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 Quilting Studio said...

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

Sew Happy said...

I love your overhead light rack. That is exactly what I am wanting to build but have no idea where to start. Would you be willing to share instructions for how to build it and what supplies are needed?

Rebecca Grace said...

Sew Happy: I wasn't able to reply to you directly because your Blogger settings have you as No Reply option for your comments. Thank you!

I can't really give you instructions because I'm not the one who built it. My husband is good at figuring out how to do things like this, but not so good at explaining how he did it. I can tell you that in this post, the rack is made from PVC pipe that we got at Home Depot or Lowe's and it's attached similar to the way the APQS light rack mounts onto the frame. Over time, the PVC pipes began to sag in the center of the frame, so we replaced the PVC pipe with some kind of metal pipe, also from Home Depot/Lowe's, and painted the metal pipe to match the frame. You can attach any kind of shop lights you want to the frame, any way that works. We got my lights from Harbor Freight. Hope that helps!

Cheryl said...

I am installing lighting over my long arm tomorrow. I purchased a pack of 4 LED 4-foot lights for $40 (black housing)-$50(white housing) on Amazon. They weigh OUNCES and can be daisy chained. The lights come with wall anchors, hooks and 8" chains (or a small bracket for attachment). If I ever take them down, there will be two small holes in the ceiling per light to repair. I can always add chain extensions if I need the lights closer to the work surface.
[Amazon: 4 Pack 4FT Linkable LED Shop Light, Utility Shop Light Fixture, 4400lm, 42W [250W Equivalent], 5000K Daylight White Shop Lights for Garage,Hanging or Surface Mount, W/ Power Cord, ETL]

Rebecca Grace said...

Hi, Cheryl! The blog post you were commenting on is from 5 years ago -- I have totally different lighting above my long arm now that I like much better. You can see it in this newer post: https://www.rebeccagracequilting.com/2021/06/studio-tour-let-there-be-light-and-also.html.