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A glimpse into the creative heart of today’s most talented sewing & quilting artists.

Rob Appell Issue #71


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In this Issue: Sewing Star:

Rob Appell Page 3

Needle Points:

Pages 10 & 11


On Set with Rob Appell

Story by:

Rita Farro


Provided by Rob Appell

Rhonda & Rob meet up at International Quilt Market, Houston TX, October 2019.

Update! Two years have passed since Rita Farro’s first interview with Rob Appell. Opportunities have changed and Rob is reinventing himself, this time with Michael Miller Fabrics. With interests in surfing, fabric, and YouTube, Rob has found balance while serving local quilt shops and ultimately, inspiring thousands of hands-on creatives. Rob also updates his impressive full circle journey with And The Flag Was Still There quilt. When you finish reading about Rob, hop on over to the Rob’s Making It Fun You Tube channel. You, too, will want to ride the quilt waves! Sew SCHMETZ & Grabbit® Too!

Layout/Design: Paul Ragas

What Inspires YOU to Sew?

Rhonda Pierce Spokesperson,

There’s an App for That!


Issue #71

Sewing Star

Rob Appell Making It Fun

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Rob Appell Some people think of their life as a book, and each year is a new chapter. Rob Appell thinks of his life as a surfboard ride, and each year is a new, exciting wave, accompanied by a Rock and Roll soundtrack. And, just as he was riding high as the star of the popular YouTube channel, Man Sewing, Missouri Star Quilt Company canceled Man Sewing, so Rob was suddenly unemployed. “I was pretty low and heartbroken, but, after I settled into my new reality, I realized I had a whole new set of skills to take out into the world.”


For starters, Rob knew he could make his own video magic happen. “Content was never an issue. My head is always racing with a dozen ideas for new sewing projects. At Man Sewing, I came up with all the creative concepts and did the sewing. But it was filmed by a team of people running up to five cameras and microphones, plus a photographer and writer for patterns and magazines. I never touched a camera, mic or editing software.” Rob believes the beating heart of the quilting industry is the independent retailer. After all, he got his start in his mother’s quilt shop, The Cotton Ball, in Morro Bay, California. His new challenge would be to bring together his creativity and his new video skills to benefit those brick and mortar stores. Rob

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knew he could come up with the content, but he also wanted to film, edit, and write the music. To develop this ambitious platform, he knew he would need a partner. He didn’t have to look far. He realized the answer to your future lies in seeds from your past. It was almost ten years ago when Rob first teamed up with Michael Miller Fabrics to build awareness about our planet and her endangered species. Rob created twelve "up-close and personal" quilts featuring these special creatures, focusing on the eyes of the creature.

So, when Rob approached Michael Miller Fabrics about creating a YouTube channel to support the independent retailer, they immediately saw his vision. They teamed up to create the YouTube channel, “Making it Fun.” Like most adventures, this one had its moments of uncertainty. ”At first, we wanted to offer both live and recorded videos. I wanted as many camera angles as possible. But trying to do it all solo was insane. I started with a pile of broken iPhones, then bought a few mid-line Canon DSLR cameras. I purchased the camera gear from a local shop, because I knew I would need lots of help. The young man spent hours helping me build the tools I needed within a budget that made sense, and he answered a million questions.”

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Rob learned so much while working with that camera shop, it reinforced his new mission. Looking to his future, he thought again about his mother’s quilt shop. He resolved that “Making It Fun” would support independent quilt shops. He knew how hard they worked, and how much help they provided for their customers. Rob wanted the “Making It Fun” channel to feel like a live show. He is getting better all the time at editing in fun special effects, and adding music, but it isn’t going to end there. Besides creating project videos, “Making It Fun” will also be doing quilt shop tour videos, and they just kicked off a trunk show program. Rob is traveling now more than ever, and when


he goes to quilt shops or guild events, he does what he’s always done, he plays with the fabric, sharing his own brand of quilt magic. “It feels like coming home, encouraging folks to appreciate and support their local retailers, the people who work so hard to be there to support quilters and this hobby we love. Your local quilt shop is the first place you go to ask a question when you have an issue, and Michael Miller Fabrics has always recognized that. My videos are not yet the quality of Man Sewing, but I am learning every day. It’s exciting when I do something new with the camera or the light, and I have seen a few moments of genius.”

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Even though this new chapter in Rob’s life was a big “unexpected change,” Rob believes it was the right thing for him at the exact right moment. “Working with Michael Miller Fabrics has been a blessing, because it gets tougher every year for the small, local quilt shop to compete with the internet. We use 'Making It Fun' to show fabric lines to the general public that would be arriving in local shops just the week before. I love creating the projects and the free education, and we finish every show by offering a nice prize. The viewer that wins the prize (usually a bundle of fabric) picks it up in the local quilt shop of their choice. We also include a prize for the shop!”

At Man Sewing, Rob was always in a rush to finish the videos in fifteen minutes or less, but with “Making It Fun,” the show is set for 30 minutes so he can do the show and tell, the prizes, and the project. That change of pace has completely changed his creative process. Rob also wants to create deeper, full length programs, from concept to fully quilted project videos. He wants to tell more of the story, starting with the inspiration, and diving into the actual design process. Rob also enjoys traveling with the Michael Miller sales team. Their goal is to visit local quilt shops to meet with owners and customers to brainstorm new ideas for fabric collections, quilt patterns, and future events they could host.

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And The Flag Was Still There

In our first interview with Rob, SCHMETZ Inspired to SEW #44, we learned about the journey of his quilt, schmetzneedles/docs/its44-aug17?e=10258703/51551723 The update is that Rob now owns that quilt, and it’s in his trunk show. He raised $25,000, which was donated to Operation Homefront. Because he turned in the money during a matching donation push, the quilt was credited for raising $50,000 for our veterans. Rob says, “I am very proud to have completed the mission, and love to tell the story of what we can do just by making quilts and loving others.”

When asked how being a “quilting celebrity” has affected his life, Rob replied, “I’m the same person I’ve always been. At times, I still struggle with feelings of depression and very low motivation. I am constantly being reminded to focus on what matters the most, my family and friends. But there are days when I do not wish to be creative, those are my bad days. I try to look for the good in each day, each situation, and the difference I can make by being present. My best days are when I can use my talents to support and encourage others ... and that matters.”

Rob Appell, Making It Fun YouTube Channel — written by Rita Farro


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On the Road with Rob

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Needle P oints with Rhonda

SCHMETZ Quick Threading Needles No, your needle is not broken. The slit in the eye is there by design. The Quick Threading Needle is designed for sewing enthusiasts with diminished eye sight (or who just have trouble threading the needle). The close-up image illustrates the concept behind the Quick Threading Needle. The Quick Threading Needle is the same as the Universal Needle except for the small threading slot in the eye. This threading slot supports quick and easy threading of the needle. The needle is threaded by drawing the needle thread over the surface of the right side of the needle until it slides into the eye by itself. It is not necessary to change the thread tension. Like the Universal Needle, it can be used for many fabrics. Please do not use the Quick Threading Needle for sensitive fabrics (i.e., silk, microfibre, etc.) as the slot might create pulled threads. It should also not be used for quilting as fibers of the batting might be pulled out. The thickness of the sewing thread being used should be adapted to the needle size. If the sewing thread is too fine (thin), it might slip out of the needle eye. If the sewing thread is too heavy (thick), it might break frequently. #1790 Size 80/12 #1791 Size 90/14


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Needles don't last forever. Change the needle! Stitch quality improves & the sewing machine performs better with a new needle!

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Compliments of Your Local Retailer

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Issue #71