• How To Make A Pantograph Or Roll Quilting Pattern

    If you have a short arm or long arm quilting system you might wish to make your own pantograph roll pattern. Many great commercial pantograph patterns are available for sale and it is good to support other designers with your purchases, yet sometimes you simply want a specific pantograph pattern that is not available. This is the opportunity to design your own quilting pantograph.

    Ideas for pantograph patterns can come from anywhere. Wall paper and wrapping paper, a piece of fabric, architecture, vinyl and wood flooring, might give some good design ideas. There are many simple design ideas that are noticed every day. Carry a small notepad in your purse and if you see an idea for a pantograph pattern or a quilt block simply make a small sketch to refer to later. If you have a digital camera or camera phone simply take a photo for later.

    Design your pantograph

    To design your own pantograph you will need paper and pencil, tracing paper, and a fine line black permanent marker. You will also need either access to a copy machine that enlarges or reduces or have appropriate computer software to scan and enlarge. When you are ready to make your pantograph you will need either banner printer paper and appropriate software or multiple copies and invisible tape, or simple shelf paper for tracing.

    Draw several sketches of your design -- you only need to draw one repeat as you will be making copies later. Your drawing doesn't need to be the exact size yet -- simply draw what you wish as small or as large as is comfortable. If your design is symmetrical you may want to fold the paper and trace the other half of the design. Or fold paper and cut your design with scissors and then trace it onto paper.

    Choose a final draft from your sketches and trace that one onto tracing paper using a black fine point permanent marker. Tracing paper is translucent and can be flipped over when copying so a reverse or mirror image may be obtained.

    Take your original drawing to the copy shop and enlarge or reduce it to the size you wish. If you wish a mirror image, simply flip your tracing paper original and make a copy of the reverse side. Or you may scan the drawing and resize and flip on your computer using appropriate software.

    Make your pantograph

    Measure the length of your pattern table on your frame. This is the length you need to make your pantograph. For instance my table is 10 feet long or 120 inches.

    Make enough copies of your design and tape them together to make your original at least 17" long. Most copy shops will make 11" x 17" copies. Look carefully at your original and note where the design will overlap when taping the copies together to make the pantograph.

    Depending on your design you will need to make eight to ten 17" copies. Bring them home and tape them together being careful to match the repeats as close as possible. Use "frosty" invisible clear tape so you won't have a glare on your pattern.

    Where the paper overlaps, trim excess paper from the back leaving about a quarter to a half inch. Add another piece of tape. Continue taping till all copies are taped together.

    If you have computer software to make banners you might wish to make your pantograph by printing repeats of your scanned final design and print it on continuous banner paper.

    Or if you don't have banner software or a copy shop readily available, you can always use a roll of freezer paper or shelf paper and hand trace the repeats across the roll of paper for the length your pantograph.

    After your pantograph is printed, copied and taped, or traced, trim excess paper from pantograph by using a rotary ruler and a rotary cutter with a dull blade. Trim the paper leaving at least an inch on the outside of the design. Trim both sides of the design. Roll the pantograph and secure it with a rubber band.

    Label the outside of the pantograph roll with a very small sketch of your design and the size. It is ready to unroll and use at a moments notice.

    You will have the satisfaction of using a pattern that you designed and make your borders or edge to edge quilting unique.

    Here are a couple of questions from subscribers I would like to answer.

    What can you do when your quilting pencil marks do not come out? I've even tried a different pencil. Kathy
    You can use sharp pieces of soap to add markings. On the darker fabric, you can also use chalk.

    Just to help you visualize what I mean - don't use a new bar, it's simply too think. Instead, use an old (almost finished) bar that got so thin you are about to throw it out. It should be thin enough to make fine marks on the fabric. A soap bar would leave thicker marks than a pencil, but they are fine enough for basic sewing and quilting. And of course, you won't have any problems removing soap from the fabric.

    Subscriber comments:
    To remove pencilled quilting marks, try the following: 6 T. alcohol, 2 T. water, 2 drops liquid soap. Use an old toothbrush.

    Subscriber comments:
    I got a good tip from my husband. He gave me some "soap stone" that they use in construction, on metal buildings. It can be cut to a fine tip for marking and it rubs off when your done.

    Subscriber comments:
    The product I use is a tailors wax - P-M-C #3001 and I purchase it from Atlanta Thread. When used on 100% cotton it will press out leaving no marks. (Always test your fabrics) I have a tiny iron purchased from Clotilde but widely available that I use for this so I don't press the quilt just the line. Chalks will rub off very easily, the wax stays there till I remove it. For those quilters who have a business the fact that these wax pieces are inexpensive and come in a box of 48 - it takes for a great hand out to new customers - the free lesson in marking makes them feel like they got that extra personal attention.

    Another question I got:

    I have a problem when making a template for a curved piece. How do you mark 1/4" seam allowance on a curve? Is there a special tool?
    Making a template for curved piecing is fairly simple. First I trace the template onto template plastic with a very fine point permanent pen. If I am making a small template I just use my small quarter inch ruler and mark the 1/4" seam allowance approximately every half inch around the curve. Then I just connect the marks by drawing freehand between. When cutting the template out, I smooth the outside lines with the scissors. Then they will be smooth for tracing around the template.

    If I am making multiple templates or very large curved templates there is a tool available. It is a curved ruler called a 'flex design ruler'. There is one available at JoAnn's Fabrics or your local quilt store for about six dollars. It is 1/4" wide and has a flexible metal interior with plastic coating. The one I have has inch markings on one side and metric on the opposite side. It is about 14" long.

    If you use the flexible design ruler to add seam allowance to your templates, you will need to be very careful to get the ruler shaped exactly like the edge of the template. This can be quite a trick with only two hands. I find if I mark five or six inches at a time I can control the flex ruler with one hand and mark with the other.

    I have another "flexible curve" that is 18" long and a half inch wide. There are no inch markings. I purchased it in the drafting tool department of the office supply store. The half inch wide flexible curve is very useful for cutting free hand curves as it will add both seam allowances at one time since it is 1/2" wide.

    Subscriber comments:
    About Lorreta's problem. Re: quarter-inch marking. I used to have a small round washer-like metal thing with a tiny hole in the center (rather than the large hole of a washer). Pencil into the hole, washer on fabric with edge up against edge of template, and mark-as-you-go around the template.
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