Basic Laser Light Positioning

Posted by on November 3, 2014

Tools you might want to have handy are a long ruler, chalk, sticky dots for markers and tape to hold the pattern flat. You might have a plastic panto protector, and that will hold the pattern instead as some machines are equipped with that.

Laser light positioning is one of the first things students want to learn. Most new owners of long arm machines will try an edge to edge pantograph first.


To center a block:

We must line up the center and all four corners of the paper with the actual patchwork block so these are the steps to do that.

  1. Mark with ruler and chalk an X across the patchwork  block to find the center of the patchwork block
  2. Place the needle over center of the X. Put the needle in down position if you wish to hold the position.
  3. Go to the back of the machine and place the paper pattern on frame of the machine. Line up the laser light dot with the center of the pattern. Stick some tape to the pattern for a temporary hold as we are going to check corners next and we might have to move the paper a little.
  4. Raise the needle.
  5. Roll the machine so that needle is now in one of the corners. Look down at the laser light and paper pattern and check if the corner is lining up with the pattern. You can tell which way you might have to rotate the block to match the corner.
  6. Check all four corners the same. Move the paper as needed.
  7. Re check the middle and then press the tape down for a more secure hold so that the paper block cannot move during the stitching.

To line up a panto: stacking the rows

We are going to mark some locations and then we will adjust the paper pattern once. After we adjust the paper we never have to move the paper again. We will make all the other adjustments by moving the laser light only. Never roll the fabric with the needle down.

  1. Roll the machine to the center of the frame and mark with a sticky dot on the table so that you can come back to that same center position and measure from that same point every time. Mark the sticky dot number 1.
  2. From that center point roll the machine needle over to the closest point you wish the pattern to stitch near the pick up roller. I call it the lowest point you wish the panto to stitch but some refer to it as closest to the pick up roller.
  3. Put the needle in the down position to hold that spot while you adjust the laser light for the pattern by putting the laser on the lowest point of the pattern. This is your one and only chance to adjust that pantograph paper. If you wish a certain part of the design to go right down the center, then move the pattern so that part is centered and a the lowest point of  the laser light. If you are trying to get something specific to go right down the borders this is where you adjust the paper for that also. Now tape the paper down.
  4. Center the machine on the sticky dot number 1
  5. Move the laser light to the lowest point of the pattern design (not the paper—the design). Then place another sticky dot under the laser light spot and mark it with a number 2.

Every time you wish to run a row you will go through the process of centering the machine on sticky dot 1, placing the needle on the fabric where you want the edge of the row to run and then placing the laser light spot on the sticky dot marked 2.

If you wish a certain amount of spacing between rows you can cut a paper spacer. Typically rows of pantos have 3//4 inch spacing between them. Some patterns like diamonds touch or nearly touch. For some patterns you will want a large amount of spacing between. For instance objects like deer and tractors.

If you are using a paper spacer you will lay that piece of paper on the quilt top on the edge of the previous row that you just ran. Then you will place the needle on the far side of it so that spacing will occur in your placement of the laser light.


Notice the uneven spacing between these rows. It is very important that you measure correctly and use a paper spacer to gauge spacing.

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Leave a Comment


  1. Mavis sloman says:

    I would like to purchase a laser light to add to my apprentice. I can’t find any location or source to purchase it from. Any help would be appreciated.

    • Kelley Nemitz says:

      Hi Mavis… We can help you with your purchase. Please call toll free 888-Quilt-18 Option Sales.

  2. Ann Graham says:

    My blue laser light keeps bumping into the take up pole. how do I adjust?

    • kelleyn says:

      Hi Ann,
      One option is to position the laser light in a new position on the carriage or use a smaller pantograph that does not require moving the laser light into the take up rail. Is it hitting the empty take up rail or are we half way into the quilt so that the rolled up quilt is what is hitting the laser light? As the take up rail grows with the quilt the risk of hitting the laser light increases.
      Hoping this helps!

  3. Laura Smith says:

    I would like to know more about these plastic squares (?) pantograph like how many designs do you have. And how much do they cost? Do you have a catalog of the pantographs? So from what I read you need to have the paper and the plastic squares ? Sorry I am new to this and there isn’t much info on it.

    • kelleyn says:

      Hi Laura… A pantograph is usually printed on paper. The design printed is to be followed using a laser while the machine is stitching out the design on the quilt. The Plastic items you mention are probably templates. The designs on these are to be traced onto the quilt top and the quilter follows the tracing to stitch out the designs. TinLizzie18 retail store in Utah sells pantographs for about $16 depending on the size of the pantograph. There are many web site where you are able to purchase pantographs and templates. We do not sell templates at our retail store.

  4. Lois Daubney says:

    Can you show a picture of placement of the laser light itself? I have Ansley 26 and I keep loosing the light as I move my machine while following the panto.

  5. AJ says:

    Very useful instructions.

    My sister-in-law has a used Tin Lizzie 18 which has a laser light that won’t turn on unless you hold onto the button on the laser. How do you get the laser to stay lit when you attach it to the machine?

    • kelleyn says:

      Hi AJ…Sounds like the laser light you have might have a bad button or your batteries are low.

    • Ann Graham says:

      I hve a lot to learn HOpe tinlizzie is in the Jax quilt fest in sept I really do not like to panto Yet I want to learn I do need training after 5 years I realize some questions to ask I have the wonderful machine to make it happen Your advice did help My panto was too large again thanks

  6. Margie Campbell says:

    Excellent tutorial!

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