Let’s Go! With a Panto!
Let’s Go! With a Panto!
Quilting the same design, in rows, edge to edge, on a quilt, using a laser light to follow a paper pattern is called pantograph quilting. We have just nicknamed the process quilting with a “panto”.
Some of the longarm quilters absolutely love following a panto as they feel secure in the fact that they know exactly what look they are getting before they start on the quilt. Pantos can be purchased in just about every theme so you can customize the pattern to the quilt or to the quilt owner. Also, the learning curve for running a panto is very short and most longarm quilters agree that once you learn, all the pantos are the same as far as difficulty. A new owner of a longarm is encouraged to learn panto style quilting first to gain control of the movement of the machine and it is considered one of the easiest forms of longarming.
First, qualifying the Quilt.
Deciding to use a panto usually has to do with a couple of factors. It is considered the fastest form of finishing a quilt, so maybe you want to complete your quilt quickly. The quilt will end up being evenly balanced as far as the quilting and that makes a nice quilt to sleep under. Maybe the quilt that is to be finished would be laundered frequently and with a panto the quilt is secured with stitching all over and would hold up better. The quilt itself might have enough dominating patchwork on it so that a custom quilt pattern selection wouldn’t be seen, so why spend the time if you cannot enhance the quilt with a custom job. Therefore, panto would be a great choice.
Second, prepare the quilt
I know, we all hate the math but, you will get good results if you plan and also you will get good at estimating. We want to place chalk marks on the edge where the rows should begin so that we are sure about row placement. It is important to place the chalk marks because typically a 100 inch quilt will stretch on the longarm frame to approximately 103inches. In order to come out at the end of the quilt with full rows and not with a half a row you should estimate the number of rows you would be quilting.
If you measure the quilt in a relaxed state and place the chalk marks on the quilt it doesn’t matter where the gained inches from stretching occur as when the quilt goes back to the relaxed state the rows will still be evenly spaced.
When doing the math you must remember that a good rule of thumb is a ¾ inch spacing between the panto rows. Plan a little spacing at the beginning and at the end of the quilt. You can choose a small space or a large one. If you choose a large space at the end you might want to consider meandering or something to fill it out to the end and keep a balanced look to the quilt. I know that all of you that are perfectionists you will be figuring down to the last 1/8th of an inch but will a product as large as a quilt you will not see small amounts of variances, so don’t sweat the small stuff.
One thing you might consider when you get your pattern and quilt on the machine frame is where the center of the quilt is and where the center of the pattern lays under the laser light. Just Bring your sewing needle to the center of the quilt and position the pattern where you want it with considerations to where the center pattern goes and what part of the pattern will fall on the outside edges.
1 inch allowance on each end
Measure the space remaining and divide by the width of your pattern plus the ¾ inch spacing. You only need to mark the left side with chalk as that is the starting place for the machine.
Tip: If you decided to eliminate a row and have larger end spaces you might wish to freehand meander those ends. It really looks nice and finished that way.
Third, get the laser light ready
Be sure that your laser light is tight and will not move during operation. We do not want that light to slip and reposition the rows while we are sewing along.
Fourth, get the paper pantograph ready.
Secure the rolled pantograph pattern with tape or with a plastic pattern protector made for pantographs so it cannot shift during use. Even if you decide that you want to stagger the rows you will do that entirely by moving the laser light and never by shifting the paper pattern.
Fifth, line up your quilt with the pantograph.
Tip: I like to use the little dot stickers that you can buy at the office store to help me mark my laser light positioning for each quilt. If you have pattern protectors you can place the little stickers on there to help you or some of those pattern protectors can be marked with a dry erase marker and then wiped clean.
Tip: When sewing with the machine, side step at selected points of each repeat to keep from showing any wiggle in the pattern from stepping. I usually choose a point or tip where the pattern changes direction because I can actually stall there undetected for a moment while I move my feet.
Tip: Remember the term “lowest”.
Bring the machine to the center of the quilt frame and place a dot on near the edge of the machine but on the panto. Each time you re-measure you will come to that same spot with your machine. Then bring the needle to the “lowest” spot on the quilt that you want that first row of stitching to come to. Last, position the laser light to the “lowest” point of the pattern, and even if the light falls between the themes of the panto make sure that the level that you adjust your laser light to is the “lowest” point of the design itself(not the paper). Tighten up on the laser so that it cannot jiggle loose while stitching. Tip: Always start your pantograph row to the right if you are standing on the back of the machine.(The back has the power cord on it.(Standing on the front would make that starting position on the left). End on the left. (Standing on the front would make that the right). Cut your thread and roll the machine back to the right to begin the repeating rows.
Sixth, roll your quilt and repeat.
When you complete the pantograph rows that fit into that space nicely then you are ready to roll the finished quilt area up onto the pickup roller. Leave a little of the last row visible because you are going to want to double check your spacing between rows and you will need to see that portion of the last row.