So have you all helped me make a decision? Er, not really! I am still swithering between new machine or serger and hope that I will eventually be getting both but am only planning to get one in the immediate future. I have also decided which ones I would like:
For the sewing machine, a Janome 525s:
I phoned my sewing machine repairman for advice and he recommended a Janome as being a good quality and reliable machine. As someone who knows a quality machine, he often buys machines for schools and recommends the Janome 521 or the 525S. This second one would be my choice. I'm reluctant to get a computerised machine as I just feel that there is more to go wrong - and I'm saying this as someone whose car has sailed through its MOT 2 years in a row with nothing needing done because it is a great basic car (who needs central locking?!). I like to keep it simple.
I suppose the recommended approach to buying a machine is to try a few brands and models but this is hard these days as I think there are far fewer shops specialising in sewing machines - I don't think there are any in Glasgow (though please correct me if I'm wrong!).
Personally I find too much choice overwhelming and generally counter-productive, and I prefer to get a recommendation from someone I trust - like my repair man. He can also get the machine for me, matching any internet price, and if it needs any servicing done he can pick it up from my house. Ideal.
Serger wise, I'd go for the ubiquitous Brother 1034D. This model seems to be very popular amongst sewing bloggers but isn't too pricey, as sergers go. And I've got a strong recommendation from people I trust - all of you!
The problem with a serger is that it's another machine to add to my sewing space in the living room and my already hobby-tolerant husband has to put up with all my knitting and sewing stuff all over the place. As you know, that stuff grows arms and legs and as much as I would like a serger (and a dressmaker's dummy - one day!) I wonder if I should wait until I have a dedicated space for sewing (again - one day...) or at least wait for a while. And I have to admit that I am still a little intimidated by the thought of a serger, maybe I should just get a good sewing machine I am really comfortable with sewing jersey on, and then treat myself to a serger later on if I want to take things a step further?
Or then again, will a serger REALLY take up a lot more space? It sounds like the easiness it could bring would be well worth it. Perhaps I should just go for it and buy one.
So thank you again for your input and for reading this latest brain ramble. I'll be sure to keep you updated about what I eventually decide!