No. NOT cramps. CLAMPS!
My long-arm quilting system consists of the machine and frame. When a quilt is loaded on the frame, the layers are stretched between the take-up roller at the back and the “belly” bar at the front. Those provide even tension at the back and front of the frame. However, to get a smooth quilting surface, I also need to apply tension on the sides.
The system came with two clamps per side, and they have quite a grip! The mouth of each is about 1″ across and coated with orange vinyl, giving a smooth texture that doesn’t snag.
I wondered, though, if I’d have better results with wider-mouthed clamps. A wider mouth would distribute the tension more smoothly.
There a few clamping systems out there. One that seemed simple is similar in nature to what I have, but with a broader grip. The Grip-Lite brand has a 6″ mouth. It’s sold in-house by my long-arm dealer, as well as at retailers. It’s also $27 per pair (and can be found elsewhere for somewhat less.) That’s $54 for 4, which is the number I would need.
It’s no secret: I am frugal. If I can pay less for something, I’m glad to do so. I looked around, looked at other methods and tools. I looked at the hardware store and the office supply store.
Ultimately, I bought chip clips. You read that right. Chip clips. They have a 6″ mouth and cost $4. For 4 of them. Yep, that’s it. A dollar each.
As far as I can tell, the Grip-Lite’s main advantage over this is there is no more need for the original clamps, as they come with their own Velcro strap. Other than that, they’re the same.
So why pay $50 more? I didn’t. I won’t.
I have clamps, which distribute the layer tension better than I had before. And they cost me $4.
What great, cheap solutions have you found to some of our quilting problems? I’d love to hear your stories.