Using Pantographs

I’ve been quilting lots of pantographs lately. I thought I would share a bit about how they are used and how I space the rows of the design. This first pictures shows a Quilt of Valor loaded and ready for quilting.

I have some heavy vinyl laying on the table of my frame. I lay the paper pantographs underneath that. It keeps them in place and I use a grease pencil to mark the pattern as needed. A dry towel is all I need to erase the marks. I purchased this from JoAnn’s in the home dec area.

I always mark a line where the edges of the quilt are so I don’t go off quilting in mid air.

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This shows the first row of the pantograph completed.

When I finish a row. I move the machine so that I can drop the needle in the highest point of the pattern.

You can see in the next picture, that the laser light is on the corresponding part of the paper pattern.

I leave the needle down, turn the rollers to advance the quilt until the laser light is now on the lighter gray area of the pattern. This corresponds to the previous row. The machine moves as I roll the quilt. 
See how the machine has the needle down in the same spot of the quilt, but it is now close to the back bar? 
Now everything is lined up for the next row. I will use smooth everything out and then machine to baste the edges of the top to the batting/backing ad I am ready to go.

See the little arrow I marked with a grease pencil? Sometimes, I can’t complete a row. If I mark an arrow, it is easy to remember which way I am going when I come back. It isn’t always easy to see which way you are traveling on a complex pattern. You don’t want to sew on top of a previously sewn line and then have to rip! Ask me how I know this…


The pantograph I am using here is called Elongated Meander. It is a 13 inch panto and that is about the biggest I can do on my 18 inch machine.

I hope this makes sense. I am going to try to do another posting on choosing and purchasing pantos soon.

Linking up with Sew Fresh Quilts, Quilt Fabrication

About katyquilts

I am a wife, mom of four amazing kids, and a librarian. I have been making traditional quilts for ages but have ventured into art qulting in the last several years. I also love to knit socks and mittens and dye my own fabric. I am thankful to God my Father and Creator for the gift of creativity!
This entry was posted in Long Arm Quilting, Longarm Quilting, Pantographs, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to Using Pantographs

  1. Julie Stocker says:

    Good, informative post. I was going in blindly my first run with a panto, but there are some tricks that just make it easier. You’ve highlighted them well. Thank you, Katy.

  2. Val W says:

    Now I have an even greater respect for what you do to quilt a top so beautifully.

  3. Lin McQuiston says:

    Great tutorial on pantos. Any chance you could share a pic of your most used pantos with their name and where you purchased it. I really like some of the ones you’ve used but don’t know where to buy. Thanks so much.

  4. Thank you for sharing your process!

  5. Jayne says:

    How interesting! I’ve never seen any long arm in action, I just know there are some gorgeous designs!

  6. Sue says:

    Thank you for this, since I don’t quilt as often as I’d like, I forget when I come back to my machine how to line up the next row. Stitching Sisters loves you and the beautiful work you do for us!

  7. lois92346 says:

    Thanks for the informative post, Katie! The clear plastic is a wonderful idea to protect your pattern when you find it necessary to mark it.

  8. Thanks so much for sharing this. Although I have the laser and a panto came with the machine I have never tried it!! When we covered this in the class it seemed such a long winded way of doing things that I decided just to learn to freehand. But … I love the idea of the see through vinyl and these photos really explain how to make it work properly and get the design matched up. Think I will have to have a go because it would be good to be able to offer it as a service.

  9. Susan says:

    Thanks for walking us through your process! It’s always nice to see how others do this.

  10. Kate Heads says:

    I know nothing about longer quilting, I always just handed my quilts over for pantograph or custom but it is interesting learning more about the process. Thank you for the tutorial.

  11. anudge says:

    Excellent walk through the process. Now if someone could come up with a method to do these patterns on a DMS. Lovely work.

  12. That is indeed informative. Unfortunately my sewing room is so small I cannot get behind my longarm. Probably would not do me much good if I could. I am lousy at staying on the line with the laser pointer! You, however, do a wonderful job. Very impressive always.

  13. Heide says:

    What a wonderful informative post. I am fascinated with long arm quilting and love to see it done. TFS!

  14. Terri says:

    Katy, I really appreciate this very informative post. If the pantograph does not have the light gray part on it, do you draw it on? I will be doing my first gifted quilt this weekend with a panto and I am VERY NERVOUS. There’s a lot of work in the quilt that I made so I’m scared to do the quilting

  15. Karen says:

    What gauge vinyl do you purchase from JoAnn’s?

  16. thebiasedge says:

    We have the same LA! Thank you for the tutorial. I have been very hesitant doing pantos

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