Beginning Quilting

Know Before You Sew

December 16, 2023


This is a tip for all you pantograph quilters out there. Wouldn’t it be great to know before you sew? That is, to see what a panto design will look like on your quilt before you stitch it out. No seam ripper required (if it turns out to be not what you wanted)! This is a way to audition pantographs on your quilt top so you can be sure you’ll end up with the look you want.


  • pantograph
  • Quilter’s Preview Paper
  • Sharpie marker
  • quilt top
  • alcohol wipe

How to


Start with your pantograph

Winter White pantograph by Dave Hudson copyright 2003

Side note:  Those two blue things at either end are pieces of acrylic. I use them to hold my pantographs flat and still while quilting. The fact that they are see-through is a plus. I can use a marker to mark the ends of my quilt top, any altered path at the end of the rows, etc.


Take your Quilter’s Preview Paper (ask for this at your local quilt shop or order online through Handi Quilter).

And a Sharpie marker.

Be careful with a Sharpie permanent marker around quilt tops (or any fabric) It is almost impossible to remove if you accidentally mark your fabric.

Place the Preview Paper on top of your panto and trace the pattern with the Sharpie. This job also gives you practice in the stitching path. You’ll be better at quilting this design because you traced the path! Muscle memory is important for good quilting. Read about it here.


Trace as much as you think you’ll need to get a good idea about scale and proportion and the general feel of the design as it relates to the piecing, fabrics and tone.



Remove the pantograph and place the Preview Paper on top of your quilt top.

Move the Preview Paper around to different areas of the quilt.


Now comes the hard part. Make a decision, Yay or Nay.

When you are finished you can cut the Preview Paper from the roll and keep it with the pantograph to audition again. Or you can remove the Sharpie marks with an alcohol wipe (or rubbing alcohol on a paper towel). You will be able to use the Preview Paper over and over again.

Pro-tip: If you plan to remove the marks when you’re finished you could use a dry-erase marker to trace. Dry erase can be removed with a scrap of batting. But, if you use dry-erase, you need to be UBER-careful to not let the fabric touch the dry-erase lines. Dry-erase ink is permanent on fabric. Don’t ask me how I know, I might start to cry. It is much safer to use a Sharpie, and it comes off very easily with alcohol.

It really helps to know before you sew.

Quilt Every Day!

by Mary Beth Krapil


Written by

December 16th, 2023

This is a tip for all you pantograph quilters out there. Wouldn’t it be great to know before you sew? That is, to see what a panto design will look […]

4 responses to “Know Before You Sew”

    • I would want to test it and make sure that the marks do not rub off when in contact with fabric. But it’s a great idea! If you accidentally get some on your fabric, I understand that washable markers will wash out, although I do not have any personal experience with them.

  1. You could also use just a regular ball point pen. If you get it on fabric, spray with hairspray and then wash.
    Try it the next time you get pen on your jeans!

    • Thanks Kathy! I thought that might be a good suggestion, so I gave it a try. Ballpoint pen doesn’t write consistently on the plastic preview paper.

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