A STITCH IN TIME

An international student design competition running in 18 countries, the James Dyson Award is part of the James Dyson Foundation’s mission to encourage emerging designers to “create, challenge, and invent.” Its brief: Design something that solves a problem.

Dickins took issue with her generation’s careless relationship with clothing, which is more frequently tossed than mended.

Dickins, for her part, takes issue with her generation’s careless relationship with clothing, which is more frequently tossed than mended. Most conventional sewing machines, however, have a steep learning curve.

“Observations and interviews with beginners and their instructors highlighted issues which are off-putting for the first-time user,” she says. “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 but also simplified manipulation for novices.

But even sewing veterans may be loathe to haul out their machines for re-hemming or other small repairs. “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,” Dickins adds.

Her solution is a product that not only demands to be placed in full view but also simplifies manipulation for novices. A metal guide that runs from reel to needle, for instance, makes threading a cinch, 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.”

+ Alto

+ James Dyson Award

[Via Yanko Design]