What the heck is a pantograph?


In 2010, I was a relatively new machine quilter when I attended the Machine Quilter’s Expo on Rhode Island. I signed up for several free motion classes, which turned out to be conducted on longarm quilting machines. At that point, I’d never even heard of a longarm machine. (Of course, it was love at first sight, but that’s another story.)

At every class, people would use the word “panto.” I had no idea what they were talking about. Too shy to show my ignorance, I never got the courage to ask. In hindsight, I would have gotten a lot more out of my classes if I’d understood the language.

So, for the few of you who might not know, this post is dedicated to pantographs. A pantograph is a design that is printed on a piece of paper that’s about 12′ long and between 4″ and 20″ wide. The design is one continuous line. You start at one edge of the quilt, follow the design with a laser stylus, and sew until you get to the other edge of your machine. You don’t worry about sewing over blocks, applique or borders. Pantographs can range from simple to complex. They can also be recognizable shapes (such as bows or a baby bottle) or abstract lines and complex designs. The process of using pantographs is sometimes referred to as “edge to edge” quilting.

APQS has  a great series of Youtube tutorials for longarm quilters. Here’s their recent tutorial on pantographs.


Pantographs are available in paper and digital formats. (The digital format is for people who have computers.)  It generally costs between $14 and $20 per pantograph and buying them is addictive! There are many vendors selling pantographs. Here’s one of my favorites:



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