The Maker (age 8 ) got a sewing machine for Christmas, and it's been a hit. I'll be curious to see what kind of staying power it has, but for now he, and his mom and brothers, is/are enjoying it. Here's a picture of a felt pouch he made after playing with if for about an hour (he later added a velcro closure).
The brand we got him is a Brother LS-2125i, which I found at Walmart for $69. It's marketed as a kind of beginner level sewing machine, but it has a pretty impressive set of features. We considered getting him a less expensive "toy" sewing machine, but decided a real one would probably be more useful. We hoped it wouldn't be too complicated for him and it wasn't. The initial setup (getting the thread put on, figuring out the whole bobbin thing) took about an hour with mom's help, but once that was done he was off and running. His older brothers even declared sewing cool, and The First (age 13) insisted that the Maker show him how to do it.
I'm hoping the Maker will be able to fix rips in several pairs of his pants, and maybe sew some patches on a few others. I'm thinking this new sewing machine might come in pretty handy.