Angela Walters walks you through the three ways to machine quilt -- from pantographs to marking to freehand!

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"Hi I'm Linda at American Patchwork & Quilting and I'm here with Angela Walters; ambassador for Handi Quilter and we're going to talk a little bit about whether you choose to use a pantograph for your quilting, whether you mark your designs or whether you mark free hand and you've got some great tips for us on all those things. So let's start with a pantograph. Absolutely. Well when you first get your long arm it can be a little over whelming. You're not sure how the machine quilting process goes so a pantograph is a great first step, and this is what it looks like. Now of course it goes on the back of your machine and your trace along it with a laser which means you can get some really intricate designs easily on your quilts; so very good first step, but the limitation is and I think you might have been getting ready to say is you can't see what's going on with your quilt so if you're working with a quilt that has some issues, which I'm sure yours don't but mine would like uneven seams or something like that you can't handle those from the back so for myself I like to work from the front of the machine. But that can seem really overwhelming to some people because they don't have that tracing to go with but that's what a good next step would be marking out the designs and that's what I have to show you on the next quilt. So let's say you looking at your quilt and you want to add a nice element like a nice big feather like I've done here but you're not confident enough to do it on your own, well go ahead and mark it out. And what I have and what I use for my marking just a simple basic water soluble marker by Dritz, I know there's a lot of great products on the market, new products but I like to stick with what I've always used, it's never let me down, right. So when you're starting what you could do is if you wanted you could mark out each part of this element and then quilt along it so that's your guideline. Now I would encourage you once you feel c comfortable with this design maybe just marking out the steam and then free handing the feathers- try using this more as a temporary crutch not so much as something you want to use every time because then if you mark it and then remove it and then if you miss a line anyway then your frustrated all over again so maybe just marking out part of it. But one thing I like to stay instead of worrying about perfection focus more on symmetry and the next quilt I have shows you exactly that. That's great. So one thing I like to do is I love to quilt my quilts to death, of course I like quilting and here I've done some intricate stuff but I actually don't mark much of my quilting at all, if any, I freehand it all and I think if you look really closely you would see that it's not necessarily perfect but it is symmetrical. So instead of focusing on the perfection of your quilting designs, aim for symmetry; now what I mean by that is here I have this motif here and so where this swirl comes out I'm going to do the same on the other side, oh, now if you look at the individual swirls there not the same size but it gives that look of perfection because it's symmetrical. So I have one swirl here, I have the other one over here so I'm focusing less on the perfection and more on the symmetry. That takes a lot of pressure off. It does and I think our eyes see perfection in other people's quilting we just need to see perfection in our own, right. Have to work on that, that's for sure. So let's say this is the area of your quilt that you're wanting to quilt something, and what I would do instead of marking the whole thing is maybe just mark the center of your motif and then just one side of it, so let's say you want the swirl to come out like this. Now this isn't a road map this is more of a guideline it's a suggestion so don't feel like you have to keep it on the line every time, you just kind of what to use that to see how far you want to go out, so I'm going to start in the center here and then quilt here up to the top and of course let me trim this thread don't want to get caught up in those things alright so let's quilt it. So I have my mark here and I'm going to go ahead and quilt my swirl; let's say you want to go ahead and echo it a couple times because I want to add a little bit more to it. Tuck it in here. Now just now I want to do the same thing just on the other side, so I want that swirl to come out and face the same direction and I want to bring it back and since I echoed that one a couple times I'm going to echo this one the same way. Now this is a really basic example you could do a lot of stuff even into the center, now I'm just playing around. Now when you're done you get something that looks symmetrical but it's not perfect, this one comes out further than the other, but who's going to notice when you quilt is finished. It's an easy way to get nice looking quilting with very little marking. I love that because I don't want to spend my time marking it, I want to spend my time quilting it. Absolutely. Thank you so much for these great tips, I really appreciate the ideas you provided as to how to mark when I need to and how to just wing it when we don't. We hope that whether you choose to quilt with a pantograph, or free hand or doing a little bit of marking here that you can conquer your next project with ease.