We love taking peeks into other people’s quilting studios during our Looky Loo Studio Tour! Each month during our Quilted Joy Clubhouse live meetings we tour the quilting studio of one of our QJ Clubhouse members. Today, let’s take a look back at our tour of Jill Bell’s beautiful creative space, that she’s incorporated into the main living space of her home. Watch the video below to see Jill’s Looky Loo Studio Tour!
We wanted to get to know Jill a little more, so we asked her a few other questions before we recorded our tour.
How long have you been quilting with a longarm?
I got my APQS Lucey on Thanksgiving 2019, through the combined efforts of some dear friends and family who both lent and gifted me the capital!
How have you grown your skills?
Practice, practice, practice! I’m a part of a local quilting guild that donates hundreds of quilts annually to local charities, so I quilted many charity quilts early on, which also benefited others, and they didn’t mind my mistakes! I also joined a local long arm group, and the monthly meetings are always a great source of encouragement, ideas, and inspiration. I’ve taken a few quilting classes, watched a gazillion YouTube videos, and spent way too much time on IG looking at really good longarmers and dreaming of the day I’ll quilt as well as they do.
What do you find to be the most challenging part of longarm quilting?
Standing and quilting pantos from the back of the machine for long periods of time used to be hard on my back, but since I added IQ to my machine, I no longer have those back pains! Probably the most challenging part is that I can be a tough self-critic. The finished product in my mind is often more perfect than the actual outcome I produce, so being kind to myself and feeling pleased with my progression of skills is sometimes challenging.
Where is your quilting space? Is it a retail space?
My quilting space is just inside the front door of my house! We are fortunate to have both a formal living room and dining room space as well as a family room and kitchen/dining room in our home, so my family very graciously agreed that the formal spaces could be my quilting space. We’re not a very formal family.
What do you love about your quilting space?
My long arm is in a room with a lovely view out the window of the Puget Sound—water and mountains—and although you can’t quilt and look out the window at the same time, I get to enjoy it in between! I also repurposed my grandmother’s old china cabinet to hold my thread collection, so I have this beautiful colorful display that brightens up the whole room. It coordinates well with my wooden desk (a thrift store find!) and antique captain’s chair, so the furniture of my studio fits well into a home’s décor, much better than office modules would.
If you could change anything about your quilting space, what would it be?
I’ve maxed out all the space, so a little more room would be nice, but I’d probably just fill it with more fabric, and who needs that?!
Why did you choose an APQS machine?
The actual machines seem more “approachable” and less “machine-y” than some of the others I looked at (a plus when it’s in my living room), and they’re really sturdy and durable. The company seemed very reliable, and the ability to maintain and fix the machine myself rather than rely on a technician was a big draw. There’s a huge online APQS community that is always a great source of support as well. I am so glad I went with APQS!
Do you have a computer on your machine? If so, what do you love about it?
About 5 weeks ago I added Intelliquilter to my APQS Lucey. It’s a dream! I was able to self-install it with very little frustration and have only just begun to discover all the possibilities. With IQ I can finish customer quilts in ¼ of the time it used to take me to quilt by hand, it helps me keep quilts square on my frame with the channel locks, and it offers innumerable design choices at the touch of a few buttons. I adore it. A most worthwhile investment.
What advice would you give to a new longarm quilter?
Be patient and kind to yourself, find people who will encourage you, and use the resources of the longarm community that are out there. Social media is full of groups where you can ask questions, get advice, and show your progress. Find a longarm community!
What quilting project are you currently working on?
Because I have a small business as a long arm quilter, I have very little time to make my own quilts! However, our local guild quilt show is coming up next March, and I want to enter a quilt in it, so I’ve pulled out some projects that have been sitting on the shelf for a few years and am trying to work on them on the weekends. I usually take December off from quilting for others, so that’s when I accomplish most of my own quilting.
How would you describe your quilting style?
I’m somewhere in between modern and traditional. Kaffe Fassett fabrics make me dizzy, but cozy country cottage isn’t for me either, so sometimes I dabble with Tula Pink (in very small doses) and sometimes I retreat into plain old half square triangles with old favorites from my stash. I even straddle the styles through two guild memberships, one with my local modern quilt guild and one with Quilters Anonymous.
What is your favorite batting and thread?
I use Hobbs Heirloom 80/20 cotton poly and Hobbs Heirloom wool, almost exclusively. I have a customer quilt on my machine right now that is double batted with Dream bamboo and 80/20, and I really like the bamboo, it has a lovely drape and loft. My all-time favorite thread is Glide. It runs beautifully on my machine, and I adore those magnetic pre-wound bobbins!
Do you quilt for others? If you have a business please share your website and/or social media links so we can share with the Quilted Joy audience.
I have quilted for others almost since I got my machine. In the middle of the night, I came up with my business name—Comfort and Joy Quilter—because I wanted my work to bring both comfort and joy to my customers.
About half of my business comes from my local guilds, and half from people finding me on google and my website.
My business website is www.comfortandjoyquilter.com
IG and FB: Comfort and Joy Quilter | Facebook
Jill Bell (@comfortandjoyquilter) • Instagram photos and videos
Thanks again to Jill for letting us look around!