When I first started sewing, no one told me how important it was to have the "right" tools for the job. I was using my MIL's really old and really cheap brother sewing machine. It was such a pain to use - I would have random tension issues in the middle of every project and there was no variable speed - it was wide open every time I touched the foot pedal! Needless to say, I didn't sew much with it.
It wasn't until my aunt gave me her old Singer 6038 that I really began to fall in love with sewing. This wasn't a dream machine by any means (under $200 brand new and I never could sew a buttonhole with it), but it could sew beautiful seams. And more importantly, it would allow me to slow my speed as I sewed around curves. A love for sewing was born.
As I began to sew more, I realized there were a few things I really needed if I wanted to sew often:
1. A rotary cutter, mat, acrylic quilter's square and ruler - indispensable for quick and easy cutting of fabric. Get the largest mat you can afford, you'll use it. And get a good pair of scissors while your at it.
2. A great iron - I'm not talking about a $20 Walmart iron. You need a professional iron that will smooth through wrinkles like butter. There's nothing worse than spending 10 minutes pressing fabric only to realize those wrinkles aren't budging. I use a Rowenta D90 Professional Steam Iron, and I often wonder how I ever lived without it. It has cut my ironing time in half (happiness!).
3. The best sewing machine you can afford - this is where you really want to put the bulk of your sewing budget. If you don't love your machine, you won't love to sew. You can get a nice sewing machine for under $500. A small investment considering how long you'll be sewing with it. I've been extremely pleased with my Kenmore 19233 (which is actually made by Janome.) Do some research on Pattern Review, eBay and other sites with sewing machine reviews before you buy.
Let me introduce you to my happy place...
I could go on and on talking about sewing notions that make life easier. But this is a good place to start. These things have drastically improved my sewing experience.