How To Use a Pantograph For Quilting? Let’s Dig a Little Deep

Quilting designs are handwoven and look very beautiful. But there is no offense in saying that sewing machines do the same work in much less time and hard work. And longarm quilting stands top in the list. 

But do you ever wonder? How do the quilts contain repetitive designs without any mistakes?

It is done with the help of pantographs. You may remember how we used tracing papers for doing diagrams in our school assignments. The same concept of tracing is done here on fabric but with the help of a machine.

How To Use a Pantograph For Quilting? Let’s Dig a Little Deep

Let’s see how a pantograph is used for quilting:

I. Prepare the Design

It’s advisable to have a design in mind before designing the quilt. You can use different pattern books, colored papers, etc., as a guideline for the procedure.

You need to keep some things in mind while working on your pattern:

  • Fit –

The more fitted the garment is, the better it will look. If it fits tight around your body, a large part of excess fabric may be left hanging below the armhole area. It results in a baggy or bulky appearance.

  • Pattern fit – 

The pattern must fit well on all parts of the garment at once. Hence there should be no space between pieces when stitching them together. It is the same as buttonholes.

  • Fabric type –

Choosing fabrics that match one another well is essential not to look mismatched. For example, silk will show through if you use cotton for one piece and silk for another. Silk is a more refined texture and might appear dark when seen from afar.

  • Color choice – 

Colored fabrics like black and white, orange, etc., give a clean look while others like pink and red show through even though they are not dyed.

II. Put the Quilt on The Quilting Machine

The pantograph is attached to the quilting machine with a thread that passes through a hole in the machine. The line passes through a unique string-like material, and one end of the cord is tied to the pantograph. The other end of the cord is connected to an open slot on top of the quilting machine. This slot has a small square hole at one end and a giant square hole at the opposite end.

III. Adjust the Laser Light of the Machine

We use the pantograph to adjust the laser beam on the fabric.

The pantograph has a small fan that spins a thin strip of plastic (called an “A-frame””) on the quilting machine. The narrow strip of plastic is made up of hundreds of tiny mirrors. These mirrors reflect and redirect the light into a fine beam at 90 degrees from normal. The beam strikes the top edge of a layer of fabric, which is called the “top layer.”

It causes areas on the top layer to glow with particular fluorescence for about one second in front of each other before they blend again. It glows in different colors. It depends on how much light is reflected by each layer and how long it was illuminated by the laser beam (or how long it remained lit).

IV. Place the Pantograph Paper

Place the pantographs on the table, adjusting with the top of the quilt.

Turn and turn again until you have a complete pattern with seven lines showing all sides of the quilt top. You will have to do this again for each side of the quilt. If you want to show two sides of a quilt, use four pantographs. After all, we are making a complete pattern but only showing seven lines.

These pantographs will help each time you make more than one line. You must change them after every line to match your other lines on the top of the quilt.

It is also essential that you fix these pantographs at right angles. There must be no slanting or changing grades when using these machines. It could affect later operations such as sewing and embroidery.

V. Move the Machine Head and Put the Needle

At the very first, you should know that you use pantographs for quilting or sewing by touching the fabric. You need to move the machine head in a particular manner to transfer the pattern onto the textile.

The pantograph is mounted on a sturdy frame fixed to the machine head. The base of this machine holds the design and scraps of fabric while moving it up and down. Once you have placed your needle according to the pattern on top of the material, you can start sewing!

VI. Place the laser on the pattern and start stitching

The use of a needle does it. The fabric will be picked up from the surface and transferred to the machine.

The pantograph can also be used for other types of work like zig-zags, scallop quilting, etc.

VII. Stitch The Second Row of Pattern

Stitching the second row of pattern pieces is easy, but the second row has to be stitched in a 2:1 ratio. The machine should sew each side of the pattern piece onto the first side to do this.

Then the machine should stitch both sides of the pattern piece in one go. If you are using a single thread and doing it top-down, then stitching each layer or two layers at a time will help you stitch them without any errors.

VIII. Complete Stitching With the Bottom Edge of the Quilt

One of the main reasons we use pantographs for quilting is that it dramatically reduces the number of runs.

The pantograph automatically stitches the top edge to the bottom edge. It does this without any need for manual stitching. It eliminates the chance of a run. Sewing machines only stitch with one thread, and every stitch they do leaves a tiny hole in the fabric. It is known as the “hole-in-the-fabric” or “tear” effect.

A pantograph on its own can achieve such perfect stitches that no trace of a tear remains in the fabric. It leaves no visible defect on the surface of quilt pieces.

And your quilt is ready.

Final words

Quilting is not stitching together the layers of padding and fabric; it is an art form from ancient days. And people need to keep this alive. It is good that technology has given it a space in its lap. And quilting machines come into the scene. They are more beneficial as they lessen the tedious task of stitching with hands.

Also, pantographs make maintaining the repetition easier and make the quilt look perfect.

Hope after reading this article you got enough idea how to use a pantograph for quilting. You may have observed that making a beautiful quilt is no rocket science if you find interest in the job. 

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