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Starting and ending pantographs


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Hello. My compuquilter was just installed 2 weeks ago.

I have tried a few quilts using pantographs and have ended up with a few inches of space left on the bottom edge. I had to take off my quilt, add a leader and do another full pattern of which I only had needed a couple more inches. Makes me think I need to add an extra 2 feet of leader on all quilts just in case. Any ideas where I went wrong?

Did my quilt stretch? Should I have compensated somehow when I put in the quilt width and length? Any help would be appreciated....Debra

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This is part of the learning, measuring curve or a problem with indexing. I would bet anything this is. How much you "compensate" in entering your measurements depends on how you are loading your quilt, too. I float all my tops and usually come out pretty close if I am careful to measure and not use a cheap-o backing.

Good luck!

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Linda, thanks for your reply.

Do you partially float or fully float the top, along with your batting?

The patterns I tried were Dave Hudson\'s and they nest together , so the index was a negative.

I wondered if that was the problem with the calculations not working out right.

I also wanted to know if I needed to stretch my last 2 rows?

I am so used to doing a partial row at the end of quilts, when I did them without CQ....

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I have found that it is pretty easy to do a partial row using the restart function on CQ. When doing the last row, just stop when you start to run off the quilt, then go to restart and click on the point where it the pattern reenters the quilt and start again. It goes pretty quickly when you get the hang of it. That feature is especially helpful when you have a pattern that really nests like popcorn or some of Keryn Emmersons patterns, especially when you don\'t have a lot of extra fabric at the top or bottom.


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The surface of the quilt will change with quilting, especially dense quilting... but usually the surface area will "shrink", not stretch. Make sure you are not pulling your leader tension too tight. Sometimes I am also off from my initial measurements too, so here\'s what I do:

When I am about halfway through the quilt, I measure the quilt length left and see if I am on track. If I need to, I can "stretch" the height of the pattern to accomodate. I also recheck 2 rows from the bottom. You can usually stretch the pattern height up to about 10% without anyone really being able to tell by looking at the overall quilting (Of course this depends on the particular pattern). Check your last row to see if final adjustments are necessary. Does this make sense?;)

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Hi Debra,

There is another factor going on with repeatable designs that interlock. Often designers will send you an interlocking repeatable design and not embed a fixed index in the command file. Understanding fixed indexes is an important concept for the computerized quilter, and it’s one of the many reasons why I say that knowledge of digitizing makes you a better computerized quilter.

Our CQ’s can do all the math for us regarding an index that\'s appropriate for an interlocking design, but the digitizer has to program the index in the command file in order for that to happen. If you work with an interlocking repeatable design that does not have the index embedded in the cmd file, you play a roulette game from one quilt scenario to the next as you change the pattern height, quilted width and length. Soon you will realize that you are “stretching” designs a fair amount of the time to accommodate the quilted width and length. Every time you “stretch” you are distorting the design. I’m a purest about that as it isn’t necessary and in many cases does a disservice to both your customer and the designer of the pattern. Sometimes you’ll think you’ve stretched the design so very little that it looks just fine, but often while the larger design elements may look OK, the smaller elements have been altered too far and you really are not putting a good representation of the actual design on the quilt . . . . the rounded objects becoming football shaped happens too much.

The remedy is to understand the concept of a “Fixed Index”. This is a digitizing concept, as it’s the job of the designer and digitizer to consider it, however the computerized quilter can become educated too. You can learn to calculate this index yourself using AutoSketch, and edit the command file to insert an index when the digitizer/designer failed to. Then your quilting jobs will change, as you will not/rarely stretch designs. Depending on the design, you may run it off the top, bottom and sides of the quilt, and you’ll know in advance by how much. I tell my customers that their backing and batting must be 8” longer and wider than their top (4” extra on all sides). Using command files with fixed indexes embedded in the file for all interlocking repeatable designs and having the extra backing and batting, you won’t have to check and re-check remaining quilted length, and it would be rare to need to ever add extra leaders again.

Without you having to take full digitizing training, I can offer you a lesson on Fixed Indexes. There are several aspects to it, and it’s a visual concept, so I would use an online meeting service to teach you the skills and then give you written information and illustrations to make sure you understand how to do it yourself. Along with that, I’ll relate what you will do in AutoSketch, CQ’s conversion program, and when editing the command file, with the effect you’ll see in CompuQuilter’s program. You’ll know how to set up an E2E design and know the outcome in advance.

Warm Regards,

Suzanne Moreno, Digitizing Instructor

Author/publisher: “Digitizing with AutoSKetch for CompuQuilter”

Book and Lessons

Digi-Buddies and Creative CQ


Grants Pass, Oregon


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RE: Fixed Index - Oh Sue, that is very true!!

However, I almost always use fairly intricate pantographs that do not interlock- No particular reason why... just the ones I usually like don\'t. Back before I had my CQ, I would ONLY buy interlocking pantos to do manually, but the CQ makes all the "straight edge pantos" look so nice that I never really worry about the dreaded old "row" appearance anymore.

Thanks so much for posting this info!!

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Thanks everyone, those are all great suggestions. I will try another quilt tonight with those suggestions.

Suzanne, I plan to take your course. It sounds like I will understand patterns and digitizing a lot better.

I just wanted to try to understand some of the basics first.

Tina, Good info to think about when buying patterns. I do tend to look at the interlocking patterns and perhaps need to change my thinking/approach.

Joanne: I agree, it was easiest to freehand in those last few inches. Glad I had just the Millie first, without CQ, otherwise I wouldn\'t have the skills to do it!

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