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Pride Digital Pantographs

I've been working on a special project with my guildmate Ben Millett. We both are members of the Central Iowa Modern Quilt Guild that meets in the Des Moines metro area.

You kind of just need to check out Ben's blog to get a sense of the caliber of work he creates and the intention behind his pieces. I always love to see the creativity he brings to modern quilting!

His piecing is just one layer of his finished work. He's someone who will bring the most meaning possible to each and every detail. The quilting design should be no different, right? Except, what is commercially available as far as LGBTQ+ affirming quilting designs? Ben wanted to change that, and he did so in the most personal way possible—by spelling out the most essential words of his message in his own hand.



I was just the digitizer for this project - the art is all Ben's. My part was to use my "special software" to create the files so that quilters everywhere can use them. I...

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Together Digital Quilting Design

 

 

 

Meet the digital pantograph design released to the Longarm League membership in July of 2021. It's called Together.

I work on a lot of designs—sometimes many at once—and can't always remember what my inspiration or motivation behind them was, but I'm pretty sure this was started after seeing some wallpaper on Pinterest that I really liked. That's not the first time that's happened, either. It turns out wallpaper really gets my creative juices flowin'!  When I nested the repeating rows together, I saw the possibility of them appearing to intertwine, and I was really into that idea.

 



I could see this design working well on a modern quilt top, and/or perhaps one with a lot of negative space - the texture really looks great!



This sample quilt size is approximately 45" x 50". For a reference in scaling the design, the pictures here show a 3.0" row height with a gap between rows of -1.167" which created a...

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Glancing Digital Quilting Pantograph Design

 

 

 

I get naming fatigue when I'm working on lots of pantograph designs, often at the same time. I like to have practical names so that I can remember essentially what they look like without opening the files, but then those names don't often translate well to the marketplace.

This is one of those designs that I really can't recall what it started out being, but after I saw "snake eyes" I couldn't really see anything else. Longarm League member Lin Miller suggested the name Glancing in our Slack channel and immediately I knew that it was a better title than Snake Eyes.  Or maybe I should have cut right to the chase and named it Kaa after the character in Jungle Book. It wouldn't be the first time a design of mine inadvertently took on the shapes of animated Disney characters. 





What I DO remember about this design is that it's easy to stitch out with no backtracking. Huzzah! 

When setting the design up in a computerized system, it does...

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Craft to Career Podcast Guest Reflections

I was so honored to be a guest on Elizabeth Chappell's podcast called Craft to Career. Listen to the episode here.

Maybe this makes me a monster, but I really liked this episode! Am I allowed to say that allowed without sounding braggy? There was a time where it made me really uncomfortable to hear a recording of my own voice, but I guess I'm over that now that I'm 40. I really liked the questions Elizabeth asked and how the conversation flowed.

As she mentioned in the episode, we met each other at QuiltCon in Austin, Texas, in February of 2020—right before the world shut down.  At that point, I knew that we had memberships in common, so I immediately struck up a conversation. I had just started mine not quite 6 months prior and I was obsessed with trying to improve and grow the Longarm League (still am!). She had started the Quilters Candy digital membership by then, too, and so we quickly found ourselves comparing and contrasting our offerings, at one...

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The Making of the Peak Blooms Pantograph

 

Have you considered digitizing quilting patterns?

Since the Longarm League began, many of our members have been curious about digitizing. How difficult is it? What is the process involved? How does one sell designs? 

In an effort to show my approach, I started recording my computer screen as I was working on my design that eventually became known as Peak Blooms

When I started this design, I didn't know where it was going to take me, and I'm pretty sure I would have scrapped it immediately if I could see into the future and know just how L-O-N-G it would take to tweak all of my blessed petals! 


But, I'm stubborn. "In for a penny, in for a pound", as they say! All told, I recorded about 10 hours of on-screen digitizing over several days. You certainly don't have that kind of time to watch it unfold, so that's why I put this video in hyperdrive to give you a look behind the scenes.

Luckily, most designs only take a fraction of the time from beginning vision...

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Behold Digital Pantograph Quilting Design

 

I was so mesmerized by how this design was stitching out that I didn't realize I'd forgotten to record a snippet of the stitch path until I was on the last row! Oops! The video of the final row stitch-out is available at the top of this post.

What I really like to show in the videos is how any backtracking happens. As a designer, I try not to use backtracking too much, but it's also unavoidable at times. So, yes, there is some backtracking in this design, but it's not too intense. If it helps me accomplish a pretty result? Sign me up! I'm okay with that.

The upside-down clamshells are staggered a bit—one higher than the other on the repeat—so that you can set it up on your computer without offsetting. Once the rows are placed, you'll want to nest the rows closely, but they shouldn't touch. The space between the rows will give a little bit of margin and help hide any inconsistencies during realignment. It needs to be...

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Shields Digital Pantograph Quilting Design

 

 

 

Shields is a digital pantograph design by Jess Zeigler (that's me!) for Longarm League.


I find myself frequently recommending pantos comprised of simple shapes, especially for quilt tops that have a lot of piecing, color, and/or fabrics. I find these simpler quilting designs to be the most versatile because they have a way of bringing calm and a cohesive element to a "busy" top. They lend beautiful texture without complicating the quilt.

This little motif reminded me of an abstract and somewhat asymmetrical shield. Or scales. Panning out and looking at the overall effect resembled a braid of some kind. 


As you can see from the video of the stitch-out at the top of this post, there is only a tiny bit of backtracking. When you set up the design in your computerized system, it does not need any offsetting.

When quilting this baby-sized sample approximately 45" x 50", I set the row height at 2.5" and used a...

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Custom Made T-shirt Quilts in a Longarm Quilting Business

 

Should you offer Custom T-shirt Quilt Services?

You have a longarm quilting business and someone asks you to make them a t-shirt quilt. What do you say?! 

Maybe you love tshirt quilts? Maybe you hate them. Feelings aside (but really, I would never tell you to put your feelings aside), does it make financial sense to add this service to your menu of offerings as a longarm quilting business?

Custom quilts or custom quilting can mean different things in different contexts. For the sake of this conversation, I mean "custom" in a start-to-finish way with specific materials (t-shirts) provided by the client. Custom here does not refer to a specialized kind of layout or that areas of longarm quilting are specific to certain areas of the quilt.  

I asked Longarm League member Kristen Lee of Mashe Modern for her perspective. Watch a clip from our call in the video player above.

Early on, when her hobby was just starting to morph into a business, Kristen made custom...

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Digital Quilting: Tips for Precise Alignment

I need to get something off my chest. You know it and I know it.

Quilting CHANGES the quilt.

Not only in an "it's not a quilt until it's quilted" way,

not just for beautification,

but in a real-deal the top was 50" x 50" and now it's.... smaller kind of way.

We call it shrinkage, fabric draw, draw-up, and probably other names, too. It all refers to the way that quilting will cause the top to shrink inward.


I like to offer this comparison: Say I have an ink stamp and I want to decorate a block of wood by applying the stamp over and over in a pattern across the surface. The ink doesn't change the wood's density or size. The stamp can be applied predictably in the same manner for the last repeat as the first repeat. Or think of a sticker applied to a piece of paper, or a wax-resist applied to batik fabric.

As digital quilters, we aren't just overlaying a design, we are embedding it into the top and through the layers of batting and backing...

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Fancy Feathers Digital Quilting Pantograph

 

This design called Fancy Feathers is a digital pantograph design that was released to Longarm League members in February 2020. Our designs are not exclusive to members, though. Anyone can buy our pantographs from our shop

 

My story as a longarm quilter began by operating a non-digitized APQS machine. I was able to apply the quilting motifs I had practiced so hard to master on my domestic sewing machine by "translating" them to free-motion quilting on a longarm. This feather design came about from yet again "translating" the fmq design to a digital, repeatable pantograph. 

I really wanted to make the rows as invisible as possible, and so I created diamond-like repeats. This means that when setting up the design digitally, every other row needs to be offset at 50% and then nested closely so the gaps aren't too obvious.

I think the multidirectional feathers help disguise the repeats and the rows. The dynamic feathers—some are big...

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