Are you still struggling to quilt big quilts on your machine? Is the bulk and weight of the quilt really getting you down?
It's time to start thinking vertically with our quilting setup! This is a suspended quilting setup that is lifting the bulk of the quilt up off my tables so I no longer have to fight the drag of the big quilt. I set this up yesterday because quilting Emergence was proving extremely difficult as more areas were filled.
I'm not sure whether it's the dense quilting that makes the quilt surface stiff, or it's the weight, or maybe both, but moving and shifting this large quilt smoothly was becoming a challenge. Then I remembered a photo I saw on Caryl Bryer Fallert's facebook page and decided it was time to build my quilting setup UP.
While it looks really complex, it's actually not. I installed this hanging system in about 30 minutes and it only cost around $25.
Here's how to do it yourself:
- 3-5 metal handles - These have to be the heavy duty, aluminum sort that come with thick screws to install from the front. I started with 3, but will probably pick up 2 more to install more handles to the left side of the machine.
- Bungee cords - You'll only need about 5-7 of these, but it really helps to have an assortment or to pick up the kind that adjust. The key is making sure they're long enough - at least 24" - 36" or longer because you can always adjust or tie them to make them shorter, but you can't make them longer.
- Clamps - There are many different types of clamps, but I already like the kind that squeeze to open and have rubber pads on the ends. Whatever you use, make sure it won't damage your quilt and will be easy for you to open and reposition whenever you like. The more complicated, expensive kind are not really the best suited as they take more time to reposition.
1. Move everything away from your tables - Do not leave your sewing machine in place as you will create a lot of dust and dirt drilling into the ceiling. Move your quilts, thread, machine, and any tools away from this area for the time being.
2. Find a stud in your ceiling - I do have a stud finder, but find it often glitches out on my ceilings so I just drilled very small holes until I found the areas where the wood beam ran across the ceiling. Place a handle over the stud and mark the location for the holes, then drill the holes, and screw the handles in place.
If you can, try to locate these handles around 12 - 24 inches BEHIND your machine. You might also want to install a few around 16 - 24" to the left of the machine to pick up that side of the quilt as well.
3. Modify the clamps - All of the clamps I picked up had small holes in the handles. I used a 3/8" bit and drilled through this hole carefully to widen it. Make sure the wider hole will fit over the hook on the bungee cord.
4. Hang up the bungee cords and clamps. Adjust and readjust until you find a system that works. It's hard to say exactly where the clamps should be because I think this is a system that will be different for everyone. Just make sure your clamps aren't too close to the table top or they won't lift the quilt up enough to make a difference.
5. Go quilt a king sized quilt with your awesome new hanging quilting system!
After shooting this last photo, I sat down and quilted 2 more rings into the sinkhole section. It was AMAZING! No drag, no fighting, no pulling, no pushing. This is the way quilting is meant to be on a domestic - easy!
I am still using a Queen Supreme Slider on the machine because the area I'm quilting around the needle is still flat to the tabletop and still needs to slide easily. I'd say the combination of the hanging system to get the bulk of the quilt off the table, plus the slider to make the quilting area move evenly and easily is the best combination.
Keep in mind that this setup will work great even if you don't quilt densely like I do. If you're quilting a bed quilt in this manner, you will likely have to adjust the clamps often, probably around every 12" or so, but once you get used to it, it's really not difficult.
So now there is absolutely, positively no excuse not to quilt all those full, queen, and king sized tops in your closet! You really can do this easily on a domestic sewing machine so long as you take the time to look at your setup and be willing to make continual improvements on the way it works.
Let's go quilt!