My mother-in-law borrowed my sewing machine, so I am using our Janome Hello Kitty 11706 machine (bought long ago on clearance for $50; they are still available new for $110 and up). It is a good beginner machine but not a robust one, so I am saving my heavy-duty sewing projects for later. The other things that I miss on it are a center lever for lifting the presser foot (it's on the right, and I'm left-handed), and more control over stitch width and length (which are limited to three choices). EDITED TO ADD: Access to the mechanism is limited, so the machine is almost impossible to oil at all the necessary points; the instructions don't even mention oiling. This greatly reduces the potential longevity of the machine; sewing machines need regular oiling (usually just a single drop of oil at any point where moving parts meet).
I finished a long dress that I created a pattern from scratch for, with princess seams and a three-quarters (knee-length) lining. I used a free piece of bordered fabric, and had just enough to complete it. It turned out well, except perhaps for the neckline; I need to review how to make those properly. It is high enough that I could go back and redo it later.
Also I am working on making a lighter cape, out of rummage sale corduroy. This fabric was originally black, but I bleached it to a medium brown. The color came out slightly mottled, but this just makes the fabric look more plush. For a pattern I have been referring to my pattern making reference book. Capes are fairly simple; the hard part is fitting the shoulders. Yet again, I have had to be a bit creative to eke out an entire garment from the piece of fabric that I have to work with.
I got bored with making the clothesline basket, and decided to do something different for the sides: sew two pieces of cloth together in lines to make channels for the rope to run through. For precision, I did the sewing first, instead of placing the rope and sewing beside it. I had a miserably hard time threading the rope through later, though, until I switched to starting with a piece of twine (with a closed safety pin attached to its end, to lead the way), and then used the twine to pull the rope through. Then it was only miserable when the twine came loose from the rope. Now I have my fabric with the rope running back and forth inside it, and I need to join the rope loops at the sides and attach the basket bottom.