Trace is a digital quilting design that's built for speed!
Do you ever get quilts that come through your studio for quilting with fabrics that are so busy that you know any quilting you do will barely show up?
Quilts with busy fabrics would be the perfect use-case for a quick pantograph like Trace.
You'll get a sense of loops and multidirectional curves, but it's meant for providing background texture and does not need to be the star of the show.
Through the design process, I thought these simple loopy shapes reminded me of practicing D'Nealion when I was in elementary school. Kids probably don't get this pleasure nowadays. ☺️
It's a common refrain by this point because it seems like I only finish projects while I'm at retreat! This quilt top is no different; I started and finished it while at the same retreat. It was super easy and lots of fun!
My friend Shelly of Ma Tante Quilting made a version of this same quilt pattern—Cake Dash by Emily Dennis of Quilty Love—out of a Reverie layer cake. At the time, I'd been keeping my eye out for ways I could use a layer cake I had and this was the perfect project! I usually don't buy layer cakes, but I couldn't resist this line by Gingiber called Words to Live By. This combo proved magical; it makes me so happy!
While I was at Stitch Supply in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, I picked up this backing (shown below) called a Cuddle Cut. It's a 2-yard cut of the 60" wide Cuddle fabric, so it really was the perfect size for the top, which finished at 48" x 56". It's the "hairiest" minky type fabric I've worked with to date, and it quilted up perfectly!
If you've never worked with a polyester minky product that stretches in all directions, the biggest thing to remember is not to stretch it by over-tightening it on your leaders. I've routinely worked with minky loaded both ways (selvage attached to the leaders and with the selvages perpendicular to the bars) and it'll quilt up nicely either way as long as it's not stretched. As you advance the quilt, make sure the quilt sandwich is more loosey-goosey on the frame than you'd ordinarily keep it. It doesn't need to sag, it just shouldn't have much tension on it.
Another very handy tip to keep in mind if you have influence at the buying stage of a project is to choose a backing color that won't contrast too much with the quilt top. Sometimes, a client will give you the materials they've already purchased and that limits us as longarm quilters. But, if it's your own project or you can guide a client before they give you their backing, the color of the backing can make a difference if the fibers from the backing migrate back up through the stitch holes and are visible on the top of the quilt. If you have a low contrast color on the back, you won't even notice it if you get some pop-ups. For this quilt, I used a size 3.5 needle and I barely saw so much as a tuft as I was quilting along!
A video of the stitch path appears at the top of this blog post.
Here are the sizing specifications for how I set up this design using my Intelliquilter (48" x 56" quilt size):
Row height: 2"
Pattern height: 3.509" (measurement from top to bottom of the repeat)
I initially quilted a few rows and then ended up ripping it out. I liked it much better when the rows nested closely as shown in the photos and in the dimensions given here. I'd just caution against having too much space between the rows. It looked too sparse for my liking.
Here's a look at the included PDF:
If you use Trace on a quilt, we'd love for you to use the hashtag #tracepanto 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.
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