Tag Archives: Easy solutions

I have clamps!

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.

The original clamp on the right. The chip clip (held by the original) on the left.

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.


I Always Wanted Longer Legs

I’m not very big. Okay, a lot of people would call me “short.” It doesn’t bother me, though there are disadvantages.

It’s hard to reach stuff up high without a stool, ladder, or help.
It’s hard to see over people in a crowd.
Long legs give a longer line, aesthetically considered attractive.
Long legs make long strides easier.
Small weight increases are large, proportionally for me.
It’s hard to buy clothes that fit without altering.

But there are advantages, too.
I’m not real impressed when other people are taller than I am, since most adults are.
I learned good table manners, since my arms are too short to make a “boarding house reach” very effective.

Mm… I can’t think of others.

I’ve gotten over the disappointment that I didn’t grow taller. Still, I always wanted longer legs.

And the other day, Jim made my legs longer.

Okay, they aren’t MY legs. They’re the legs of my cutting table. There are a lot of things we can do to make our work spaces a little more comfortable. I determined that a slightly higher cutting table would reduce the stress on my right shoulder. (Sharp rotary cutter blades make a big difference there, too. Don’t ignore that simple improvement.)

Years ago he bought PVC pipe and cut it into lengths to raise the surface of my table. It’s a plastic, folding banquet table, the kind you can buy at the big discount stores. The PVC pipe pieces are longer than the table legs, so when slipped over each leg, they raise it up. (Some people use bed risers to raise their tables, too.)

To make the table even higher, he bought another 12″ of PVC and cut it into 4 pieces. With a piece added on each leg, the table is 3″ higher than it was before the alteration.

The additional 3″ piece of pipe.

The pipe pieces are longer than the table’s original legs, and they support the crossbars, raising the surface.

I love my long legs!