Sunday, August 24, 2014

On seeing the light

Light. Lately, it seems, I either have too little or too much!

This is the year I've decided to make a serious effort to improve my free motion quilting skills, and I thought I'd show you two products that I'm finding really helpful.

First is an Ecolux LED light strip. Some of my quilting friends have been using these for a while now to boost their machine's lighting, but I needed time to justify the outlay to my inner Scrooge.

You could never call me an early adopter LOL. 

I finally bought my 6 light strip from Sewing Buddies at last month's Sydney Quilt Show, and I love it.

Look at the difference it's made to my Bernina 1230! 

On the left you can see light provided by the Bernina's own built-in lighting, and on the right the difference this little strip of lights makes, installed under the throat of the machine, a nice white light shining vertically on my work.

But wait, there's more! 

For those times when I need to shed even more light on the situation I have this nifty little LED folding lamp, another great purchase from last month's Sydney Quilt Show.

In the pic below, the third view is how my workspace looks with all three light sources applied. I love how, with this neat little USB rechargeable LED lamp strategically positioned I have virtually no shadows cast on my work, which has got to be a plus. 

It's cordless and folds into a really flat little unit for taking to classes or stitch-and-sew sessions.

Ah, wouldn't it be wonderful if the small matter of lighting my work area was all that stood between quilting mediocrity and quilting excellence? Ha! 

Or if I could just harness the light from the afternoon sun that beams a little too brightly into my apartment at this time of the year.

Its rays shine right through the length of my apartment, hitting the back wall of my kitchen, and for a few weeks in late winter it's potentially quite damaging to my furniture coverings and carpet. Besides, nobody wants to wear sunglasses to use the kitchen.

Possible solution #1

Draw the vertical blinds and angle them so I can still see the view.

This helps a little, but all those vertical shadows make me feel like I'm in gaol.

Possible solution #2

Completely close the vertical blinds.

No sun, but now my kitchen is plunged into a Stygian gloom and I have to turn the lights on at 3 in the afternoon.

Fortunately I've finally found a solution that works. 

When I moved here I bought a nifty half umbrella, perfect for my balcony. It's just like a proper market umbrella, but with one flat side so that it takes up less room.

Recently I picked up  2 meters of shade cloth from Bunnings in the same sand colour as the umbrella, and hemmed the long sides.

Then I sewed Velcro tape to the flat side of the umbrella and to the shade cloth. Now I can have my doors open for fresh air, but my furniture is shielded from the worst of the damaging rays during those couple of hours each afternoon when the sun is low, and the shade shield is removable.

Two light solutions that are working for me!


  1. As you know I too love my Ecolux Lights. Bought one last year, then another two smaller ones for my Janome Gem Platinum machines. Also luv the little folding LED light. Wow, very clever solution to the sun coming into your apartment. Good old Velcro to the rescue. I don't imagine the shade cloth would have been so easy to stitch, but good for you. No end to your tallents.

  2. Those two LED lights are amazing Di. It's really hard work when you have shadows on your sewing. I can't say on the FMQ as I haven't actually given it a go. I'm a straight line girl! What a fabulous idea for cutting the light off your furniture. Sad when you have to shut out the beautiful sun but this is a brilliant idea. Long may the sun last.

  3. That's a clever idea with the umbrella.......I didn't even know you could buy half an umbrella! Haven't seen those nifty lights either, they are a great idea.

  4. It's pretty funny how us quilters at times need to find ways to acquire more light, and at others, how to keep the light away. You've resolved both beautifully, I think! I have the same machine strip light, and really love mine. It was pricey, but in the long run has proven to be a good investment. You're smart to sew and rig-up the blind on the umbrella. It's perfect. You're such a clever duck!

  5. Oh, lighting woes! ;D Very nice solution for your apartment. I had no idea half-umbrellas existed. Brilliant things, really. I struggle with that winter depression syndrome, so I can't shade my windows or block views. I've had to accept sun-damage to my furnishings/floorings in certain areas of the house as a cost of "treatment." Makes me a wee bit jealous when folks can use strategies like yours. :) Nice lighting for the machine, too! I haven't yet quieted my inner balkings at the cost, so I don't do much machine work at night. If I ever run out of hand work (which is what I focus on near the telly in the dark hours), I'll have to address that issue! lol

  6. Great problem solving on the light situations. I have the opposite problem with not enough light coming in the house. May I say your feathers are looking very curvy and lovely.

  7. Di thanks so much for posting this - like you I'm struggling with the light issue. I've ordered one from Amazon and it should be here next week. Most reviews there were good but a couple mentioned the light being "blue". Do you find that to be true? blessings, marlene

    1. I find the light quite "true" actually, Marlene. It's a big improvement on the machine light which is quite "yellow". I do hope you find it helpful. Linda (Flourishing Palms) has had one for a while, and likes it very much, and apart from her comment here you might like to search her blog for the post where she talks about it. I don't have it here, but it was in the last 12 months.


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