Tuesday, August 29, 2017

DIY Longarm Machine Overhead Lighting, So I Don't Sew Through My Fingers!

Ta da!  Look what my handy husband made for me this weekend!

DIY Long Arm Lighting, Courtesy of Bernie
After I horrified Bernie with the tale of a quilter who was quilting in poor lighting and stitched THROUGH HER THUMBNAIL with her longarm machine, my darling husband decided to move this project up to the top of his Honey Do list.  I took this photo before dawn this morning, right after I shooed my teenagers out the door for school, and the picture does not do justice to how my new lights illuminate this whole end of the studio.

APQS does sell an overhead lighting system that I could have purchased for my Millenium machine, but it costs $795 (which my husband thought was outrageous) and I'm pretty sure it uses incandescent lightbulbs that run hot and give off a yellow cast.  I wanted white lights so I wouldn't have to color-correct all of my project photos, and either fluorescent or LED bulbs that don't radiate heat.

APQS Overhead Lighting System, $795
I'm not sure exactly how much money Bernie spent on my overhead lighting, but I'm guessing somewhere in the neighborhood of $50-100.  He used PVC piping and attached the light bar to the same universal mounting brackets that the APQS overhead lighting kit uses.  The wires for my lights are run inside the PVC pipes for a clean look.  Instead of the track lighting that the APQS version uses, Bernie used LED shop lights for mine, the kind that are marketed for a woodworking shop.  They flood the entire work surface of my 12' frame with even, bright light.  The individual track lights ARE kind of cool looking, but I don't know whether it's necessary to move them around and point them differently as you work on a quilt.  Once I get a quilt up on my frame I'll be better able to tell if these lights create any undesirable shadows or anything, but I would think the lighting needs of a woodworker would be very similar to the lighting needs of a machine quilter.

Of course, the interior designer in me was thinking of sleek wire track lighting that would mount to the sloped ceiling above my machine, eliminating the need for a light bar attached to the quilting frame:

Wire Track Lighting In This Kitchen.  Cool, Right?
But Bernie didn't want to mess with those because he's never installed them before and suspects they would be a major hassle, but more importantly, he's confident that they would be MUCH MORE EXPENSIVE than his PVC and shop lights solution.  And I conceded because I know he's right, and in this situation functionality is way more important than aesthetics.  

My Cutie, Installing the PVC Light Bar
So, according to my calculations, this weekend warrior project saved me approximately $700 that I can now spend on fabric!  (JUST KIDDING, Bernie!!)  Hah!

Have a great week, everyone.


Karen - Quilts...etc. said...

looks like it will work great and Bernie is looking great too - I assume he is totally back on his feet again after surgery? I love it when we save money that can be spent on other things.

Val's Creative Life said...

Fantastic!!! Yes, you need that white lighting.

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