Table modification-Making the most of your reach

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I love my new Freedom, but after having owned several different machines, I really dislike that the distance between the edge of my quilting space and by body is a full 8.5-9" due to the placement of the backing roller. If the backing rollers sat immediately below the "top" roller, that amount would be reduced by a full 4", which is a lot when you consider the area of work space you have the greatest amount of physical control of your machine for detail work.


My question--has anyone repositioned their backing roller, or, alternatively, swapped the backing roller with the top roller, eliminating the existing backing roller? (I'm not sure that would even work due to elevation.)  I don't want to just remove the top roller to float my top--I want to eliminate the wasted space to get closer to my work.  I would prefer to keep both rollers, because I like the resistance the top roller provides, even when I don't pin to it. 


If so, what have you used for a brake?



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 You can remove the top roller (that the quilt top would be attached to unless you float your tops) by purchasing a system like the "Texas Hold-em" which gives the brake something to clamp to. Your view of the top will be improved, but I don't think that will extend your quilting area much or move the area closer to you. The "reach" of the machine is wholly determined by the throat space and the distance from the front edge of the carriage to the needle. The inside of the throat at the back will bump into the loaded quilt as you advance and you can only go as far forward as that will allow. Any farther forward and the carriage of the machine will bump into the bottom front roller. So the area that is not quiltable is the distance from the front roller to the needle when the machine is pulled as far forward as possible. There isn't a way to shorten that distance.


To get closer to your work and especially for intricate and dense quilting, perhaps get the hydraulic lifts so you can lower the frame. Then you can see better and stitch while sitting if that's an option for you. Then for more open stitching you can raise the frame up to your best-use level.

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What you really want to do is attach the roller for the quilt back into the frame directly under where the quilt top roller is.  Since the bolts for the quilt top roller go into the frame you would have to remove it all together.

Then if you were to roll your whole quilt onto the quilt back roller you would not have anything (roller) to hold your quilt top level.

If I have a bulky top and were to reroll in onto the quilt back roller to  quilt fill in stitches it could fill all of the space between the backing and the top roller.


 Would be great to have more reach but my arms are shortish and I find I quilt better in the 12" of space in the centre of the rollers.  I find I step back if I want to quilt very close to the front rollers.

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I must have short arms because I, also, have a dickens of a time controlling my stitching when I have to reach so far forward while quilting in the area nearer the throat of my machine. That space is part of the usable quilting area but comfortable access it isn't. I probably can comfortably quilt about 10" before I'm stretching to reach, and then the stretching affects the ease of quilting plus puts a lot of pressure on my shoulders and elbows which always give me grief. So I understand 100% what you are asking about modifying.

My machine's table is an older version than yours, and it would be possible to modify but would take welding on a short arm to the frame below the quilt top bar and installing my sprocket brake there for my backing/belly bar to mount to. I've wondered about this same modification before for the same reason.

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Thank you for the feedback.  


I was really hoping someone had already figured out how to resolve the issue I am having!


I have hydraulic lifts on this machine, as I've had on my other machines, which is a wonderful convenience and I use a lot, but it does not really affect the reach situation.  I understand that the reach of the head is limited by the throat space--this is why I was questioning table  modification to possibly remove the wasted space that having the bars stick out as far as they do creates.  I have thought about moving the backing roller directing under the top roller, but I do understand there will be some issues with that...


I will keep thinking and hopefully come up with something. When I do, I'll be sure and post what I come up with!!

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Shannon:  I resolved the issue, but this probably won't be very helpful.  I built a new roller rack.  What will be probably even less helpful is that my machine is an Ult 2, not a freedom.  Inorder to get at my batting to keep it smooth as I advance the quilt, I made separate arms that hold the quilt top roller, that allow me to lift it above the quilt sandwich.  I positioned the quilt top roller below that backing roller, and about a roller diameter further out.  I used gas struts to assist i lifting the roller when I want to look at my batting.


I'm not very familar with the Freedom table, so I don't know whether the quilt top roller can be lowered and it's direction of rotation reversed. (the backing needs to come off the top of the roller, not the bottom)  If it can be, then you could use it as you backing roller.  That would get you half way there.  All you'd have to do then is fabricate mounts to hold the top roller below the backing roller.  There is one caution that I must offer however.  Many of the accessories for APQS machines depend on the elevated top roller.  For instance my Quiltazoid is designed to clamp to the top roller. With my roller configuration I had to accomodate a special bar for my table to clamp it to when I use it.  If you can e-mail me photos of the roller assembly of your table, maybe I can come up with some ideas.  Right now I'm working on doing modifications to a Gammill table so I can get at the batting on it.  Their "pivetal  access" arragnement stinks.  Jim

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