All posts by Alanna Nelson

Love longarm quilting? Become an LLQ Subscriber

Laurena Longarm Quilting Boston rentals
Another top becomes a cozy quilt!

Turning a top into a quilt is a great feeling! For many of our customers, becoming a Longarm Subscriber is a fabulous way to make sure that feeling happens every month.

What is the LLQ Subscriber Program? It allows quilters to pay monthly for longarm rental hours. Quilters purchase these hours at a reduced rate and use them as needed. If the hours aren’t used up in a month, the hours roll over and do not expire. If the subscriber needs more hours in a month, he or she is able to purchase additional hours at the reduced rate.

Subscribers agree to participate in the program for at least 6 months. If they find themselves accumulating too many hours after the initial time period, Laurena allows them to freeze the subscription for up to 3 months in a calendar year. If, after 6 months, the subscription doesn’t turn out to be the right fit, you can cancel with 30 days notice. The hours are in your “bank” to use as needed.

What a deal, right? This is one way to make sure you get your longarm quilting fix at a great price. Rates depend on the number of hours in the subscription.

Become a Longarm Subscriber at 4, 6 or 8 hours per month at only $17.50/hour. You do need to reserve blocks of at least 4 hours each time you come to the studio.

Need more time? Become a Longarm Subscriber at 10 or 12 hours per month at $15.00/hour. You reserve at least 6 hours each time you come to the studio.

And wait, there’s more (just had to say it!)…

Longarm subscribers still benefit from the frequent renter program. So, each time you pay for 25 hours of longarm rental, you receive 4 free.

Do you need any more excuse to quilt more? Definitely not!

Click to download the subscriber guidelines under the Subscription Program description for all of the details.

And if you have any questions, call or email and we’ll be happy to answer them!

New Statler and Paper Quilting Patterns

After the Machine Quilter’s Expo, lovely delightful packages and downloads arrived in the studio. Hurray!  New paper pantograph and Statler Stitcher quilting patterns for all of us to enjoy. While Laurena knew the contents of the packages, it was still nice to watch the paper patterns unroll.

With so many paper and digital quilting patterns available, stocking our pattern stash does require strategic thinking. Were we reflecting a wide range of quilting styles? Did we already own something similar? What requests did we receive?

Whether you rent longarm quilting machines or have us do it for you, here’s a few highlights of what’s been added.

Laurena Longarm Quilting machine rentals Burlingotn, MA
Zydeco by Sally Ann Meyer

For paper pantographs to use on the hand guided machine:

Easy Peasy which features nested angles and arcs and gives a wonderful allover texture. The 6″ pattern by Lorien Quilting offers the opportunity to practice tight curves and points without worrying about exact positioning.

Whoosh and Denise’s Spirals create movement and work well in linear quilts.

Zydeco is a really relaxing pattern with fun energy that looks great on quilts for all ages.

One of the new digital patterns available for the Statler Stitcher

On the Statler, we’ve downloaded one of Anita Shackleford’s Modern sets.  Then there is Camelia with its graceful blossoms.

Alanna and Gwen have been working to get a fairly complete list of digital quilting patterns available for you to peruse in the shop and from the comfort of your own digital device. Gwen’s stitching out patterns when she can sneak in a row. These are on display at the Studio, too.

At your next appointment to choose patterns or quilt your own quilt, take a minute to see what’s new. As always, Laurena is happy to add patterns.

Quilting for Comfort

Why do we quilt? I feel like you can trace stories of our lives via the tops brought into Laurena’s. In March and April, there was an avalanche of blizzard quilts pieced during those snowy February weekends. After the Machine Quilter’s Expo in April, there was a definite comfort quilt trend. Whether T shirt, memory, or comfort quilts, these fabrics stitched together were a symbol of the care and concern for people in our lives… and for others in need.

Burlington Quilt Guild Charity Day at Laurena Longarm
Burlington Quilt Guild members in May.

Laurena is a member of the Burlington and Rising Star Quilt Guilds. She donates charity days at LLQ so the Guilds can complete more quilts. Hosting both Guilds this spring produced nice results for their charities.

Can I be honest? Laurena’s got charity quilt days down to a science. With pinning stations, quilting stations and the trimming/binding log, there’s work for everyone. Quilts unzip off the frames faster than tight jeans. After all, she doesn’t call it “Laurena’s Little Sweatshop” for nothing!

The piecing doesn’t have to be difficult. Look at how four strip “railroad ties” blocks can evolve into completely different and beautiful tops!

Burlington MA Guild creates comfort quilts at Laurena Longarm
Comfort Quilt at Laurena Longarm

Gwen is a charity quilter extraordinaire! She’s taken many a charity quilt top for Boston Modern Quilt Guild and Rising Star under her wing. Lately, Gwen’s been doing plenty of tops for the Quilts for Kids Charity Quilts. At last word we heard, there were 150 tops waiting to become quilts. They are small tops that need functional quilting. Contact the folks at Sew Together in Tewksbury if you are able to convert a top to a quilt!
A busy day of charity quilts

Laurena Longarm does Quilt Binding Boston

Heather Bailey’s Great Quilt Binding Guidance

Alanna led a session on binding quilts at the Common Cod Fiber Guild’s FiberCamp earlier this month. Turns out there’s some unfinished quilts in the world… are we surprised?

On the board, she outlined the basic steps (practicing her chalk manipulation skills). There were a lot of good questions.

Laurena Longarm does Quilt Binding Boston Don’t you have to create bias strips for your quilt? Not unless the edge of your quilt has scalloped or curved edges. Marianne Fons and Liz Porter have a great description of how to make bias strips in their Quilter’s Complete Guide.

How do you deal with all of that fabric?

  • Surround your sewing space with tables to support the weight of the quilt.
  • If your sewing machine isn’t set into a table, consider purchasing a table extension.
  • Most importantly, sew with one hand before the presser foot and the other hand after the presser foot. This helps guide the machine and ensures good stitch composition for all of your sewing.

Laurena traditionally shares Heather Bailey‘s fabulous hand out on how to do continuous quilt binding. Alanna shared the “waistband” tip on sewing binding strips.

Everyone had a chance to try sewing a machine binding on the second side with Jeremiah’s fabulous 1959 White sewing machine, whose stitches moved smoothly and strongly along the many layers of fabric.

Alanna also shared 3 tips for hand sewing:

  1. Thread your needle while it is still attached to the spool. This way you are sure to follow the spin of the thread, which makes things much easier for threading and stitching.
  2. Coat your thread with thread heaven. This conditioner reduces drag, doesn’t leave a residue and is safe in the long term for your fabrics. Alanna uses this for beading and embroidery as well.
  3. Keep your thread lengths less than the distance from your fingertip to your elbow. This reduces tangles.

Now, in true FiberCamp tradition, Alanna would love to hear any tips you have on binding quilts. What makes quilt binding easier for you?


9 Steps to Piece a Quilt Back with Print Fabrics

Some fabrics are just too fun to pass up. I love large scale prints, and many are great to cut up for blocks. Other yardage stays whole, destined for the quilt back.

Whoa is me when I don’t take the time to match up the patterns when piecing the back. I’ve done it once. Never again.

Many moons ago, I bought many yards of Hawaiian fabric on Kauai. One morning, I slapped two pieces of that fabric together for a large quilt back. No, worry, it wouldn’t bug me if the print repeats don’t match. Every time I put that quilt on a bed, the mismatched fabric drives me crazy. I could still snag a yard of this plumeria fabric on Etsy….

Laurena Longarm Quilting print quilt back sewing services Burlington MA
Plumeria hawaiian quilt print fabric

Alas fair quilter, you have been warned:

Follow these 9 steps to match the fabric on your quilt back.

Laurena Longarm Quilting Services Burlington, MA Boston Metro
Think how distracting this back would be if the circles weren’t matched!
  1. Measure the repeat of your fabric. With your ruler, measure a straight line from the top of design motif to the top of the next motif. This determines the offset needed to match the fabric.
  2. Cut one length of fabric equal to the desired quilt back length Add 6″ – 10″ to the quilt top length to figure out what that length should be. Add a bit more so you can square the quilt back with peace of mind.
  3. Cut a second length of fabric the Desired quilt back length PLUS Repeat PLUS Wiggle room. For example
    1.  Fabric repeat = 12″
    2. Quilt top = 60″
    3. Desired quilt back length 70″
    4. Matching fabric length = 70″ + 12″ + 4″ = 86″
  4. Cut the selvedge edge off one side of the first length of fabric.
  5. Press the newly trimmed edge back to create a half inch (0.5″) border down the entire length of the fabric.
  6. Pin baste the 2 lengths of fabric together. This is easier if you can lay it out on a table or floor. We use pins, but Laurena wonders if any of you have tried using double sided tape to baste. Gwen’s tried with glue sticks, but that’s a lot of stick if the quilt back is big!
  7. Baste the edges together. If you use matching thread, you don’t have to worry about removing the thread later. A ladder stitch between the fabrics at half inch (0.5″) intervals is fine.

    Laurena Longarm Quilting pieced back sewn
    Basting the layers together
  8. Sew the two lengths together along that pressed fold line.
  9. Trim the seam allowance. It doesn’t need to be a strict quarter inch, but be sure to cut off the selvedge of the second piece. Press to one side.

Pat yourself on the back! It may take time, but it’s not difficult to piece a quilt back with print fabric. Don’t forget to square your quilt back before you start quilting.

Now that you know how I do it, I’m excited to hear any tips you have to improve my process. Do comment and share your quilty goodness.

Piecing quilt backs not your thing? Then don’t worry, you can ask Laurena’s Longarm Quilting to piece your back for you.

After all, quilting is a pleasure!

Laurena Longarm Quilting pieces backs near Boston

We can piece that back for you!

What to do if you just don’t feel like piecing together that quilt back?

Bring it to Laurena’s Longarm Quilting!
We construct quilt backs in all sizes, from baby to California King.

Our costs are quite reasonable and you can count on a solidly pieced back.  Take a peek at our brochure for a complete list of the prices and services available, but here’s the basic pricing for backs.

Quilt Back Piecing (priced by square inch)
Quilt Top Size(length x width) Single Seam Surcharge formatch, multi seam
<2,000 sq inch $15 $10
2,001 – 6,999 $20 $10
7,000 – 9,999 $25 $10
10,000 + $30 $15

Let’s say you have a queen size quilt that measures 62″ x 84″. Its area (length times width) is 5,208″. If you just need one single seam, the cost would be $20. Does your fabric have a large scale or directional print that needs matching? Then it would cost $30.

(That reminds me, I said I’d write a post on how to match directional fabrics…)

If you’ve been a longtime Laurena customer, you immediately notice that this table is  more complex than our old flat rate. It makes sense that prices reflect the actual time spent on the work involved, right?

Any questions? We’re always happy to help!

Laurena Longarm Pieced Quilt Backs

5 steps to a pieced twin or queen size quilt back.

You’ve spent hours cutting, stitching, pressing, squaring and assembling fabric.


That quilt top

Is done.

Be sure to give the same loving attention to your back. If your top is larger than baby or lap size, chances are you’ll need to piece your back (although you can always choose the extra wide Sew Batik backs and be on your merry way :)).

Here are the 5 steps to making a quilt back from 42 – 44″ fabric. It doesn’t include the steps for matching large scale or directional fabric. I’ll do that in a future blog post.

1) Cut 2 pieces of fabric that are 6 – 10″ longer than the quilt top.

2) Match the pieces together at the selvedge edges. Sew one side with a 1″ – 1.5″ seam allowance (I know, after all of those quarter inch seam allowances, this looks enormous).

3) Press the seams to set the stitching.

4) Lining your ruler along the stitching line, trim to a ½” seam allowance with a rotary cutter. Now you’ve removed the selvedge edge. Selvedges are a stiffer weave and may shrink differently than the rest of your quilt fabric, even if you’ve already washed and pressed it. Also, why tempt the needle to skip as it works through seam allowances and a selvedge.

5) Press your seams to one side.

This quilt back results in a center seam in the middle of the back. There are those who believe that quilt backs shouldn’t have a center back seam. If you hang out with that group, then sew the selvedge edges together on both sides in Step 2. You’ll have an additional step of cutting the tube open to create the quilt back. Your quilt back will have 2 seams.

Quilt backs can be as much fun to piece as the top. Looking for ideas for piecing quilt backs? Want more? Check out Kathy Matthews’ adventures with quilt backs.

Now that you’ve pieced it, don’t forget to square your quilt back!

Bright pink sign outside Laurena Longarm Quilting Burlington Boston

February: The Snowy Whoosh!

Can you believe we’ve gone 10 days without a snowstorm? Only flurries and signs of melting snow. February went by in a flurry both figuratively and literally.

If you missed the Open House the Statler Stitcher Creative Studios classes, we were delighted that the snow held off. Thanks to all who came! It was a great turn out, a good way to stop shoveling and quilting to socialize.  We enjoyed chatting with everyone, sharing a warm drink and a nibble (or two).

Jaws dropped when quilters walked into the new space (we’re wondering if “the Annex” nickname may be replaced by “the Blue Room”). Brian Tjelta shared tidbits from the latest software version for the Statler Stitcher.

Gamill quilting machines at Burlington Longarm Boston

Everyone gravitated around the Virtual Quilt Show. Nearly 100 photos were contributed by more than 36 people. Close ups, on the bed, held up by family, just off the frame or hung professionally, it was an inspiring sight to see.

On Monday, it was back to snow storms…..

While we’re still getting used to the extra space, we already appreciate not squeezing everything into the original room. More later, but for now, there’s quilting to be done!

Back to work… whoosh!

Hanging the Open House “Virtual Quilt Show”

In our email reminder and on our Facebook page we announced our hope to project images of  quilts worked on at Laurena’s over the years. Whether it is a custom quilting job that Laurena did or a quilt done individually, we thought this would be a great way to celebrate the many tops that have become quilts since Laurena started the business.

Computer guided Statler Stitcher at Laurena Longarm

Many, many, many thanks for everyone who contributed to the Virtual Quilt Show! Alanna’s putting the slide show together. If everything goes as planned, we’ll enjoy seeing a great many quilts at the Open House with no white gloves necessary 🙂

Can we request no snow on Saturday?

Squaring your Quilt Back

Longarm quilting doesn’t require basting the top, batting and backing together. It does require the fabric for your quilt back to be square. Here’s a  great video by Cindy Carey that covers the basics:

Our new handout for the Introduction to Longarm Quilting classes includes a link to this video, as well as the 10 steps to squaring your back.

 How to square a quilt back

  1. Press the backing fabric.
  2. Lining up the selvedge edges, fold the fabric in half, allowing it to hang from your fingertips as if it’s hanging on a clothes line. If your backing is large, ask someone to help you hold the length of the fabric.
  3. Look at the fold line dangling at the bottom edge. Is it wavy, gathered or curving? If so, use your fingertips to shimmy the selvedge edges to the left or right. You want the bottom fold to hang straight and flat.
  4. When the fabric doesn’t have any puckers, place pins every six inches at the top of the selvedge edges.
  5. Lay the folded backing fabric on a cutting mat and table. Smooth gently, keeping the fold line flat and bump free.
  6. Bring the fold line up to the selvedge edge (the back is now folded in quarters). Check that the fold line and selvedge edges are still pucker free and lying flat.
  7. Line up the bottom edge with a horizontal marked inch line on the cutting mat. Place a quilter’s ruler near one edge of the backing fabric, perpendicular to the horizontal lines of the cutting mat. If your back is folded in quarters and the ruler doesn’t extend past the selvedge and folded edges, either fold again or add a second ruler.
  8. Check that all layers of fabric protrude past the rulers.
  9. Using a rotary cutter, glide along the ruler edge to slice off excess fabric.
  10. Repeat steps 7 – 9 to square the opposite side.

At Laurena’s Longarm Quilting, we’re happy to make and square backs for you. Prices depend on the size of the back. Just email or call us for a quote.