Rob Appell

"The Surfing Quilter"

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About Me

The Man Behind it All

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I love teaching people to sew and quilt. Inspiring creativity is my passion! I got my hands on a needle and thread at a very young age and I’ve always enjoyed making art. For the past several years I’ve been blessed to be a textile designer and quilt educator as the host of Man Sewing. Now I teach quilting all around the world.  

My Medium

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  I am known for the machine quilted art quilts I have created over the past twenty years. But, like all artists, I often find myself inspired to work in other mediums as well like embroidery, knitting, wood, pen and ink, as well as music. I’ve even created a unique quilting tool called the Shark Applicutter.  

My Inspiration

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  When I’m not behind a sewing machine you’ll find me in my native habitat: surfing and hiking on the beautiful California coast! I’m an advocate for wildlife conservation and I also play the guitar. Many of my quilts are directly influenced by the time I spend in nature and feature landscapes, animals, and music. 

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Featured Products

the Shark Applicutter

The Shark Applicutter slices through fabric like a fin through water, making applique easier than ever. It began as a passion project for him over five years ago and now his vision has finally come to life! Here’s the story of how the Shark Applicutter came to be.


When I began my Endangered Species project, I started using the smallest rotary cutter I could find, an 18mm, to cut out the tiny fabric shapes. 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 quilting 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. That's when I began to design the Shark Applicutter. 


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 help 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. who helped open the door.

It has been a five-year process to bring the Shark Applicutter to life 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!


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!

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