Step-by-Step Guide on How To Use Quilting Pantographs

Traditionally quilting designs are handwoven and look very elegant. But there is nothing wrong with saying that sewing machines do a much better job in less time. And longarm quilting stands top in the list. 

But do you ever wonder how the three-dimensional padded surfaces of the quilting works have good repetitive designs? That too without any mistakes?

You can do this with the help of pantographs. You may remember one thing. How we used tracing papers for doing tough diagrams in our school assignments. You do the same concept of tracing here on fabric but with the help of a machine.

What is a Pantograph?

A pantograph is an instrument that helps in drawing repetitive designs on fabric. It’s also called a graph ruler or machine quilting template. Pantographs are usually made of metal or wood.

Why should we use a Pantograph?

The pantograph comprises two frames. One of them is stationary, and the other moves. The moving frame has a drawing instrument mounted, drawing on the fabric.

There are some advantages of using pantographs for quilting designs.

  • The first one is, it is time-saving. Unlike hand quilting, it does not need manual labor to produce 3D quilting designs with diverse patterns. 
  • Secondly, there are no errors or mistakes involved in this process, unlike hand weaving. Handweaving might result in uneven stitches or crumpled threads. 
  • Thirdly, it can also measure the size of the quilt without compromising on the quality of the design. 

You may not have any drawing skills or knowledge about sewing machines. Then also you can learn to use the machine through tutorials provided online for free!

Step-by-Step Guide on How To Use Quilting Pantographs

i. Prepare the design you want to do on the quilt

The design to be done on the quilt must be prepared at first. Let’s say you have a club emblem as your design. Freehand drawing it on the fabric will give you a hand-made look which is not what you want.

In this case, you need to prepare the design by photocopying it. You do it onto tracing paper or baking parchment paper. Then transfer it onto the fabric with a pantograph machine.

The pantograph machine has a cutting head that moves in a straight line. It forms a pattern on a piece of fabric stretched over the machine bed.

After that, you need to take care of one thing. That is all the lines have to be cut to prevent them from being mixed up with other lines printed later on. Sounds easy right? But it’s not as such. Because there are many layers of fabric and cutting them precisely requires some skills and patience too!. 

ii. Put the Quilt on the Quilting Machine

The first step is to place the quilt on the machine. The quilting machine has a frame. It is crucial to attach the fabric side of the quilt to this frame so that it doesn’t move while running.

There are two ways by which you can do this: 

  • The first one is by taping them with adhesive tapes and attaching them with tacks or staples. 
  • The second way is by sewing them together for stability.

Now that you have attached the fabric, you will need to put some cardboard pieces on top to fill in any gaps below it. It will ensure that you don’t end up accidentally cutting through your quilt when using a walking foot for stitching your layers together.

If there are any images or designs on your quilt, these should be facing downwards. You do this to avoid marking them with tape or other materials used to hold down your fabric. Now you’re ready to start stitching!

iii. Adjust the Laser Light of the Machine to a Magnificent Beam

Laser lights seem to be quite a significant investment. But using laser lights helps you do perfect sewing. It helps you quilt straight lines, half-square triangles, etc., as done on the pantographs. Pantographs give you a template or, better to say, a blueprint of the designs you are going to make on the quilt. 

The best part is your skill and what tools you use. Adjust the laser before you start to stitch. 

iv. Place the pantograph paper on the table, adjusting with the edges of the quilt top

After you make all the adjustments, it is time to place the pantograph paper. Place it by adjusting with the edges of the quilt top. Place the quilting paper properly. If you set it wrong, your design will go wrong.  

v. Move the machine head and put the needle according to the pattern

Tracing patterns on fabrics with the help of pantographs is an ancient technique. Quilters used it for generations. The machine that moves the fabric and needle from one point to another is called a pantograph.

On quilts, this technique is used for different designs like straight lines, curves, and circular shapes. 

It gives the quilts their three-dimensional look with no mistakes. Various types of pantographs are available on the market. It depends on your need for the design you want on your quilts.

vi. Place the Laser on the Pattern and Start Stitching

The pantograph has a sharp; straight edge taped to the fabric. The laser light is then placed on the pattern. The machine then stitches to follow the sharp edge of the design. This process eliminates any chance of mistakes usually seen in hand sewing designs.

A pantograph requires a precisely mirrored design on both sides. Also, it has no more than three colours. And this makes it effortless for you to stitch out any design with precision and accuracy.

vii. Complete Stitching with the Bottom Edge of the Quilt

Pantographs are a great invention in quilting. They will help you in the production of beautiful quilt designs.

Pantograph is a type of machine that you can use in quilting to create patterns with stitching on fabric. One side is a rubber belt with an engraved design. And when you turn the pantograph, it can copy this design onto fabric or other materials being passed between two rollers. You must trim the bottom edge of the fabric. This allows you to allow for smooth conversion from one side to another without any bumps.


Pantographs are one of the most beautiful inventions in the quilting world. It helps you to bring your imagination to your fabric. And that too without wasting time. 

But the laser beam part you have read is optional. Adding up a laser light is quite expensive. But if you want to be perfect in your craft, then lasers are a must. They help you sew through small complicated designs quietly. I hope you can gather an idea of using pantographs in your quilt. 

So, go ahead and put your imagination on the quilt. Happy quilting!

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