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Box Tie and Box Tie Extended-Width Design | Multiple digital formats bundled together



With the Box Tie design, I'm bundling file formats as I've never done before. So, if you received this as part of your membership or as part of the Digital Panto Club or purchased from our shop, please read carefully to find out what is included.

Box Tie is a design consisting of alternately situated hourglass shapes. Horizontal and then vertical, back to horizontal and then vertical.

I don't know what I was thinking when I named it. Instead of Bow Tie, I picked Box Tie as I was in the design process and then... never changed it. I'm not proud of this 🫠 - I usually change the name to something more memorable.

But here's what I want YOU to remember about this design.

It acts as a "cheater" cross-hatching design.

Cross-hatching is notoriously difficult to execute as a longarm quilter, mostly because every row has to touch the row above and below it to make it look continuous. We try to make it look as though we marked every line on the quilt top ahead of time and used rulers to get a flawless finish.

In real life, it would be exhaustively tedious and time-consuming to get perfect cross-hatching.

Since we have "cheater" baptist fan designs that are easier to execute and available to us as computerized quilters, I thought we should have one for cross-hatching, too.

The cheater component comes into play by adding space between each hourglass shape side-by-side, which makes it look uniform when we build in a gap between rows vertically. Having some space integrated into the design means the components are not supposed to touch. It won't be obvious if the alignment is slightly off as you progress through the quilt.

When you look at the quilting once it's off the frame, it's reminiscent of cross-hatching without all of the hard work!


The Quilt Pattern and Fabric

This pattern is called Joyful Stars by Cotton and Joy. I've said this a thousand times - star quilts are my favorite! 

This quilt pattern was so fast to put together. I love the floating star in the center of each block that really doesn't have to match any outer points.

I bought a 10" square pack of these Robert Kaufman solid blue fabrics a long time ago and thought they'd be perfect for this quilt. I found they are still for sale here. I also had a bolt of the silver Kona fabric that I used for the star, sashing, and border fabric, which is 100% why I picked it - I knew I had enough of it!

I bought the Cuddle Extra wide in royal blue from my friend Kristen at Mashe Modern to use as the backing.

A Special "Full-Baste" Loading Technique

The minky I purchased wasn't super straight off the bolt. This is a very common issue with wide-backs.

It's a good idea to buy extra Minky or other wide-backs so you have room to square up the sides, but I did not. I could have used a ruler and rotary cutter to trim this square before starting, which is something else I did not do. I was worried about trimming too much off because after my top was complete, I realized it how little extra fabric I had on the sides.

Instead, since I knew the selvage edge was straight, I pinned that edge to my canvas leader of the take-up bar. Because Minky is stretchy, I usually pin the non-selvage edge to the top so that when I'm advancing the quilt, it remains a bit more rigid on the sides, helping me to avoid overstretching. 

As I carefully rolled the backing fabric onto the take-up bar and then back on the belly bar, I could see the croissant 🥐 (Shelly's term! 😂) that formed at the edge, highlighting the fact that the cut edges were not parallel. Again, this was okay with me because I didn't want to take the time to trim before loading.

But, knowing width of the backing was going to be tight fit, I decided to take the extra precaution of basting the whole top to the backing before I started quilting it.

After loading the backing, I added the batting, then pinned the bottom of the quilt top to the canvas of the top bar of my quilting frame.

Once I aligned the top edge of the quilt near the top of the backing, I stitched a running/basting stitch up the left side, across the top and then down the right side of the first quiltable area without advancing the quilt. This is part of my normal practice. The stitches are so close to the edge of the fabric that it gets covered by the binding. I do not remove this stitching once I'm done with the quilt. This stitching line secures the top in place and prevents the edges from flipping over during the quilting process (going off and on the edges of the quilt). 

But this time, instead of trimming my threads and starting to quilt the pantograph design, I stitched right-to-left across the quilt top close to the belly bar to secure that section of the quilt. This basting stitch anchors all layers (backing, batting and top) together and helps the whole quilt sandwich advance consistently. (I removed the basting stitches across the top before I started with the pantograph design.) Remember, this is all in service of "previewing" the way the quilt would land on the backing, ensuring I would have adequate backing throughout the length of the quilt.

Then, I advanced to the next quiltable area of the quilt top and stitched from the left edge down the side, across the quilt near the belly bar, and then up the right edge of the quilt. Again, the only stitches I removed before quilting were through the middle of the quilt. I left the basting stitches around the perimeter of the quilt in place since it all would get covered by binding.

I continued in this manner until I reached the bottom of the quilt. I basted the last sides and bottom down. I breathed a sigh of relief that the backing was going to be big enough the whole way through, and then I rolled the layers onto the belly bar until the top of the quilt was in place, ready for the first pass of actual quilting!

Some folks load this way each and every time. I've referred people to this video called Loading Lori's Way so many times over the years! I know my friend Tia Curtis loads this way the majority of the time, too.

If you've ever known the agony of quilting a quilt and having a backing come up too short, full-basting would have saved your bacon. Or if you are trying to align special elements of the backing with elements of a quilt top, basting the full quilt gives you a preview of where to expect those elements to align, even if that's in the middle of a quilt lengthwise. When you get to the end of the quilting during the basting process, you can cut off the extra batting and roll all the layers onto the belly bar so that you don't have any batting or quilt top hanging down. That feels nice and tidy. ✨

I don't have a basting function on my longarm and when I go fast on a low stitch-per-inch setting, I have too much shifting that occurs. Needle-up and needle-down are what's most effective for me, and that's pretty tedious. That's one reason why I only pull out this technique for special circumstances.

I don't like the little holes left behind by the basting stitches, so I gave them a mist of plain water and agitated the holes (you can use a soft toothbrush for this) to close them up after the quilting was complete.

The Quilting Particulars of Box Tie

What makes this bundle unique is that I have a "regular" edge-to-edge design that includes backtracking. You can see that stitch path at the very beginning of the video above. It's called Box Tie (just) in the zip file. When I tested this design out, I kept the row size pretty small so that the backtracking didn't have very far to travel. You can see the sizes I used on the included PDF (preview below). The smaller stitch-out is shown in the plain fabric on top of the blue quilt below.

I also digitized Box Tie as an extended-width design to eliminate MOST of the backtracking. There are still little "connecting" bits of stitching between the X shapes that get over-stitched. Watch how that design stitches out in the second part of the video above. It's called Box Tie Extended-Width in the zip file. This is the file I used on the blue star quilt.

I also included another extended-width option to avoid right-to-left sewing. This is called Box Tie Extended-Width L to R.

If you haven't encountered extended-width designs before, please read this blog post for more information

When quilting the Box Tie Extended-Width file, I used the default sizing, which is 5.6" per row*. The stagger between rows is already built-in, so you don't have to use any offset with this file option.

*row in this context is one repeat made up of 2 lines of the box shapes.

EXTENDED-WIDTH OPTION - Here are the sizing specifications for how I set up this quilt using my Intelliquilter (blue quilt 66" x 66" size):

Row height: 5.6"
Gap: 0" 
Pattern height: 5.6" (measurement from top to bottom of the repeat)
Offset: none
Backtracking: minimal

STANDARD E2E OPTION - Here are the sizing specifications for how I set up this sample quilt size using my Intelliquilter (light tan quilt shown above 32" x 33" quilt size):

Row height: 2"
Gap: 0.182" 
Pattern height: 1.818" (measurement from top to bottom of the repeat)
Offset: 50%
Backtracking: some

Here's a look at the included PDF:

If you use Box Tie on a quilt, we'd love for you to use the hashtag #boxtiepanto and tag @longarmleague on Instagram so we can see how you use it! You can also visit our full digital design shop to take a look at all our previous designs.

Interested in getting new digital pantograph designs like this one on the day they're released (and at a deep discount)? Sign up for our Digital Panto Club and get them delivered straight to your inbox on the first Wednesday of each new month.


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