Wednesday, January 20, 2010

New Handles for the HQ

I have a HandiQuilter quilting frame that I use with a Brother sewing machine to do machine quilting. I also have a set of HandiHandles that allow me to start and stop the machine (instead of using a presser foot).

But the handles mount on the back side of the carriage...near the machine's flywheel, as opposed to being on the needle end of the machine. When following a pantograph to quilt this is fine, but if doing free-motion quilting where one needs to see where one is going, this is not the best set up.

So I decided to make a new set of handles to mount on my carriage, to allow me to stand on the needle side of the machine while working.

I found some pictures of handles that others had made in the Files section of the HandiQuilters (Yahoo) chat list, but there were no instructions included. So I bought some PVC pipe and connectors and made it up as I went along!

Once I got the handles made and temporarily installed, I could see that there was just too much 'play' in the handles...too much bounce.

To correct for this, I decided to modify!

I went back to the store again for one more 'T' connector, plus some rubber chair tips...the kind you put on the feet of your folding metal chairs so they won't scratch your handwood floors.

I cut the cross-piece on the front/top
area of the new handles and inserted the additional 'T' connector. Into the bottom (stem) of this 'T', I slipped a short segment of pvc pipe with a rubber chair tip forced onto it...this will rest on the top of the machine to provide stability to the handles during use.

This worked great!

Nothing is screwed to the machine itself, but the rubber sort of grips a bit and helps to keep the handles stable.

While my pvc welding skills are adequate for sprinkler and plumbing work, they are not pretty! The purple primer gets everywhere, sometimes dripping and running on the pipes. I didn't want to have UGLY handles! So I decide to paint them!

The weather here in Tennessee is not really warm enough for outdoor painting this time of year, but I did it anyway. The paint dried in a few hours, but the handles are taking forever to lose that 'just painted' smell!

Now it was time to attach the HandiHandles to the new handles. The screws that came with them were not long enough to penetrate the 3/4" pvc pipe, so I bought new screws (8-32 2") and replaced the 1" long screws with 2".

This is after replacing one screw.

New issue: the wire that plugs these handles into the machine was now too short to reach from this new (front) location all the way around to the backside of the machine. Electrical work is not my forte, so DH took care of that issue for me, splicing in some wire to lengthen the cord.

Here is an over-head shot of the HandiHandles mounted on the new handles.

Because I didn't want wires running all over the place, I went to the office supply store and purchased some black velcro bundling straps. I was able to get by with using only 3 of these because they are long enough to cut in half!

Here are my new handles, mounted and ready to use!

This is the end where I will be standing. I have a better view of the needle now, although you can't tell it by this picture!

Don't the new handles look cool? Like a long-horn...

This is the backside, where the handles 'plug' into the machine. I stood on this end of the machine before making these new handles...the HandiHandles were mounted to the clear plastic carriage under the machine at this end. Oh btw, the new black pipe handles are mounted to the carriage using a couple of those same 8-32 2" screws...we just drilled through the el connectors and into the carriage, then added a washer, lock washer and nut.

That is my sewing room that you see beyond the door ahead.

Yeah, I leaders are maroon! Who makes maroon leaders? But I had the fabric and I didn't want to cut the long muslin ones that came with the HandiQuilter. See? it is not set up to its full length! When doing smaller quilts, I set up with fewer sections in the poles, so need shorter leaders. But when I want to do a large quilt, I still have the long leaders (made of muslin).

This is the little rubber bumber that sits on top of the machine to provide stability...the chair tip on a pipe section! Ok, it is low-tech, I'll give you that...but it worked and was quick and easy.

Perhaps using 1" pipe instead of 3/4" would have made for a more stable handle system. But I suspect that even that would need the extra support. My design isn't perfect, but I am ready to try it out!

1 comment:

Sew4Fun said...

You are ingenious! A woman of all trades. :)

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