We got special delivery to the studio in April: the Viking Opal 690Q! This fun little machine arrived on our doorstep and we got a chance to put it to the test. Let’s take a look at some of the features to love about it!
As a Viking Ambassador, I am sometimes sent product to try so that I can get more familiar with the line. Last year it was the EPIC (awesome machine, BTW) but this year, I asked Viking what would be a good machine to have set up in a classroom for new quilters. They answered with the Opal 690Q!
I did an unboxing video the day they arrived, and if you missed it, you can watch the video here:
One of the first things I noticed when pulling the Opal out of the box is that it’s ready to sew right away. It comes pre-threaded with a sample spool of thread and a wound bobbin. We stitched about 12 friendship blocks before we had to replace the spool, so you can have fun sewing for a bit before you have to think about threading. More on that in a bit.
When you take the machine out of the box, you’ll notice the foot is down on top of an inspection card. This machine has an auto presser foot lift, so you can only lift this up by plugging in the machine and turning it on.
It’s such a cute machine, and comes with a hard travel case. It’s absolutely perfect for the classroom and I wouldn’t mind taking this with me on a retreat. The harp is a generous 8″ and can stitch up to a 7mm wide stitch.
It comes with a ton of accessories that fit into the free arm storage unit. There’s a top tray for smaller items, and you can lift up the tray to store the larger items. You get a total of 10 feet (including a 1/4″ foot and the one-step buttonhole), 6 bobbins, screwdriver, pack of 5 Inspira needles, seam ripper, brush, spool caps and felt, quilting guide, a tool to help with thick seams, and a stylus.
That’s right, a stylus. The Opal has a touch screen!
Here’s a tip: when you store your feet, you can put feet A, B, D, J, and the open toe foot on the left side. A couple of the other feet have special slots and will only fit on the right side of the tray.
Foot E (zipper foot) is wide and has a wide slot on the far right. You’ll also want Foot C (buttonhole foot) on the right next to Foot E. It has a longer guide on the left of the foot that needs a deeper slot to fit in.
The Opal has several useful features on the front, including a start/stop button (so you can sew without the foot pedal) an auto-fix button (I disable this for quilting because I chain piece and don’t want the threads locked at the beginning of seams), and something I did not expect in a machine of this size: a thread cutter!
Seriously, the thread cutter changed my sewing experience, and going to machines without it now is really hard. It’s little touches like this that make me love Viking machines.
You can also choose to speed up or slow down the machine, and set the needle to stop in the up or down position. Another pleasant surprise? When you stop with the needle down, the presser foot lifts slightly to allow you to pivot or reposition the fabric. I love this especially for chain piecing and stitching curves, as it allows for those minor adjustments to add a new unit or navigate a curve. If you don’t like this feature, you can turn it off, but I personally never do.
There’s a handy slot on the side of the Opal to store the stylus for the touch screen. It’s shaped like a needle! Since these are in our studio, I’m probably going to run a ribbon through the eye and attach it somewhere so they don’t get lost.
The Opal has 208 decorative and utility stitches spread across four menus, plus 4 built-in fonts you can use for monogramming.
Accessing the different stitches is really easy on the touch screen; I didn’t even have to read the manual to figure out how to change the stitch. You can also store up to 14 favorite stitches (that’s the heart tab) so you can quickly access functions you use all the time.
The Opal also has the Sewing Advisor built in, which is pretty powerful for a machine like this. If you tell it what type of fabric you’re using and the sewing you’re doing, it will set the best tension, stitch length, and speed for sewing on that type of material. As a quilter, I rarely change from sewing on medium wovens, but for folks who do all kinds of sewing, it’s nice to know that this machine can handle it.
One of my favorite features has to be the fact that you can wind a bobbin from the needle. You don’t have to unthread the machine to wind a bobbin; just position the thread under the presser foot (make sure you’re using a metal foot for this!), pull it up through the front guide, wind it clockwise a few times around the bobbin, and push the bobbin to the right to engage the winder. So simple!
We couldn’t wait to try out the machines, so we invited folks to the studio to give them a go. We chose to make friendship blocks, and sat everyone down with pre-cut units to stitch out this block.
Here’s one happy student with her finished block!
We even initiated a new quilter into the family. He hadn’t used a sewing machine before, but we got him making blocks with just a bit of help from my assistant Sarah.
Overall, I’m pretty happy with the Opal 690Q, and I think my students love them too. It’s packed with features that I didn’t expect to see, and I love that it has some of the same benefits that I enjoy on my more powerful machines. My EPIC is just too valuable to drag off everywhere, so it’s nice to have another machine to use that I know will have everything I need for quilting. What’s your favorite machine to take on retreat or use in a class? What feature can you not do without?