I have fallen head-over-heels in love. The object of my desire is ….
The “Alto” – an intuitive sewing machine designed by Sarah Dickins, a student at Loughborough University in the UK that she entered for the James Dyson Award this year. This is an international student design competition running in 18 countries as part of the James Dyson Foundation’s mission to encourage emerging designers to “create, challenge, and invent.” The brief is to “Design something that solves a problem.”
Sarah Dickins objects to her generation’s careless relationship with clothing, which is more frequently tossed than mended, possibly in part, she thinks, because of the steep learning curve required to use traditional machines. She undertook interviews with beginners and their instructors which highlighted issues which are off-putting for the first-time user: “Beginners often get ‘lost’ whilst threading the machine and find coordinating the foot pedal and fabric movement difficult when controlling stitch speed. A lack of room for fabric on the right of the needle and poor visibility of the sewing area were also highlighted.”
Her solution was a product that not only demanded to be placed in full view (yes, it is so beautiful) but also simplified manipulation for novices.“Far from the iconic Singer machine which sits proudly displayed on the sideboard, the modern day sewing machine is more often consigned to the under-stairs cupboard,” she adds.
A metal guide that runs from reel to needle, for instance, makes threading unbelievably simple, while pressure sensors along the needle plate and in the rubber foot allow the beginner to control the machine’s speed in a manner that’s natural and intuitive. A flexible drive shaft replaces the traditional pulley system to create Alto’s distinctive arch, increasing room for fabric and improving workspace visibility.
Feedback from the Alto prototype’s trial run has been overwhelmingly positive. Volunteers described the experience as “very natural,” agreeing that “you automatically know how to use it.” (lucky volunteers). You can see more in the video above, and then I’m sure that you, like me, will be queuing up to purchase this elegant machine should it ever go into production.
Thanks again for sending me the link and sharing the love, Linda.