As happens so often in quilting (and in life,) it took longer to decide what to do than to do it. Once I’d honed in on the idea of using a pantograph and chose one, I still had to convince myself I could pull it off. The tricky part seemed to be how to advance the pattern and begin another pass, interlocking the pattern with itself. I’ve seen it done badly, creating stripes of pattern where there should be none.
As it turned out, it was pretty simple. I quickly got used to driving the machine from behind. A little music helped me shift into a dancing rhythm, keeping me light on my feet. That’s more important than you might think. You should keep your knees slightly bent, not locked, so you can move with the machine. And it’s important to keep your back straight and your shoulders relaxed to stay pain-free.
Method: The pantograph worked fine. I like designing my own stitching pattern better, but this allowed me to add consistent texture across the quilt surface.
Tension: I hadn’t used the longarm since May, when I put everything away and locked the machine down before our son’s commissioning. When I threaded it, the top tension seemed quite tight. Taking a deep breath, I cranked it a turn or more looser, knowing I’d need to adjust it. I always check for adjustments when I baste the top down and did this time as well. The tension turned out fine, and after the first go, I didn’t adjust it again.
Batting: This was the second time I used wool batting, and I don’t love it. It quilted easily; it’s soft and lightweight. But it has very springy loft, reminding me more of cheap higher-loft polyester for the amount of stitch definition. It’s a personal preference, but my preference is for a somewhat flatter look. Still, with as dense as the piecing is, creating a heavy top, I may appreciate having the lighter weight.
Thread color: Jim helped me picked a golden tan, which disappeared on the back and does not intrude on the front.
Overall I’m happy with it.
Next week I’ll work on the binding. What color do you think I should use? I have lavender, plum, and pink to choose from.