My heart is filled with yearning …….

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.


Isn’t it simply stunning?! I agree!!! I want the Alto, NOW! I just love it and would love to try free-motion embroidery or FM quilting on this beautiful machine. What a pleasure it would be to allow attention to focus on just my hands and have lots of space for those bulky quilts! Although I have a machine with many bells and whistles, sometimes simpler is better! Sarah Dickins is indeed very clever, and I hope one day soon to see the Alto available for purchase! Thanks for sharing with everyone!

X Linda


Wow! That is really an interesting machine. I would love to have one for my everyday sewing. Don’t really need all the bells and whistles.


it would be so light and easy to take to quilting class….I would love to have an “Alto”


What an awesome machine! I can definitely see a use for one in my own home. First, during storms when I refuse to have my machine plugged in, I could still sew if I wanted. I love the speed ‘adjustment’. How smart although I’m wondering how ‘touchy’ that would be and if it would be possible to use it to quilt a heavy quilt. Would the weight of the quilt put too much pressure onto that base? Hmmmmm

It will be interesting to see if any of the major companies buy her design of this machine and mass produce it for all of us who are now drooling over this machine. It really is an awesome looking machine.


The sleek design makes it beautiful to look at. I’d definitely love to try it. Controlling the movement by pressing on the left hand side might take some getting used to, but I am certainly willing to try.


I shared this machine information with my father (he is quite mechanically inclined and works in I.T etc) and he did some research online for me and it is a very lightweight style machine, not good for much beyond quick mending and extra lightweight projects. There is no pedal, you just push the football shaped part of the base below the needle to make it run. Using it for quilting will likely be a no-go. Personally, since I can do both light and heavyweight projects with my Singer Featherweight, I will be sticking to that. 🙂 Just thought i’d share. 🙂


Wow!! Very eye-pleasing, but probably not very practical for quilting or sewing with heavy fabrics.


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