The Story of the Shark Applicutter

Cut Some Waves with the Shark Applicutter

I began work on the Shark Applicutter more than five years ago, and the reason I invented it was a safety issue. I had started using the smallest rotary cutter I could find, an 18mm, to cut out the shapes used in my Endangered Species project. These quilts featured an “up close and personal” portrait of each endangered animal and required a lot of intricate cutting. As we all know, necessity is the mother of invention, so I started using my rotary cutter in a new way, holding it like a pen instead of using an overhand grip. When I used it this way, I could twist and move it more freely, but it had a few drawbacks. I started teaching my classes with the 18mm rotary cutter, but I noticed that many people were struggling to cut with it safely and accurately due to arthritis and other issues. As I listened to their concerns, I realized that adding a bump, like the dorsal fin on a shark, would make it safer to use and more accurate.

While I was on a teaching trip in Hawaii, I found myself sitting on a beach in Kona, mulling over a few ideas when inspiration struck me. I looked over at this chunk of old surfboard sticking out of the sand next to me and suddenly realized that I could use resin to make an amazing handle for the applicutter. At the same time I had been working on the rotary cutter handle back home, I was also making plastic water bottle spaceships with my son. The two projects came together in my mind right there on the beach. My son and I had been adding these little plexiglas wings onto water bottles and as I looked at that surfboard I realized I could make a handle from the same materials. Right when I got home, I went right to work creating the first prototype and immediately proved to myself that it worked fantastically. Now all I needed was a company to make it.

I saw a need in the industry for a better tool and a safer tool and I feel really proud of what I’ve created. It took a couple years for everything to come together and by the time I was about ready to sell it at quilt market, I began talking to people at Missouri Star Quilt Co. about the Shark Applicutter and they helped open the door. It was actually part of my interview when I joined the company. I had a silver, James Bond briefcase with me and I presented my product to them. They thought it was genius! I was ecstatic to join the MSQC family as the face of Man Sewing, and amazed that they believed in my product and in me.

It has been a five-year process to bring the Shark Applicutter to where it is today and the time just flew by. I had been so busy with everything else in my life that I felt like God helped me from start to finish. It was such a fun mission for me to take on;  it has really been a fantastic ride. I can’t wait to see where it will go from here!

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Shark Applicutter features:

  • Fits both 14mm and 18mm blades
  • Can be used in either the left or right hand
  • Designed for cutting organic shapes without a ruler
  • Has the same hardware as most rotary cutters
  • Includes a soft grip for comfort
  • The Safety Fin keeps your finger out of harm’s way!
  • Handle can be used as hera marker for creasing fabric (when the cap is on, of course!)


Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show 2017 Recap

The second week in July is marked on my calendar all year long. As the days get longer, I look forward to my week in Sisters, Oregon, as a time to share my love of quilting with those who descend on this sleepy town for a magical week of quilting and the outdoors.


Quilter’s Affair is always a fun time. It’s a reunion every year–reconnecting with quilters from across the world. like Sarah Fielke from Australia (I used her fabric in my Weighted Pin Cushion tutorial, which you can watch here!), Rosalee Dace from South Africa or Laura Wasilowski from lovely Elgin Illinois (inside joke). The comradery among the instructors is amazing! We all chip in to help one another, show support at each other’s trunk shows, trade sewing stories, and make plans for collaboration on future projects. I always learn a lot each year, and take home tons of inspiration from my fellow quilters .

So much knowledge and expertise is shared at the Teachers Tent! Pictured here are (L-R) Sarah Fielke, Tula Pink, Joe Cunningham, and me!)
So much knowledge and expertise is shared at the Teachers Tent! Pictured here are (L-R) Sarah Fielke, Tula Pink, Joe Cunningham, and me!)

This year, I was honored as the featured artist at the “Save it for Sunday” exhibit at Five Pines Lodge. Seeing my quilts among the trees was an amazing feeling. I find so much inspiration for what I do from nature, especially Sisters, that returning the quilts to where they were essentially created just seemed right.

Save it for Sunday at Five Pines Lodge was an amazing experience!
Save it for Sunday at Five Pines Lodge was an amazing experience!

Seeing my sixteen-plus years’ worth of quilts on display got me to thinking about how my quilting has evolved. On Sunday, my quilts were displayed by color, not by the linear storyline that I usually show during my trunk shows. Displayed this way, it looked like a number of different quilters made these, which led me to think  about how I have progressed as a quilter. In the beginning, I focused on creating visual art through intricate applique landscape and seascape quilts, and as I have progressed on this journey, I am now experimenting with patchwork and color, going back to the fundamentals of patchwork style quilting, with the added Man Sewing twist. I’ve gone backward in design, but forward in quality as I’m learning to design in color and patchwork rather than applique.







Stitch by stitch and quilt by quilt,I know my quilting journey continues, and no matter where it leads me, I know where I’ll be the second week of July in 2018.

Free Motion Quilting Mania!! #FMQMANIA

If you’ve been following along, you may have noticed that I like to approach quilting my own way. There’s no perfect method because every quilter thinks differently and prefers a unique approach that suits him or her best. This is definitely true for Free Motion Quilting! It’s supposed to be “free”-ing to do it your own way, but I can see how that might be difficult to tackle when you’re used to doing quilt piecing, which usually requires exact measurement and math.

So, if you’ve been hesitant to try it out for yourself, we’ve decided to offer a little bit of motivation… and is there better motivation than free stuff? Maybe, but this is the way we’re going!


Here’s what you have to do for a chance to win one of my new ‘High Voltage’ Thread Packs. This collection contains 12 large spools of my favorite shades of high-quality thread. (A $130 value!)

  • 1- Give free motion quilting a try (Need a boost of encouragement? I’m here for you! Click HERE to check out my FMQ tutorials!)
  • 2- Snap a pic.
  • 3- Share on Facebook or Instagram using #fmqmania.
  • 4- Cross your fingers. You might win big!

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Good luck! We can’t wait to see your FMQ attempts! Let the FMQ Mania begin! We will pick a winner on Wednesday, August 3rd!

Rob at Quilt Market

Rob had a total blast at Quilt Market this year in Salt Lake City! We compiled a few of our favorite photos to share! Click on the photos to view them on Instagram and read the comments!

Have you met Rob at an event? Share your photos with us on social media using #mansewing!

Quilt market setup is underway! Having a total blast! #mansewing #Repost @mama_hersh ・・・ We’re all set up at Needletraven

A photo posted by Man Sewing with Rob Appell (@mansewing) on

Looks who’s ready for #quiltmarket this morning! #mansewing #jennydoan #msqc @mansewing @mommadoan

A photo posted by Missouri Star Quilt Co (@missouriquiltco) on

Hey look at that nice collection of thread! Market has been good to me this spring! #mansewing #aurifil #quiltmarket #slc

A photo posted by Man Sewing with Rob Appell (@mansewing) on

** Rob’s Thread box will be available soon, we’ll keep you updated in the newsletter and on social media! **


Best request of the day, “Can I touch your hair??” #mansewing #hair #quiltmarket

A photo posted by Man Sewing with Rob Appell (@mansewing) on

Is it a flower, or a hat? We’ll let you decide!!

Rob on the Road

We can’t believe it’s already the middle of March! Time sure has zipped right by! You know what they say though, time flies when you’re having fun and that’s exactly how Rob has felt! He has been a busy guy, traveling and teaching his passion of quilting! So far this year, he has been up and down the California coast doing what he does best, having fun with his fans!!! If you’ve ever had the chance to meet Rob, then you understand how passionate he is about quilting! No matter where he goes, he’s bringing it up in conversation! At the grocery store, on the beach, on the plane to Hamilton, MO to film new tutorials, he really wants the world to know how great sewing is! Thank you for following along with Man Sewing and helping Rob to share his passion for quilting with you!! Check out these fun photos from the last few months of Rob’s travels!

Shawn from trends
Shawn said, It was great meeting you in person during Trends at EE Schenck here in Portland today. I have been quilting for 2 years now and it’s a blast. Thanks for sharing your enthusiasm for quilting, your journey and your faith today. It was awesome!


Missy from Sacramento said, "Thank you for sharing your quilts and your story Rob!"
Missy from Sacramento said, “Thank you for sharing your quilts and your story Rob!”


Judy said, "I attended Rob's event at Meissner's Sewing and Learning Center in Sacramento yesterday. WOW! I came home so inspired, both by his amazing art quilts but most of all by him. Incredible man with a wonderful story!"
Judy said, “I attended Rob’s event at Meissner’s Sewing and Learning Center in Sacramento yesterday. WOW! I came home so inspired, both by his amazing art quilts but most of all by him. Incredible man with a wonderful story!”

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Check out all of Rob’s upcoming events HERE!

4 Year Anniversary!

February 20th is my 4 year anniversary. For the past few years I have been celebrating my recovery from alcohol addiction by hiking deep into the wilderness and enjoying nature with my newest coin. This year was the 4 year marker without a drink, so my 12 year old son and I did a three day backpack trip in Bug Sur, CA. The destination was Sykes Hot Springs and it was an enjoyable 21 mile hike! My son was a fantastic hiking partner and one of the major reasons I quit drinking. What a blessing to have this time together, a time both of us will always remember. I’m so thankful for the wonderful life I now have and the opportunities I have to improve myself to be a better me every single day. Life is good, friends! Thanks for supporting me in this journey!

Here are some photos I took from our trip!

To thine own self be true. Unity, Service and Recovery. Happy 4 years to me!


The necessities! Our packs with food and water for 3 days and all of the tools we would need to be safe!


My son is such a great role model for his little sister. I sure am proud of this boy and all of his goals!
4 Years!!!
Me and my coin after a soak in the Hot Springs!


I’ve loved being able to share this special time with him!

Last year’s token was also a special one for me. I’m proud of who I am today because of the changes I’ve made in my life.

Celebrate with me today, 3 years without a drink. Amazing how my life and art have improved!!

A photo posted by Man Sewing with Rob Appell (@mansewing) on

2015 in Review

Wow, what a year! We have LOVED 2015 here at Man Sewing! We released a bunch of fun tutorials, made new friends, bonded over our love of fabric and learned a lot! 2015 was a year to remember for sure! We are so thankful for the milestones we were able to hit because of our loyal followers that we’ve gained since the launch of Man Sewing in February of this year. Because of our viewers we were able to release a brand new tutorial every single Monday along with a bunch of bonus videos. That’s 49 tutorials, 11 Quick Tips and many more fun videos. We wouldn’t of been able to do it if we didn’t have people watching them! So thank you! We hit some huge milestones like 25,000 subscribers and 2 million (almost)  views on YouTube! Wow, our followers rock!!!

Our most popular quilting tutorial this year was the 3 Dudes Quilt with a Twist. Jenny Doan of Missouri Star joined the set for this one and man did we have a blast filming this tutorial! I think it’s safe to say that we had even MORE fun looking at all of the pictures that came in of the beautiful quilts that were made following this tutorial. There is something truly special about teaching something to a camera, not knowing who will watch or what they will think of it, but then seeing pictures of someone’s own version of that project. Jenny has been doing this longer than I have and I couldn’t agree more with her when she says that every single photo that is shared with her will forever be a treasured spot in her heart. Keep those pictures coming, my friends. We really do love looking at them and admiring what our fans are making!

Our most popular Facebook post in 2015 was our introduction to the “How to Hem Jeans” tutorial. This one was a great skill to teach and we were happy with the response it got. Just like anything in life, people have their preferences and hemming jeans this way just happened to be our preferred method. We learned a lot from our fans about what they did to hem pants, why they liked our version or why they didn’t. We love the feedback good and bad from our followers. As we continue to grow Man Sewing we look for the good AND bad, so we appreciate every comment and message that comes through. Thank you again for your awesome feedback!!


Our most popular Instagram post was something silly that we found on Pinterest recently. We’re not surprised this one got more attention with the hype of the new Star Wars movie. Who doesn’t love some good sewing humor??

Coming in close second on Instagram was this one… Again, humor wins in our book! We spent the year smiling and laughing every single day. It’s hard to not be so happy when we get to work with the best fans every day! 

In 2015 we had our very first Surf’s Up Retreat at Missouri Star Quilt Company! The turnout was small but that made the whole weekend a more personal experience for us and the retreaters! Many of you know that Man Sewing is powered by MSQC, so it was a no brainer that we should have a Man Sewing retreat! The awesome Retreat Staff at Missouri Star put everything together and it was a blast! We’re already looking forward to the Man Sewing Retreat in 2016! Take a look at the fun we had at the retreat here:

Surf's Up Retreat

Towards the end of the summer we started using a fun app called Periscope. Periscope allows us to have a live interactive video chat. Thanks to some helpful followers, we were able to start saving those videos with another app called Katch. The scopes were a blast because we can do them anywhere with cell service! Our most popular recorded Periscope was one we did about Thread Shredding. You can watch the rest of the periscopes HERE!

Another exciting event that happened in 2015 was the Color Strata tutorial and BOOK!!! Color Strata was a quilt made long before the days of Man Sewing but we were SO excited to get this tutorial filmed and a book published! The Color Strata quilt was on the cover of Quilting for You, a European quilting magazine this year. The quilt has also been on traveling displays around the country. Color Strata was the perfect tutorial to end 2015.  Missouri Star will soon be carrying ALL of the Cotton Couture color ways from Michael Miller Fabrics. We sure do love Michael Miller fabrics at Man Sewing, so we are EXCITED!!! You can grab our new book HERE!

All in all, 2015 was good to us. We accomplished a lot and made the best memories, all thanks to YOU! We can’t thank you enough for helping us make Man Sewing into something incredible. We look forward to what 2016 has in store for us. Thanks for being so loyal and following along with the content we’re putting out. Have a Happy New Year!!

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Bonus Video: Periscope’s with Rob

We’ve got quite the collection of bonus videos for you and we’re excited to share them here on!

From here on out we’ll be updating the blog weekly with the newest scopes! Be sure to subscribe to the newsletter so you don’t miss a thing! Here are the scopes we have saved so far! We hope you enjoy these bonus videos with Rob as the cameraman!

Surf’s Up Retreat

I had so much fun at the Surf’s Up Retreat at Missouri Star Quilt Company! What a blast to spend one on one time with those that traveled to come to my retreat! Because we had a smaller group we were all able to spread out our sewing supplies and use the spacious Sewing Center to our advantage! Let’s just take a minute and talk about this Sewing Center. Nothing is better than a comfortable space with amazing lighting and plenty of space to spread out.  Anyways, here are a few pictures of the Sewing Center!

This town is amazing! Definitely a place to visit at least once! Notice the flag… The local football team is on fire this year and headed to state if they win one more game! The whole town was painted blue and gold for the Hornets!

The whole place was a quilting inspiration. I may have a few new motifs up my sleeve after being in there all weekend!!

On the first night of the retreat we had my trunk show! The trunk show was pretty sweet! I even brought in all of the projects I was filming this last week and previewed those! I love it when I get to spoil those who come to my retreats! Here’s a little shout out to Jenny, Ron and their son, Josh for coming to the trunk show! And another HUGE shout out to Mr. Jenny for holding all my quilts while I spoke! rob, jenny ,josh Here are a few photos from the trunk show! Each of the quilts in my trunk show have a story. Some are funny, others tug on your heart a little but all of the quilts have a place in my heart and have shaped who I am today. You’ll have to come to one of my trunk shows to hear the stories!


Dolphin Dance
That’s Mr. Ron Doan AKA Mr. Jenny! See that surfboard in the background? Mr. Jenny made it! He even went and bought lace and then spray painted over it to give it an awesome pattern! Thanks, Ron!!!


The first Seascapes quilt I ever did, I’ve come a long ways!

When the trunk show was over, Susan (who ran the retreat center) was kind enough to hang up every single quilt! It totally added to the ambiance and put us in caffeinated sewing mode! IMG_6860

These one's were pretty popular this weekend, it's hard not to fall in love with quilts that have animals though, especially when the quilts carry an amazing story!
These one’s were pretty popular this weekend, it’s hard not to fall in love with quilts that have animals though, especially when the quilts carry an amazing story for an amazing cause!


quilts on the walls
I love a wall filled with quilts and a floor filled with sewing machines and fabric! Doesn’t this look like a party to you?!

quilts on wallMore quilts! PS the green one on the back wall is an upcoming tutorial!

Close up of one of my quilts! The Twizzal Orizzinal


dancing dots
Closeup of the Dancing Dots Quilt! I’ve been wanting to experiment more with free motion quilting. I really enjoy it!


I loved the quilts hanging up so much that I did a live video chat showing them all!! You can watch that HERE!

Here are some pictures from my 3 Dudes Class I taught! This one has always been a popular one and the retreaters LOVED this quilt. Almost as much as I loved their own renditions. Most of them had already started sewing strip sets and cutting blocks before the class even started! We were all so excited about this quilt! 3dudes class

It was awesome to see the quilts come together with completely different fabrics! They were all so unique!


sewing strips
These vibrant colors were so refreshing! I’m a lover of all things bright!


I can’t tell you how much I LOVE batiks! These ones were awesome!


I think the best part of the whole retreat was watching these quilts come together! I was in awe!
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I spy a Man Sewing t-shirt and lots of awesome fabric!! We had so much space to spread out and get comfy!


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I’m glad my wife wasn’t with me at this retreat, she might have been stealing this fabric for her stash!!! 🙂 Such a fun print!


Busy, busy, busy!


These fabrics were right up my alley!


And you can never go wrong with a Moda Grunge!


orange and red

I’m so in love with this quilt! The colors were fun and her smile makes it that much better! We love happy sewers!!

After hours of sewing it was time to take a field trip to the shops! With a smaller group it’s easy to do that! We walked through some of the shops, I showed them my favorite products and we even got to practice our Free Motion Quilting on a Crown Jewel in the new Machine Shed! What an awesome store!

Machine Shed

machine shed
The window displays were pretty slick! Such a cool idea!


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Doesn’t she look like she’s glowing??! That’s because she was in the quilting destination of the world, at an awesome retreat of course! 😉


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Mid sentence photos are always the most attractive I think… Notice that I have my french press traveling coffee kit in my hands. I needed the caffeine!


Rob fixing the crown jewel
Being a sewing machine technician has it’s perks. Like when the bobbin runs out after 10 seconds of quilting and the entire group is bummed out. Rob to the rescue!!! (Thankfully it was an easy fix and we were on our way quilting again!)


macine shed
She was a natural!!


machine quilting
I’ll give you 2 guesses who quilted these flames… Not my best but hey, not bad for my first time on this machine!

On Saturday we had our Reverse Applique Class! I’m amazed at what this group created!! Here are a few pictures of the fun!

Can you tell what it’s going to be??


I think she had the best spot in the house! With the sun resting on her back all weekend, what a relaxing way to sew!!


What an awesome idea!! I’ll have to make more of these bad boys when I get home! I feel so inspired after spending the weekend sewing with this group!


This dragon is so slick! Crazy intricate design!


This is a sample that I brought along with me!


Phillip's design
Phillip’s creation was so cool! So much talent at this retreat!!

Look at this good looking group!!!  

Here are some of the Reverse Appliqué creations from today’s class!! #mansewing #surfsup #quiltretreat #appliqué   A photo posted by Man Sewing with Rob Appell (@mansewing) on

All in all the Surf’s Up Retreat was awesome! We made new friendships, bonded over our love of fabric, made a few quilts and most importantly… had fun!!! We hope to make this a tradition and do a Surf’s Up Retreat every year! I’ll be sure to let you all know when we have the dates set in stone!


I wanted to take a quick second to say THANK YOU for all the love you’ve shown on this new channel! It has grown faster than I ever expected and it makes my heart swell! Thanks for watching the tutorials and sharing the love! I wouldn’t be able to do what I do without you!!

Missouri Star Quilt Company gave me this skateboard deck as I reached a few goals of mine. The goals were to get 1 million views on YouTube and reach 25 thousand subscribers on YouTube! After 6 short months I made it! All thanks to YOU! I’m giving everyone virtual hugs and high-fives! You rock! Thanks for letting me live my dream of teaching quilting for a living!

My board found it’s new home on my studio wall and I must say, it’s perfect!