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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Tweak Function for Intelliquilter

 

In this demonstration, we'll talk about the Tweak function for Intelliquilter. Tweak is perfect for expanding or contracting a pantograph to fit a space. I tend to use this for dense pantograph designs or ones that need to match up precisely. 

The digital pantograph design I'm using in the video is called Fancy Feathers. I thought this one would be a good example to use for demonstration purposes because it's a dense design and it requires every other row to be offset at 50%.  When I first started learning how to use the Tweak function, I could not figure out how to make it work when the rows required offsetting! So, what I'm saying is that if you learn it this way, the steps for using Tweak will be even more straightforward when working with a digital pantograph that requires no offsetting. :) 

Before we even start stitching, let's talk about the initial setup of the quilt in IQ.

I select Pantograph and then Enter Rectangle...

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Preview of the Longarm League's Group Call with Jenae Alves of Vintage Stitch by Jenae

 

'Business Builders' are members that have already started their longarm quilting business but are looking for ways to optimize their systems or grow their client base.

On the third Wednesday of each month, our Business Builders meet for a Group Call. We meet via Zoom so that it's interactive, but then we also record the calls so that anyone who is unable to attend the live meeting can watch later. Anyone who joins the Longarm League at the Business Builder level can access our whole library of previously published lessons and recorded calls. 

Today was our one year anniversary of adding the Group Call feature. In the last year, we've covered the following topics:

  • easing the fullness of a quilt
  • additional income streams
  • cloud-based accounting
  • Profit First
  • creating a brand
  • collaborating with designers
  • search engine optimization (SEO) for beginners
  • small business taxes
  • running multiple longarm machines
  • common Instagram mistakes
  • Sew Tites Magnum magnets...
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Tips for posting videos to Instagram with Jenae Alves

 

In the Longarm League membership, we published an interview with Jenae Alves of Vintage Stitch by Jenae

This was one of those times that as soon as we hung up, I couldn't wait to share the Zoom call with the membership because it was packed with lots of useful tidbits about business. Plus, it's just so interesting to hear how other quilters in our specialized, little realm  do things! 

Jenae has grown her reach on Instagram by over 10k followers in the last year! She attributes a lot of her growth to effectively using video on the platform.

Let's start by talking about setup, shall we? 


TIP #1:

It may surprise you to learn that in order to record a video of her longarm stitching a digital pantograph, she simply holds her iPhone in her hands as steadily as possible. How is that for a low-tech solution? I love the simplicity! 


 
 
 
View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Jenae Alves | Longarm Quilter...

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Improve Efficiency with an Intake Form for Your Longarm Quilting Business

Having a thorough quilting intake form can cut down on a lot of back and forth communication with your client, making the process clear for both parties and your workflow more efficient.

I found that whether I was serving a neighbor from across the street or a mail-in client I'd never met, it was easier for me to stay organized to direct all requests through the same channel -- the "Book A Quilt" form on my website.

Having an online quilting form on my website made it really easy to send people a link to my form through direct messages on Instagram. This happened too many times to count! You could also link your "Book A Quilt" page in your Instagram bio link for direct access or include it as one of many links with a Linktree service.

The page on which the form appears should have clear instructions for how to work with you. In my opinion, your whole website should serve to facilitate work flowing into your queue. Place a link to your "Book A...

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