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Pictograms – A History



Jungle Pictogram

Pictorial patterns offer an additional focus. They provide a secret ingredient to the quilt. Visible only as the viewer steps closer “for a better look.”

       Large whole cloth patterns that unfold or unroll were the originals in this area. They often contain flowery medallions or subject specific motifs or even figures (eg. angels) that are to be centered on the quilt.  Generally custom work surrounds the central motif.  They give a large image for focus and are generally used on solid fabric quilts, hence the term “Whole Cloth.”

But what about the name “Pictogram?”  What we designed weren’t simple repeating Pantos!  So what were they? As I researched for a name I noticed “pantographs,” as quilters knew them, weren’t the device that architects had used for a couple of centuries.  However, the longarm machine did have close similarities to that original wooden device.  So, I explored other terms related to the reproduction of pictures.  In doing so I began looking at other techniques, even cave drawings. You’ll recall how many cave paintings depicted a whole story, the riders, the buffalo, the arrows, etc. It was there I came upon the term Pictogram.  Should that be our choice for a name? I even polled my customers and friends and finally decided upon this, a new to quilting, term — Pictogram.

       Angela developed a pseudo-interlocking format for this new category that we called Pictograms.  Although they were pictorial and “non-repeating,” and told a story as it were, they were still in roll format for easy handling. They weren’t the large, cumbersome whole-cloth patterns which had to be unfolded and traced onto the quilt. These could be unfurled down the length of the table on the longarm machine and traced with the laser light or stylus. The stitching could travel in a “continuous-line” across the whole quilt. These are patterns which paint a mural across the “canvas” of the quilt.

Quilts can be “Memory Filled.”

Pictorial patterns carry the viewer with them to the South Seas, or to the Farm or swimming with the Penguins.  They can remind us of our vacations around the world or of a weekend skiing.

       When I was a child, our family built a desert cabin in the high desert of California. The boulders of Rattlesnake Hill were my playground.  Later as a college student I went with friends to explore rock formations of several western states.   I was at home on the desert rocks.  Recently when someone suggested I do a Southwest pattern I leaped right in.  It was fun remembering climbing on boulders, feeling the wind and chasing the jackrabbits.  Of course, there were plenty of giant Joshua trees and snakes, too. The adventure turned my thoughts to the fun times of my childhood. I drew all those memories into my “Southwest Vistas” pattern.  “Campout” and “Backwoods” are two other patterns that take me back to those happy-go-lucky days.  Didn’t you ever go camping as a child? Did your Dad make you sit in the boat for hours to catch fish?  With book in hand, it seemed like forever. That was tedious, but it’s fun to remember now. Re-discover such memories when you stitch pictorial patterns on your quilt!

When you care enough to send the best, give your gifts added appeal.

       Theme specific patterns are great for gifts.  They make it more fun for children, husbands and special friends with whom we have shared experiences.

                A few years ago I made quilts for several of my Grandchildren.  The piecing was of a variety of methods; Stack n’ Whack with tigers, Peaky and Spike fish in bright colors, and traditional 30’s Cat’s Cradle blocks with Prairie Points. They were fun piecing and as I sewed I planned how each would be quilted with Pictograms.  The fish quilts were covered with the tropical fish of “Fishy Business;” the spinning tigers with “Jungle” foliage and animals; and the cat’s cradle with “Kitty Cats” playing through the maze and highly visible in the setting squares of the piecing.  When these quilts arrived at my Grandchildren’s homes, they were gleefully spread across the floor where the children lay playing, “I spy,” with the stitching. The quilts are equally interesting when Mom makes the beds with the back side up, so they can enjoy the stitching to its fullest effect. (Wear n’ tear is lessened too!) I had achieved my goal.  My quilts and gifts of love were truly loved in return.

                Although this type of machine quilting is ideal for children, it is not only for the young.  All of us enjoy memories such stitching designs can bring. Pet lovers will love images of their pets stitched over a quilt. We can remember New Orleans with images of the “French Quarter.”  Nautical designs bring our thoughts back to summers at the seaside, while cherries carry the remembered fragrance of summer orchards.  Pumpkins and pinecones, jungle bells and wedding bells, all have a place in our specialty, and sometimes even prize-winning, quilts!  Helen Baczynski’s first-place quilt “Turning Twenty Again on Halloween,” was quilted with a Pictogram –“Pumpkin Patch.” 

       While my husband was in the military, we lived in Southeast Asia and made many friends there.  A few years ago when my husband went back to visit, a friend sent me some beautiful presents.  I wondered, “How could I ever send something that would be cherished?”  Then I hit upon the idea of making a special quilt.  I have some puppets from Indonesia – Wayang Golek (wooden puppets) and decided to draw them and the story they portray, the Ramayana, into the design.  As I sat at my drawing table I remembered our home in Malaysia; the sights and smells of the marketplace, the monkeys that sat on our shoulders in the parks and the wonderful friends I had there.  Making the quilt and the pattern became a gift not only to my friend, but to me as well.  The next year this pattern was very creatively used by Bonnie Bosma to quilt an amazing batik vest, “Indonesian Inspiration.” 

       Last year another friend told me of a touching experience with her quilt guild.  The National Guard from their hometown was being deployed to Iraq.  Of course, they wanted to send quilts with them.  After asking permission, they were told the quilts would need to be “sand-colored” and of a specific size.  Unable to decorate with vibrant colors, many of the members quilted up their sandy quilts with my “America’s Pride Pictogram.”  I was thrilled to imagine images of the Statue of Liberty, the Golden Gate Bridge, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln as well as other symbols of the Land of Liberty warming these brave soldiers with memories of home. 

       How about the man in your life.?  He might feel a quilt was definitely made with him in mind when the pieces are laced together with images of “manly” interests like golfing, camping, hunting, fishing, dragons or cars.  My son loves cars!  Not a day went by that he was not telling me this and that about driving systems, historic models, etc., sharing his interest with me.  One day the pictures he was showing me, clicked.  I started drawing cars, all the time thinking of him.  I should call it my “Joe” pattern. Those “Classic Cars” became another prize-winning quilt for Helen Baczynski, “Sunday Drivers in the Land of OZ”

       When a car lover receives a quilt like this, he knows it was made for him!

Expanding your theme adds new dimension.

       These days quilting Pantographs and Pictograms are available in so many varieties that they needn’t be relegated to the edge-to-edge category.  A myriad of borders, sashings, blocks, etc. open the door to amazing framed Theme Quilts. With a Pictogram or medallion in the center, compatible border designs can parade around a quilt to create a well unified masterpiece. 

       Recently, I wanted to make a special quilt with New England in mind.  I always think of the Nor’easters that plague that part of the country as being typical.  They seem somehow romantic!  (Really, wouldn’t it be great to be snowed-in so you had nothing to do but quilt?  No electricity?  That’s why I keep my old treadle sewing machine!)  So, I drew a “Nor’easter” pattern with frothy seas, boats and docks and even a one-horse sleigh braving the storm.  It was fun looking at lighthouses and a friend in New England told me Portland light was the proper icon. 

       Angela quilted all this over a bargello sea topped with crashing white waves.  The quilt would need borders too, so she stitched whales swimming around the inner border and a “Salty Seas” rope with lobsters, anchors and lanterns encircling all, in the quilt’s outer border. 

       Planning a Theme quilt is challenging, creative, and fun.  Patterns must be chosen that compliment each other and carry out the theme. There are plenty of these available.  You may find one piece of your master plan on one website and the next on another.  Feel free to mix and match! (Shopping, yippee!) Yes, there are adjustments to be made. Pieces of the pattern might have to be omitted or added to enable it to fit your quilt.   Borders must be centered and sometimes motifs must be separated out of a pattern to be used in a corner block.

Does it all have to be a “Theme?” 

Suppose your quilt top is made up of Log Cabin blocks or any of a thousand standard block designs,  Well, Decorate the Quilt you have with unique Pictogram stitching.

       I don’t mean to infer that all these ideas should be only stitched over solid “Whole Cloth.”  I love placing amazing stitching over interesting and theme-specific pieced fabrics. I can’t give up that part of my quilting fun.  I just add another layer of interest.

        Yes, one must be creative and skillful.  But the end result can be amazing.  The more effort you put into it, the greater the satisfaction! 

When my quilts are completed I re-open them to enjoy the designs over and over.  Don’t you love looking at something you’ve made, again and again? ( I hope I’m not the only one who goes back and unfolds a quilt, just to enjoy the finished masterpiece once more.)

       Explore the world of patterns, and I hope you’ll agree that using them can be creative and interesting. It’s fun quilting motifs that pop out to decorate and enhance. You can expand from the ease of edge-to-edge into the fascinating assortment of non-repeating patterns and theme quilts. As for feeling comfortable on the other side of the machine—It just takes a little practice!

So oil up that machine, and add another layer of interest to your quilts.

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Can You Stretch Panels for digital Judy Lyon Pictograms

Can you adjust the length of  MeadowLyon’s (Judy Lyon) Digital Pictogram panels? Yes, but consider the appearance of the   images.  To help in your decision here are some adjusted pictures showing how 3 patterns; “Rainforest,”  “Fishy business,”  & “Backwoods” would look if the panels were shrunk (shortened) or lengthened to fit a quilt.  In your case the change may not be as drastic depending on your needs. Of course enlarging or decreasing, while keeping the ratio the same will not change the shape of the images but only decrease or expand their size.  It’s also important to consider the “tightness” of your stitching. In a perfect world, none of these adjustments would have to made. But, let’s face it, every quilt is not planned to fit the stitching!
Note that the original paper size of most MeadowLyon’s Pictograms is 11″x 36″. The digital size is set at 12″ x 39.1″.

Judy Lyon Digital Pictograms (non-repeating pantos) are currently sold by these distributors: and
Find the link to their sites on MeadowLyon’s homepage.
Rainforest in it’s original is a busy jungle of tropical plants and animals. See more images on our “Rainforest” product listing.
This is pretty tight. But maybe you only need to decrease it to 90% in order to fit your quilt.
The stretched image may be acceptable. Of course, you will choose how far you may want to go.
Fishy business in the original proportions is a “full” pattern. See more pictures for reference here.
The stitching in this image is a bit tight. Hopefully you won’t feel like you have to go this far!
Here the stitching is loosened and I think the fish images are “all right.”
Backwoods as drawn is well proportioned. See more pictures showing it here.
This is how it would look shrunk to 75%. How far do you think you might need to change the length? And would it be acceptable based on these images?
Here the animals are noticeably “fattened,” but it may not be jarring stitched on a quilt.
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How to Toplique

All About Topliqué


Now it’s time to decide on which method you’ll want to follow for applying the Topliqué.
Maybe you love to relax doing hand appliqué or maybe that’s too slow for your time allotment.

Hand Topliqué;  Used on Chinese Pandas.

Let’s talk a little about the “How To” of Angela’s method. After quilting your quilt with the design
you’ve chosen, pick out an animal, flower or motif to highlight with topliqué. Simply place a piece of tracing
paper over the stitched image on the quilt and trace it with a pencil. If there is a break in the stitched outline,
you’ll need to estimate where the line would go as if it were a coloring book picture. (Do not trace over the
pantograph pattern itself, because you may have inadvertently varied the line a bit when quilting it. At least I go
off the line a little, or a lot, at times, but you’re probably more perfect in quilting than I am.)

Lay the tracing pencil-side up, on the paper side of freezer paper, pin together, and cut both papers on
the line you have drawn. Discard the tracing paper copy.

Iron the freezer paper copy onto the right side of your appliqué fabric. Cut around the pattern leaving at
least 3/8 inch border. (Note: This is different than traditional freezer paper appliqué in which the freezer paper is
pressed onto the back of the appliqué fabric.)

Now pin the fabric with the paper on top into position over the stitched image. With the freezer paper on
top the fabric is stiffened and the edge can be turned under and appliquéd in place right on the quilted line. At
times you will need to clip corners as you come to them. Because you’ve allowed 3/8” you should have enough to
adjust for fullness in the quilt or stretching of the fabric, etc. Of course you can trim the margin narrower, but only
a little at a time as you go. The “puff” of the quilt may take more to cover than you’ve expected. Sadly, I’ve had
the experience of trimming the edge and then finding I didn’t have enough to cover! Sob and double sob! I had
to pick out and redo one of the Pandas because of that.

Paper won’t be trapped underneath the appliqué. Simply pull the freezer paper off the top when finished.

Machine Topliqué: Used on my Pumpkin Patch Quilt

For years my hands have had a lot of heavy use. They’ve ached from holding the needle or practicing the
piano. The skin has cracked from calluses or harsh chemicals or in younger days, before the insult of backaches,
even gardening. They’ve suffered from paper cuts and thread cuts and finally been assaulted by carpal tunnel
rebellion! As a result, I’m not always keen on hand appliqué.

If you have similar issues, try the machine method. Cut a good sized swatch of the chosen appliqué fabric
and lay it over the motif, thoroughly covering the area of the desired appliqué. Pin it into place around the outer
edge or spray baste with any of the wonderful adhesives on the market. Next, from the back of the quilt, use your
sewing machine to sew with a fine stitch exactly on the original stitching line of the pantograph. (For this
stitching use either the same color thread as used in the quilting or with invisible thread.)

Turn to the front and carefully trim off the excess close to the stitching line. Now, from the front, go over the
line once again with a small satin stitch or blanket stitch.

I used this method on the large Pumpkin Kaleidoscope quilt. (No, not all my quilts are about pumpkins
and cats although I do like bright colors.) I chose images I liked in the border and in the center of the quilt I
added bright splashes of contrasting color on the already bright quilt. Black and white is always an attention
getter. This quilt had the added fun of the satin stitched images decorating the back.  Kids love this. If you don’t want that to show, you’ll have to have a busy backing. Some quilters choose such backings anyway to hide all
manner of sins.

Easier Still:  Used on Turtle Reef

Quilt your quilt with the design you choose.  Of course pictorial designs are my favorites for “Toplique.”   Cut a swatch of the applique fabric.  Press Wonder-Under, Heat-n-Bond,  or similar onto the wrong side.  Next, pin the fabric (right side up) over the image you’ve chosen. STOP – don’t iron it yet!   First turn the quilt over and with your sewing machine stitch through the quilt, exactly on the quilting line of the image you’ve chosen.  There may be a few spots where the pantograph line does not join and you can “fake it.”

After sewing over the line turn the quilt over and carefully cut away the “now bondable fabric” just outside the stitching line.  Lay parchment paper over the image and press in place to “bond it.”  You’re done!!

The Fabric:

Almost any fabric will work, provided it’s not too loosely woven. Angelina film can also be fun to use, or
perhaps velveteen for a furry bunny on a child’s quilt. That will certainly become a favorite “feeling” spot for tiny
hands, so secure it well. Note: If using a sheer fabric for the appliqué, squeeze a fine bead of fabric glue along the
first stitching line before satin stitching over it to avoid fraying.

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Lining Up MeadowLyon Patterns on Intelliquilter

I do not have IQ so I can’t tell you in Intelliquilter terms, but Linda Lawson has a video about lining up my Pictogram Patterns and you will find some excellent tips in that video. You can see it on Longarm Chat.

Click on the title to read some  “nitty gritty” information that may help as you plan the layout on your screen.

Background information for Pictograms:
1.  Each panel was originally drawn at 11″ x 36.”  Depending on what size you are going to make it, you’ll need to adjust the following information accordingly.

2.  All our patterns have a 3″ registration system. That means, if you had the hard copy, you could slide each ensuing paper panel to the right or left in increments of 3″ ( eg. 6″, 9″, 12″ etc.) and they will still “fit” together.

3.  With this registration system the stitching line reaches up to the top line every 3 inches. (If it isn’t visible, imagine a line across the top).

4.  The stitching line reaches down to the bottom line every other 3 inches. (Imagine a line across the bottom.)

5.  MeadowLyon Pictograms are not designed to interlock, they just come up or down to the line.  It gives the effect of interlocking, but does not cross the line!

6.  Yes, you can put each panel right on top of itself and it will work.  But, you probably won’t want the panel to be placed exactly above itself or the animals and other motifs will be on top of themselves.

7.  I recommend choosing the second or third panel to begin the second row.  Make sure the “up” points fall between the “down” points. (You’ll probably put the second row on the    screen and simply move it to where it looks good and nothing touches where it shouldn’t.)

As you look at previews of our Pictograms on this website, you will see the ups and downs clearly. For example,  in the “Backwoods” pattern you’ll notice some mountain peaks, etc. that go up to the top line and see the spaces above them.  Then you’ll see feet of animals or etc. coming down to the bottom line and notice space beneath them on the next panel.  With each row simply slide the panels to where the peaks come up under a space or etc. But do not try to interlock, or cross the line.  It’s not necessary and may cause overlapping.

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A.  2 ROWS INTERLOCKING WITH STRAIGHT ROLL as printed on paper rolls

Alignment instructions:  IT’S AS EASY AS “1 – 2 – 3”

1. After completing the first two rows across, lower your needle into any “dot” #1.

Leaving the needle down, Advance (roll) the quilt into position for the next two rows across.

2. With the needle still down, adjust the laser light or stylus to the closest “dot” #2.

The light is now correctly placed.

3. Lift the needle and move the machine to a starting position of your choice at the edge of the quilt.

Begin quilting.

B.  2 ROWS WITH SOME LASER MOVEMENT as p[rinted or paper rolls such as El Dorado 4.5″, and El Dorado 8″

Alignment instructions:  IT’S AS EASY AS “1 – 2 – 3”

1. After completing the first two rows across, lower your needle into any “dot” #1.

Leaving the needle down, Advance (roll) the quilt into position for the next two rows across.

2. With the needle still down, adjust the laser light or stylus to the closest “dot” #2 towards the “left.”

The light is now correctly placed.  (For alternate rows move the laser to the #2 towards the right.

3. Lift the needle and move the machine to a starting position of your choice at the edge of the quilt.

Begin quilting.

Some laser lights have limited adjustment capabilities.  Some patterns may require shifting the paper pattern for proper alignment.

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A.  ONE ROW INTERLOCKING WITH STRAIGHT ROLL as printed on paper rolls for patterns  Grapes of Moldova, Russian Gold, etc.

Alignment instructions:  IT’S AS EASY AS “1 – 2 – 3”

1. After completing the first row across, lower your needle into any “dot” #1.

Leaving the needle down, Advance (roll) the quilt into position for the next row across.

2. With the needle still down, adjust the laser light or stylus to the closest “dot” #2.

The light is now correctly placed.

3. Lift the needle and move the machine to a starting position of your choice at the edge of the quilt.

Begin quilting.

B.   ONE ROW INTERLOCKING WITH SOME LASER MOVEMENT as printed on patterns such as Frothy Seas, El Dorado, etc.

Alignment instructions:  IT’S AS EASY AS “1 – 2 – 3”

1. After completing the first row across, lower your needle into any “dot” #1.

Leaving the needle down, Advance (roll) the quilt into position for the next row across.

2. With the needle still down, adjust the laser light or stylus to the closest “dot” #2 towards the “left.”

The light is now correctly placed.  (For alternate rows move the laser to the  #3 towards the right.

3. Lift needle and move machine to a starting position of your choice at the edge of the  quilt.

Begin quilting.

Some laser lights have limited adjustment capabilities.  Some patterns may require shifting the paper pattern for proper alignment.

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PICTOGRAM ALIGNMENT as printed on paper rolls

Aligning MeadowLyon Pictograms:

Congratulations!  You’ve purchased a “Pictogram” – MeadowLyon’s unique 12 ft. non-repeating roll.  You’ll have lots of pictorial material from which to choose.  Its four panels can be arranged to create a scene, of sorts, on a wall hanging or small quilt.  Also, extended rows can be repeated above or below to cover a quilt with Edge-to-Edge quilting.

We recommend starting alternate rows at the beginning of a different panel each time.  This will prevent the motifs from standing on top of themselves.  Of course you can start alternate rows wherever you like. Our registration system prevents upper and lower rows from touching when you slide the pattern in increments of 3 inches;  eg. 3”, 6”, 12” etc.

For accurate placement, align the bottom line* (or dots or corner points) to the previous top line.  You might do this by lowering the needle at the exact top right hand corner of the panel recently completed, then inserting a pin at that point.  Roll the quilt and after shifting the pattern and replacing the clamps, move your needle once again to that point and adjust the laser to the lower right corner of the new panel.

Caution: if you leave a space there will be a space – it’s best to match the lines with your laser, then slide the machine across the quilt to see if any stitching falls above the line and adjust slightly if needed.

* Note: If your pattern does not have a bottom and top line, you can draw it in by laying a yardstick along the lowest points (or highest) on the paper pattern and drawing a line to intersect with the dashed line at the end of the pattern.

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1.  EDGE TO EDGE PANTOGRAPH ALIGNMENT as printed on paper rolls

Aligning MeadowLyon Patterns:

This MeadowLyon continuous-line pattern can be repeated above or below itself to cover a quilt with Edge-to-Edge quilting.  We recommend starting alternate rows in a different spot and on many patterns have indicated the place we recommend on the bottom edge of the pattern.  This will prevent the animals (or motifs) from standing on top of themselves.  Of course you can start alternate rows wherever you like. Our registration system prevents upper and lower rows from touching when you slide the pattern in increments of 3 inches;  eg. 3”, 6”, 12” etc.

For accurate placement, align the bottom line* (or dots or corner points) to the previous top line.  You might do this by lowering the needle at the exact top right hand corner of the panel recently completed, then inserting a pin at that point.  Roll the quilt and after shifting the pattern and replacing the clamps, move your needle once again to that point and adjust the laser to the point recommended for alternate rows.

Caution: if you leave a space there will be a space – it’s best to match the lines with your laser, then slide the machine across the quilt to see if any stitching falls above the line and adjust slightly if needed.

* Note: If your pattern does not have a bottom and top line, you can draw it in by laying a yardstick along the lowest points (or highest) on the paper pattern and drawing a line to intersect with the dashed line at the end of the pattern.

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Tips for setting up a Floral Wholecloth Quilt…

…using Wedding Bell Swag, Floral Medallion, Rosebud Striped border. etc.  I’ve posted a Floral Wholecloth Layout with many of the floral patterns.  Reading through the following  directions (although specific for the three listed) will be helpful in planning your individualized quilt layout.

The following instructions come with the Floral Medallion pattern but they may be useful for setting up quilting for the Wedding Bell Swag with other combinations.

So you want to make a whole cloth quilt?

There are many options, so have fun mixing and matching.

Here are some pointers for completing an 80” sq. Wedding Bell Quilt as pictured on the Wedding Bell Swag posting.

Patterns needed:       Wedding Bell Swag Border

Rosebud Striped Border

Floral Medallion

You can make a 108” quilt by following the included diagram. The Additional Tips for quilting the swag will be helpful.

1.  The Wedding Bell Swag pattern prefers a 30” throat space.

(I have a 24” and although I finally got everything

joined-up piecemeal, it took time!  If you decide to try it,

be sure to quilt AROUND the corner’s edge as far as you can.)

2.  If necessary you can make the quilt slightly smaller or a few inches

larger by changing the length of the outer stripes.

3.  After loading the quilt start at either the top or the bottom.

I recommend Quilting across the entire end including both complete

corners.  The following method will maintain the “fit” of the stripes.

(You’ll need to cut the corner from the main pattern so you can

“attach” it to both ends.)

Additional Tips

A. First, starting at the corner, quilt the flowery, be-ribboned

Wedding Bell Swag halfway across.

B. Go back and quilt the stripes around the corner and under the swag

half-way across. (If you don’t want the stripes you could use


C.  Move the corner into position at the other end.

D. Quilt the flowery swag the rest of the way including the corner.

E. Now quilt the stripes the rest of the way and around the corner.

F. Place your needle at the inside corner of the swag and with a

wet-erase marker or a pin, put a dot on the quilt at that


Repeat at the other end.

4.  Align and stitch the Rosebud Border ¼” inside the swag. (Measure this

from the points that you marked.  The ¼” may vary with the stretch

of your fabric so adjust the Rosebud stripes so they come out even.

Move the corners in and tape or paper-clip in place.)

When stitching, I apply clamps on the track to stop the stripes evenly

at both the top and bottom, but it’s not necessary.  Machines love to

go straight!

5. Center the lower portion of the Floral Medallion with the inside of the

Rosebud Border.  (The pattern between corners should be

approx. 37 ¾”.)

It’s likely to have shrunk to about 37”.  The Floral Medallion

measures 36” square.  You’ll need to allow ½ ” all around it.

Therefore start ½ ” inside the inner corner of the Rosebud border.)

6.  Stitch across the first panel, then align the top corner point with the

lower corner of the next panel. Do not leave a space, but do move

the machine across and make sure high points do not extend

beyond the line of the pattern and adjust slightly if necessary.

7.  Continue by stitching center and upper panels.

8.  Allowing ½ ” space – align, center, and stitch the opposite Rosebud

Border (upside down).

9.  Allowing ¼” align, center and stitch the opposite Wedding Bell Swag

border, upside down, with corners attached.

You may find it necessary to reload the quilt and quilt it from the

opposite end if your batting is thick and minimizes the throat space.

As before, stitch half-way across, then go back and do the stripes.

Repeat the rest of the way across.

10.  Remove quilt and re-load to stitch the two sides.  You’ll have to

pull the clamps very tightly.

11. Align and stitch the Rosebud border.  (This will help to evenly

distribute the fullness which is inevitable.)

12. Align and stitch the Wedding Bell Swag pattern between the corners.

Again go half-way and then do the stripes, repeat.

13. Turn the quilt and repeat steps 11 and 12 for the borders on the

opposite side.

14. Finally roll the quilt to the middle section and, IF DESIRED,  apply a

fine stippling style of your choice between the flowers and ribbons of

the center medallion to create a “faux trapunto.”  You may also

apply the same stippling around the ribbons of the swag borders

rather than the stripes, if desired.

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Tips for Using MeadowLyon Block Designs

If you are transferring the designs to stitch on a home sewing machine or to embroider by hand you may find these methods helpful:

CENTERING – MeadowLyon Block Patterns have  “centering lines”  for easy placement.    I think the easiest way to find the center of a square is to draw lines with a disappearing marker or simply a length of thread, diagonally both ways,  from corner to corner.  Poke a pin through the center of the pattern into the center indicated on the fabric.  Using the “centering lines”,  measure* to assure they are parallel to the outer lines of the fabric “block.” ( * Of course I  “eyeball” it and you probably will too!)

TRACING – Place the paper pattern on a light box, an empty picture frame with glass, or a window.  Tape in place.  Next place the fabric over it and center it using the convenient centering cross-lines.  Tape in place.  Trace the design onto the fabric with  a.) a washable marker or washable fabric marker;  b.) a disappearing marker;  c.) tailor’s chalk pencil;  d.) a carbon leaded pencil that will wash out.  There are lots of great products on the market! You can even get a white Clover marker to use on dark fabrics.

TRANSFERRING BY CARBON – On a hard surface, place a transferring medium such as dressmaker’s carbon* or “Saral” carbons over the fabric.  Next place the paper pattern on top and trace over it with a ball point pen or stylus.  (* Personally I do not like the carbon that is purple.  It’s wet and smears all over!)

CREATE A STENCILOption A – Stitch through the paper pattern and after placing it on the fabric use a pounce pad to make through the “stencil.”  This is convenient if you need to transfer the same design many times.  Option B – Lay :” Bridal Tulle” over the pattern and trace with a fine line, permanent marker.  When you want to transfer the pattern, lay the Tulle over the fabric, pin in place,  and draw over the line with a chalk pencil.  The chalk line will go through the holes of the Tulle to the fabric.

TRANSFER PENCILS – The latest tool is a great one. The transfer pencil (made by Fons and Porters and other brands too) create an iron-on stencil just like the old embroidery transfers.  Simply turn the block pattern over, place it on a light box or window, and draw the line on the back of the block.  When you’ve finished you’ll be able the place the block (right side up) over your fabric and “iron on” the stitching line.

TEAR AWAY –  Option A – Trace the design from the pattern onto a tear away paper such as that sold through Golden Threads.  Adhere the tissue to your fabric with pins or spray adhesive.  Sew through the paper and tear away.  Option B – Lay “Press n’ Seal” plastic wrap over the paper pattern.  Trace the design onto the film with a washable marker*.  Stick the film to your fabric and stitch through it.  Tear away.  ( * Always test the marker in a trial run first.  Vis-a-vis markers for transparencies, Dry erase markers and permanent markers work well on the film, BUT, if you are using a long-arm machine, the heat of the needle may “set” vestiges of marker in your fabric.)


LONG-ARM MACHINE QUILTING – Of course you can place the pattern on the bed of your quilting machine table and follow the line with your laser or pointer.  If you’re working from the front of the machine, DeLoa Jones suggests you place the pattern on a cookie sheet and adjust the laser to the page.   You’ll still need to find the center of the block and direct your laser to that point.  Then you can move to one of the starting points on the continuous-line block pattern and begin stitching.

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A 4-Panel Wall-Hanging

These instructions are for the 4 cut-up panels, put into a wall-hanging.

I would suggest using a light colored fabric with as dark a thread as possible.


The pattern covers 36″ x 44″, so I cut the center area 37″ x 45″, and I use a 1/4″ seam allowance. I cut the borders 4 1/2″ wide.

Loading the quilt top:

I load the top right side up facing the pantograph side, so I’m quilting the bottom of the wall hanging first (4th panel). Before you load the quilt top onto the frame, it is wise to fold the right edge into fourths, and put a pin in the border at these 3 points. This is a reference to where the top of each panel should be.

Lining up the first panel:

1. For the first panel, put the needle at the lower right corner of the quilt, and put on the channel lock. Move the machine up and down the quilt, making sure needle will hit the center portion of the quilt, and not go back and forth onto the border. Adjust the channel lock, if needed. When it’s locked where you want it, place the needle back at the lower right corner of the quilt.

2. Place the pattern on the table, with the bottom reference line and right edge at the point where the stylus is. Put a little piece of tape there. Move the machine over 8″-12″ and with you left hand, move the pattern so that the reference line stays in line with the stylus. Hold the pattern down, move the machine back out of the way, and put a piece of tape at the top right edge of the pattern. I also like to put another piece in the center of the edge.

3. Now move the machine all the way down to the other edge, adjusting the pattern so the bottom reference line stays in line with the stylus. Put 3 pieces of tape at the left end. Then go back to the right end, and re-tape those pieces so it’s all flat.

4. Now take off the channel lock, and move the machine up to where the stylus meets the top reference line. Is the needle right next to the first pin in the border of the quilt? It should be. If it’s beyond that point, then your pattern will run into the border at the very top of the quilt. To fix it, you can try tightening the top a little. Another thing you can do is, as you quilt, don’t go clear to the top of the reference line each time it’s supposed to touch it. After 4 panels of this, you should be okay. The trick is to cut the inside of the quilt the right size, to use 1/4″ seam allowance, and to not use too fat of batting. If the needle falls short, and there’s extra space, you can do a couple of things. 1. move the stylus so there’s a little space at the bottom, and not so much at the top (of this one panel), and 2. As you quilt, exaggerate the top points that touch the reference line along the top, going beyond it. Then when you line up the next panel, it will up a little farther.

5. There’s one more thing to look at. Move the machine all the way down and put the stylus at the end of the pattern. Look at where the needle falls on the quilt. It should be near the seam. You can adjust the edges just like you did the top. If there’s a bunch of space there, you don’t want your whole quilt to be leaning near the right, with an un-quilted space along the left. In this case, I usually just move the machine to where the needle is at the edge of the quilt. Looking at the pattern, if the stylus has gone 1/2″ beyond the edge of the pattern, I move it back towards the patterns by 1/4″. So the compromise will cause it to be more centered. If it goes beyond the edge of the quilt, you can tighten your clamps to stretch it a little, or remember to fall short when you get to that end as you’re quilting.

6. This step is EXTREMELY important. Before you begin sewing, following the pattern with you finger, from start to finish, so you’ll be a little familiar with it before you actually quilt it. DO NOT FORGET THIS STEP. Trust me, I know.

Lining up successive panels:

1. Put the needle at the top edge of the area that’s already quilted and put on the channel lock. If you move the machine up and down the rails, the stylus should hit all the uppermost spots you’ve already quilted. You can adjust the channel lock until it does this.

2. With the channel lock on, move the machine down to the right end and put it at the far most right point (that’s already quilted). Now you have located the top and the right of the already-quilted section (panel 4).

3. Take your pattern and line up the reference line at the bottom, and the right edge with where the stylus is pointing. Put a little piece of tape here. Do not tape the rest of the right edge yet.

4. Move the machine (channel lock is still on) about 8″-12″ to the left, moving the pattern so that the reference line stays in line with the stylus. Move the machine back, and now you can tape the top right edge. I also put a little piece of tape in the middle.

5. Move the machine to the other end of the pattern, making sure the reference line stays in line with the stylus. When you get to the end, tape the top, bottom, and center of the left edge.

6. Now go back and re-adjust the 3 tapes on the other end. You should be ready to quilt.

7. When I’m all done quilting the inside of the quilt, I go back and stitch-in-the-ditch all around the edge of the inside. This gives it a nice, clean finish.

Clear as mud? If you need more help, give me a yell.

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Loading the APQS Ultimate I Quilting Machine

This method is a compilation of things I have learned from others, adapted to my own style for what works for me. I hope it will work for you too. I am not associated in any way with APQS (American Professional Quilting Systems) except that I bought my machine from them, and I like it.

You may want to print this and have it next to the machine while you work. Just out of curiosity, I’d like to know if it has helped you, so if you get time, I’d love it if you’d shoot off a quick e-mail to let me know if this has been any help. Thanks. [email protected]


Measure the lining, top, and batting, and decide which way you want each to go with each one. Write these numbers down!

You need at least one straight edge on the lining. You can find out how to do this by asking other quilters, writing me, or at the beginning or end of some magazines, they have pictures and show how to do it. Also quilting books can show this.

On the freehand side of the machine, if you lean against it, is the lining roller; the one above and behind it is the top roller, and the take-up roller is under the machine head.

Roll down the leader of the lining roller about 2-3 feet. Then whip it backwards and up over the top roller and drape it back down on top of the lining roller. Roll it until the edge comes to the edge of the roller. The top roller should be covered.

At this point, my personal favorite is using the selvedge edge of the lining. It’s usually straight, with no bias. While pinning, I pull it a LITTLE tight, as it tends to be tighter than the rest of the fabric and should be stretched out a little. You can also use the one straight edge that I mentioned before. Pinning instructions are next.

Take the lining and drape it over the take-up roller. Lay the whole straight edge smooth, matching centers if you’d like (I never do this anymore), and even with the edge of the leader. Lift both up, and holding them together in front of you, pin the center of the lining to the center of the quilt, about 1/8 to ¼ inch away from the edge. Your pins should be going into the leader first, the fabric behind it. Pin every 3” or so, down to the end, and then come back to the center, pinning the spots in between. Then do the same towards the other end. Your pins should be head-to-head.

Unroll the leader on the take-up roller until it is 1” or so above the table (I do this before I begin pinning the lining at all.) Go to the panto side, and pull the lining clear down to the floor, making it taut. Smooth it out. Then go back to the other side and slowly roll it, keeping it as straight and smooth as possible. Sometimes the take-up roller will move as well. Just do the best you can. I lean down and look under there, and when it the first spot of the lining becomes even with the take-up leader, stop rolling. Then UNroll it a little to give some slack, about 6 inches or so. You will see at this point, places where it’s not even with the leader. It’s okay. It may be because: 1. The edge of the leader(s) are not straight (if you need help with this, write me), or 2. The lining isn’t square. It’s better to have it a little long, than short. The shortest edge of the lining should be even with the leader, or a tiny bit longer.

Stand on the panto side, and with your left hand (if you are right handed, opposite if you’re left) hold the 2 edges together where they meet. Then bring them up in front of you, holding them in place, and pin. Go down about a foot and do the same, etc. all up and down the edge. Then every 6” or so. The lining edge may be jagged and askew, hanging over the edge of the leader too much. This is why you keep the 2 together when you pin, so you’ll create an even edge. Pin the whole edge, head to head.


Tighten the lining roller, then loosen 1 notch. Lay the batting (hopefully it has a straight edge) on top, touching the pinned edge. Smooth it out real nice. Using the channel lock, run a basting stitch about 1″ from the edge, all the way across the batting and lining, creating a straight edge. (This will also show you if your leader edge is straight.) It depends on how much lining you have to play with (here’s where you check your measurements), and if you (or your customer) are going to use the lining for the binding. You can baste as far from the edge as you want. Then loosen up the lining bar some more, and gently pull the batting under there. Tighten up lining bar and batting, smoothing it all out.

Quilt Top

Give the lining bar a little slack. Unroll the top bar and lay the leader over the edge of the lining bar (it will be laying on top of the batting). Drape the quilt top over the take-up bar, and lay the edge of it along the edge of the leader. Find the center and pin to the center of the leader (I also don’t do this anymore. I put it a few inches from the edge. That way you don’t have 1 foot on both sides of wasted fabric, you have 2 feet on one side that can be re-used). Measure down both sides and mark the edges, where the top should end up, with pins, into the leaders. Smooth it all down, and lay it even with the edge. Then pin the edges down, and follow the same procedure as with the lining. I begin at the center and go out. You may have to ease it in, and sometimes when I get to the end, I have to move the pin out a little, if the border is too wavy.

After it’s all pinned on, go to the panto side and drape it the same as you did the lining. Back to the freehand side. Roll it carefully. Loosen up where seams are by putting your thumb under the bar, and fingers on top (“C” shaped) and grabbing hard and pulling downwards. ( If there’s a seam in the middle of the lining going down the quilt, when you put on the lining you may have to do the same thing.) Watch the wavy edges, and try to keep the edges even. Sometimes you’ll have to “tuck” them under. When you go to quilt it, you can stretch the quilt a little to ease this in. Also as you roll it up, watch the lines on the quilt, making sure as they go under the rollers, that they’re parallel to them. Here’s where I also squeeze some down if it’s going under too fast. It takes lots of tugging and pulling here and there. I wish I could show it.

Roll it until the other edge comes over the take-up roller, and ends up at the basted edge. If you keep the top smooth as you go along, it should be easy to see where the center ends up. Unroll it, more than just a little, to give some slack, about 4 notches. Pin the center down where it falls. I don’t match it to the center of the leader. (Put all these pins in perpendicular.) Measure down both ends and see where the top should end up, marking as before. (Nowadays I don’t do any of this measuring, I just eye-ball it.) Pin the ends. Matching the edge of the top to the basting, pin as before. A little trickier here. You may have to tug in some places to get the top where you need it to be. That’s why you give some slack on the top roller. And other places you’ll have to pull back on excess fabric. This will all work out. When you’re done pinning, roll the top roller and take up the slack. Do not make it taut. Don’t worry about all the waves on the top of the quilt at this point.

Take another basting stitch, beginning at the right end, and about 1/8 from the edge. I go a little ways, then put a clamp on the edge to make it a little taut. I go over the pins, but slowly. Or you can stop at each one and move the machine over them. When you get to the end, leave the machine there, don’t cut threads. Take out the pins. Roll up the bottom and top rollers to where you like to quilt. Now that the edge is basted down, you can pull it to where you want it. Smooth it out as best you can. I put one hand under the whole quilt (it’s hard when there’s a lot of batting to deal with) and the other on top, pressing them gently together and smoothing from the center to the edge. Keep the smoothing even, you don’t want more top on the edge than lining, and visa versa. Now finish basting up the edge of the quilt, towards you, until you can’t go any further. Then baste the other end. If the edge is too far from me (I’m short), I begin at the freehand side and go backwards. Either way works (the Ult. I can quilt backwards, not all brands can do this). I don’t do this edge at the beginning because I haven’t basted the long edge and smoothed the whole quilt out yet. I trim the edges to about 3”. Put the clamps on. And begin quilting. Each time you roll it, baste the edges before trimming and clamping. With this method, you never worry about running into clamps or pins.

Basting the 4th edge

Here’s what you do when you get to the end of the quilt. If you SID (stitch-in-the-ditch), then SID around that far border. If you don’t, and your border pattern doesn’t go to the edge, go ahead and do the border. Take out some of the pins: Beginning at the right end, leave one pin, take out 2, leave 1, take out 2, etc. At the left end, take out the last pin, leaving in the second to last. Loosen the rollers just a bit, or you won’t have equal amounts of lining and top. Begin the basting stitch at the left, where you left off from basting the edge. Come up to the end, take out the pin, go down a little, then put on the clamp, real snug. Baste along there, pulling back the leader, and unpinning each pin as you get to them. Watch that the batting doesn’t bunch up (poly batt. is a little trickier all the way around) inside the 2 layers. And if you gently push down on the fabric with your left hand, on the left side of the machine, it should stay even. This especially helps when you have a wavy border. (You can also do this as you baste the other 3 sides; you’ll see what I mean when you do it.) You may want to clamp the other end to give a little tension, as well.

When you are quilting, and have a spot that’s tighter and a little skewed from the parts around it, just squeeze the bar and tug like you did before. It’s loosens it up a little and makes it more even. This is sometimes difficult at the ends where it’s pinned in. But it works well in the body of the quilt.

That’s all there is to it. I hope I didn’t leave anything out. Let me know if you want more details explained, or have any questions. I hope this is all clear to you. It’s difficult without being able to show you.