My 18 year old wants a sewing machine for Christmas. I know absolutely nothing about them, and almost failed home ec after repeatedly messing up the machines in class(and my sewing projects were horribly ugly). I sew by hand what little I sew. What do I look for? She wants to make clothes so it will be used for real, not just playing around. I would like to get Singer, just bc I know that brand and that's what the old ladies all use. Unless there are better ones now? I need to stay at/below about $200 if possible.
good basic sewing machine
http://www.bernina.com/en-US/Products-us/bernette-us/bernette-product-overview-us/bernette-sewing-and-embroidery-machines-us/bernette-Seville-1 It's $249 MSRP, so higher than what you posted, but I have an older Bernette, different model, and love it -- very solid workhorse and a pleasure to work with.
This http://www.bernina.com/en-US/Products-us/bernette-us/bernette-product-overview-us is the rest of that product line, but I think the prices and complexity just go up.
(BTW I had home ec in the 1970's. There *are* no projects that weren't horribly ugly!)