Have you experienced this???????

Aching back??? Aching/sore shoulders???? Hands, arms or wrists that are telling you “enough already”?? Well, after a day of quilting on either my Juki-DSM (domestic sewing machine) or, even, Ms Sweetie (HQ Sweet 16) I most definitely have! My ‘normal’ quilting schedule is from 9:30 in the morning, 1/2 hour break for lunch and back at it ‘til 4:00 pm. I love it but my ‘bod’ doesn’t always….especially if the quilt is one of the larger ones. Well, while there are many suggestions to help with the above, I haven’t really found that setting up additional tables, supports, silicone sprays for the table tops,  etc, etc, etc have alleviated the “heart” of the problem……..and that is the weight of the quilt sandwich that must be moved around as the stitching is done. The solution: some type of overhead “lifting” apparatus that will take the weight of the quilt not being stitched off of the table allowing the quilter to only move the fabric needed to accomplish the motif in the specified area. I present 3 solutions that I’ve come across in the past several years. The last one is the one that I have come up with for me, given my surroundings. The first one I saw on Leah Day’s site in 2011. The post can be found here. This image is from her post:

As you can see, she uses bungees w/ clamps that are attached to handles secured to the ceiling. A great idea but one that wouldn’t work for me……….I have a suspended ceiling that wouldn’t tolerate that kind of weight!!

On to the 2nd idea. This one was recently posted on Rhonda Bracey’s blog “At Random” in answer to a question brought up on a Yahoo forum. Again, a photo from her post:



Once again, a great solution but one that wouldn’t work for me as my table must remain up against the wall that it’s on and snugly in the corner. Simply put……I have very little room to work with.

#3……the method that works for me!!!!!! Above my machine is a shelf (one that I purchased at a home improvement store) that holds books, manuals, etc, measuring 48” wide by 12” deep. Using some small spring clamps, I clamped the quilt, where needed, to the edge of the shelf……..and it worked beautifully!!!! A photo is worth a thousand words!………………………………….Kathy's quilt & '3rd hands' 001

A bit odd looking but no more heavy drag to reposition the quilt in order to smoothly, and without resistance, stitch!!!!! No…..it’s definitely not “rocket science” but, for those who love to quilt on their DSM/’fixed’ mid-arm, it totally eliminates some of the physical challenges that may be present.Kathy's quilt & '3rd hands' 004

For those of you reading this who are “long-armers” this discussion/solution may appear a tad humorous but, believe me, it really makes a difference (and, yes, it does look funny!!!!!). Anyhow, I have solved the problem without a trip to any store or any further expense……..yay!!!!!!Kathy's quilt & '3rd hands' 005

So, I’m off to do some quilting…………………………………

About treadlemusic

A quilter who rides motorcycle, living on a small hobby farm in southeastern Minnesota. Grandmother and Great Grandmother.
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25 Responses to Have you experienced this???????

  1. Michele says:

    Yeah for you finding a solution that works and I don’t think it is a silly discussion at all. That is what it is all about, sharing with each other.

  2. witchylin says:

    What a brilliant idea, Doreen. Simple and effective. 🙂

  3. Thread crazy says:

    I’ll have to agree with Melanie; quilting is not for the faint of heart! From start to finish of a quilt, our muscles get a thorough workout. My area is setup somewhat like yours; while I have a cabinet on both sides of my “sweetie” to help with the load, I like what you’ve done there in your room. So I may have to try that also and see if it helps with the fatigue factor. Instead of quilting, I’m in the middle of piecing two additional quilts…hopefully soon I can quilt!

    • treadlemusic says:

      At the risk of repeating myself too many times……….I really didn’t realize how much “drag” I was dealing with until I removed that factor (at least 99% of it!). Also, I was positioning additional tables to my immediate left and right to keep the fabric from sliding off the edge of the extensions. The overhead clamping takes care of this, also, so I put those tables away which takes away more of the “clutter” surrounding the machine area. I have another quilt to do this week and one waiting “in the wings” so I will have opportunity to test this further right away. I will be posting my findings!!!!!! I’m sure whatever you come up with will be very helpful for you. Hugs…………………..

  4. Great idea!!!
    I saw something similar on youtube last week. A lady had a set of tubes that for a frame from which the clamps were hanging. I may need to rig something similar hanging from the ceiling as my table faces the windows. I’ll ask my brother the ingenier for help.

  5. ruthiequilts says:

    I love seeing how you’ve done this with all of your machines! Brilliant! I have to rig something up for my space, but it’s in the family room with vaulted ceilings. I like Rhonda Bracey’s contraption and may have to try something similar… I love the picture of you!!!! XOXO my quilty friend!

    • treadlemusic says:

      LOL! Thank you for the nice words!!! DH came in to see what I was “up to” and grabbed the camera! Rhonda’s garment/hanging rack is a great idea but I don’t even have the inches for that and I already had the shelf…….my little brain wheels were in motion as I quilted and …… wha….la……….

  6. That is incredibly smart – I love it!!!!!!!!!! I’m thinking the ceiling for me…….. Not today’s project, though I am happy to say I am playing with fabric, and will post a pic in a day to two. And, I’m getting ready to do another board basting thing as soon as I feel like driving the 15 miles to a friend’s house who has an empty table top I can use. “Wouldn’t it be easier to clean off your table?” you ask………….. hmmmmmmmmmm

    Smiles……………….. Enjoy your day 🙂

  7. Genius. Not being a quilter, I wouldn’t have thought about these issues. So glad you worked it out, thus alleviating some of those stressors on your body.

    • treadlemusic says:

      Sigh……and to think I first saw this solution back in ’11!! Sometimes it takes me a while to get to the “outside the box” kind of view!!!! LOL!!!!!

  8. Jackie says:

    You are just full to the brim of creativity! Doesnt matter how it “looks”, it how it works for you that matters. 🙂

    • treadlemusic says:

      Yup!!!!! And I didn’t have to “punch” more holes in the sheet rock to accomplish it!!!! Score!!!!!! Happy weekend!!!!! Blessings…………………………

  9. Barb N says:

    Great solution! I’m a longarmer, and a lot of the reason I made that move was to avoid many of the problems described by Melanie above, lol. You definitely need to find the easiest way to get those quilts done – after we, we only have one body and need to treat it right! Thanks for sharing.

    • treadlemusic says:

      I’m glad you found this to be an interesting solution. I’m sure there are others who would do FMQ on their DSM if the hassle/weight of the sandwich wasn’t such a burden. “Thinking outside the box” and beyond the obvious often leads to simple solutions to such issues. Glad you stopped by and thanks so much for your input!!! Hugs………………………

    • Yep, exactly. I longarm for same reason. I can do a lot, but there are limits!

  10. Jeanne says:

    I often use an extra table behind the machine but I’ve always thought there were better solutions. I’ve seen Leah Day’s solution but it won’t work for me. Between your way and Rhonda’s, I have ideas!!! Thanks!

    • treadlemusic says:

      Oh, I do hope this gets you thinking of something that would work in your particular sewing room/area cuz removing the “weight issue” is amazing!!!! When you figure something out and it works you will be blown away with how much more the stitching becomes smooth and stress free!!!! Happy weekend!!!!! Hugs………………………

  11. Awesome! I am a fan of whatever works. This looks like it would help enormously. Some people would be surprised at how much physical effort can go into making a quilt. Just start with washing new fabric — pull a yard or two out of the dryer and fold… ARMS UP!! Then pressing, cutting, etc. A lot of arm and shoulder mobility/strength needed for those. As the top gets bigger, more fabric to move around. If you use your floor to lay things out, as I do, there’s a lot of crawling and leaning over awkwardly. And you’re not done when it’s quilted. For me, binding by hand can be painful, leaving knots and kinks that can give me migraines. Contrary to image, it’s really not for weaklings, is it? (And fortunately, there are ways we can still include those with some physical limitations.)

    Great solution. A+ for you today!

    • treadlemusic says:

      Thanks so much, Mel!!!! It was an “eye opener” for me, also. I did not realize how much I wrestled with the ‘sandwich’ to keep it on the table and positioned so I could stitch w/o undue ‘drag’ or pull. The next quilt is waiting in the wings and is a good sized one, too. Can’t wait to see if this solution works as well!!!!!
      Have a great weekend!!!!! Hugs……………….

  12. Hey Lady:

    In this world no one asks you how you did it, they ask Did You Do It!

    Looks are not everything, function is every thing.

    Good job on post and keep sewing!

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