, one of my favorite features is that the needle returns to the high point when you stop a stitch, so you don't have to crank the wheel to pull the piece out to clip the threads. This saves an incredible amount of time an energy, which surprised me. The controls are fairly easy to understand, but with simpler machines you have a picture icon of the different stitches by the buttons (or the dial) and on the Elna you have to keep going back to the machine manual until you get things memorized. It is a wonderful machine, and I hope it lasts a long time because I love it.