Machines we recommend--click on the links to view on Amazon. 

Brother XM2701--Basic, entry level machine at a reasonable price
Singer Heavy Duty 4452-Sews through heavy materials such as denim, leather, canvas.   High-speed machine for more experienced sewers
Brother SE400--electronic embroidery plus machine, push button controls, top rated seller on Amazon

Our favorite sewing supplies

Marking tools

Tailor's chalk--for transferring markings from patterns to fabric
Chalk wheel dispenser--refillable powdered chalk marker is great for making fine lines
Mark-B-Gone pen--disappears with water for marking light-colored fabrics