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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