Video: Looky Loo Studio Tour with Jim R. | Quilted Joy Clubhouse 

Jim Rexroat Looky Loo Studio Tour

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 Jim Rexroat’s bright and beautiful creative space, above his garage. Watch the video below to see Jim’s Looky Loo Studio Tour!

Play Video about Jim Rexroat's sewing & quilting studio

We wanted to get to know Jim a little more, so we asked him a few other questions before we recorded our tour.

How long have you been quilting with a longarm?

I’d been looking at getting a longarm for a few months, and on one sleepless night about 14 years ago, I called the APQS Dealer in Texas on the business number at 3:00 in the morning to leave a message that I was interested in learning to longarm.  Much to my surprise and embarrassment, Connie Keller picked up the phone.  I had obvious woken her up, so I told her “go back to sleep, I will drop by tomorrow to chat”.  I went to her studio inside Quilt Country in Lewisville, Texas the next afternoon and I started renting longarm time from her within the week.  Once QuiltPath released, I was 100% completely hooked on getting my own longarm.  I love to freehand quilt, but sometimes I really wanted to something intricate, something beyond what I can do freehand.  The computerized quilting adds that ability.  BONUS, I can piece another top and quilt at the same time!  I finally got around to purchasing my own longarm, an APQS Lucey about 2 years ago, right as my partner and I were moving to Michigan.

How have you grown your skills?

 Growing skills is constantly on my mind, “How could I do this better?”, “What else can I incorporate into my next quilting design?”, “How can I overcome my fear of feathers?”, “Why did I start quilting this king quilt so densely?”.  The biggest hurdle I had when I first started as a longarmer was self-imposed… perfection.  Fortunately, I was taught the “Galloping horse” method:  If someone passed by on a galloping horse, would they notice?  Once that really sunk in, I let loose.  I stopped focusing on perfection, let go of that mindset, and after a couple more quilts, everything fell into place!  To continue to grow skills in the present, it always comes down to determination, time, and practice.  While donating quilting time to charities is a great way to help others, it also helps the quilter both emotionally and skill-wise.  Doodling is always a great way to practice spacing, tempo, new designs and embedding the muscle memory to duplicate the same on a quilt.  Then, on to the next improvement!

What do you find to be the most challenging part of longarm quilting?

The most challenging part of longarming is when the quilt doesn’t speak back to me.  I’ve had a couple dozen times when I think I know what the quilt needs to finish it off.  I get it mounted, squared, and tacked into place on the backing and batting … and the quilt refuses to let me start quilting.  I will let it sit on the frame for a spell and if it doesn’t start talking back, I move on to the next one and come back to it.  I’m sure that will sound strange to those who do not quilt, but I think I am in good company, and I hope I am not alone in experiencing this phenomenon.  I liken it to gathering fabric for a large paper-pieced pattern… where you get the first 28 fabrics pulled together in about forty-five minutes, but the 29th fabric refuses to be found.  You put it all back on the shelf and the next day you try again with all new colors, and you get all 29 fabrics pulled together in 15 minutes.  It ends up not being anything close to what you thought you wanted… but it ends up being perfect!

Where is your quilting space? Is it a retail space? 

My quilting space is a 27-foot x 22-foot room above the garage.  The room used to be an open second story patio when the house was built in 1964, but the previous owners had it refinished as a large office.  The two end walls are primarily windows, and the ceiling slopes front to back so at the backend the ceiling is about 6 foot high, and it is about 14 foot high at the front.  Wall space is a little limited, but it has an incredible amount of space and storage, enough to afford me the ability to have a 14-foot frame on Lucey.  The sheer amount of natural light and the ability to open all the windows is probably my favorite thing about my crafting spaces.  The only thing I think I would change are the walls.  They are currently a stained tongue-and-groove pine, which tend to reflect a yellow-orange tone on everything.  I would love to remove the pine and design a modular wall system for storage and quilt hanging and shift it to a neutral color.

Why did you choose an APQS machine?

 I chose APQS for many reasons.  The lifetime warranty, the quality, the customer service, the people who make APQS what they are.  They are people that will bend over backwards to make sure you are completely happy… not 99% happy, but 100% happy.  I’ve seen APQS do things for customers that were well beyond expectations.  I have tried a few other manufacturer’s offerings, but I always came back to the APQS machines, and for good reason, they are the best for me.

Do you have a computer on your machine? If so, what do you love about it?

I do have Intelliquilter on my Lucey, and I love it.  It allows me the freedom to plug in a design, load the bobbin, and click GO.  Then I can walk over to the design table and work on something else at the same time.  I also like the flexibility and repeatability of a computerized longarm.

What advice would you give to a new longarm quilter?

For the new longarm quilter I would like to offer only two pieces of advice…. 1)  Get out of your head.  Just quilt, don’t think, and see what happens!  2) Understand the excitement and value of “It’s off the floor!”  Only a longarmer will understand the delight in that phrase.

What quilting project are you currently working on? 

Currently, I have several projects underway.  I’m working on a Sassaman-style patchwork quilt, Dinner plate Dahlia, Carnival Flower, a new bag design, and a stack of three dozen quilts that need binding.  I truly do not like the binding process, so I tend to make a huge pile of completed quilts and spend two weeks doing nothing but binding.

How would you describe your quilting style?

I’d like to say that my quilting styles defies being defined as any one particular approach.  Each quilt is its own adventure, and although I would love to say that I know exactly what I want to do when I see either a pattern or a completed top, I never know until it is mounted on the longarm.  In the moments right before starting to quilt I let myself be completely at the mercy of the quilt itself.  I will say that if a quilt is very structured, I prefer to longarm with the intent to give the quilt “motion”.  On the other hand, if a quilt is very active or busy, I prefer to quilt more subdued and let the quilt take the lead.  I don’t want the quilting to compete with the quilt design itself.

What is your favorite batting and thread?

My favorite batting and threads have both changed over the past 2 years due to availability and shipping costs.  In Dallas, I would use nothing but Hobbs Heirloom 80/20 (preferably black).  Since moving to Michigan and the skyrocketing prices to ship rolls of batting, I have started to use Quilter’s Dream, which I can get relatively locally.  Both have their advantages, but I might stick with Quilter’s Dream for the foreseeable future.  For threads, I have moved over to Omni for both top and bottom threads.  The thread I started quilting with originally became difficult to source during Covid and I had just purchased my longarm and had to stock up.  For domestic, I use Aurafil or Connecting Threads Essentials.  I love Aurafil for its low lint properties, but at 2-3x the cost of the Essentials, I have no issues with cleaning out my bobbin case more frequently.  For handwork, Tire Silk thread is my favorite to work with, and I use InvisaFil when doing English paper piecing.

Do you quilt for others?

 I have done quilting for a very limited number of other people, and I am working expanding that offering as soon as I get my website reopened and do all those icky business things to get started.  It’s currently under redesign and can be found at!  It’ll be a few weeks until it is ready to reopen.

Thanks again to Jim for letting us look around!

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Angela Huffman- Triplet Momma. Quilter. Teacher. Thread Bimbo

I’m Angela- Co-host of the Fons & Porter’s Love of Quilting PBS show. APQS Long arm Dealer and Educator. Triplet Momma. Designer. Thread Bimbo.

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