Rob Appell – The Next Chapter

(Originally published November 2019 in SCHMETZ Inspired to SEW #71. Article written by Rita Farro.)


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 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.

Click HERE to read about Rob’s next chapter.

A Gem for Every Month: The Birthstone Series

A Gem for Every Month: The Birthstone SeriesIt was a challenge bringing 12 birthstone block patterns to market, but MJ Kinman loved every step of the way. She loved finding the gems that inspired each design. She loved charting out the design and the colors so that the gems sparkled with the fewest amount of facets. This was important to her, because she wanted to be sure that the blocks were not overwhelming to makers and did not have so many fabrics that they broke the budget. She knows that small pieces are hard to manage for people with dexterity issues. “I have some arthritis in my hands, so working with tiny pieces isn’t fun. I wanted my blocks to be a joy to put together. I wanted the pieces to be manageable for all makers.”

A Gem for Every Month: The Birthstone SeriesSewing enthusiasts are getting creative with the Birthstone Series. Not only are they creating “Jewel Box” quilts with all 12 blocks, they are making smaller quilts that celebrate the birthday month of each family member. Some enthusiasts are even making mini-quilts with gemstones to celebrate a wedding engagement or the arrival of a new baby. The most surprising development of all – the one that absolutely delights MJ – is that some makers are swapping the fabrics between blocks, creating entirely new gems in gorgeous colors. MJ says, “I’m amazed at the ways people are putting their own creative twist on these patterns.”

A Gem for Every Month: The Birthstone SeriesAs she was designing blocks, MJ fell in love with Paintbrush Studio Fabrics’ line of solids, Painter’s Palette. Together they have packaged little Birthstone Bundles, fat-quarter bundles for each gemstone. ( However, MJ wanted to make her blocks accessible as possible, so she has translated the birthstone colors into additional lines of solid fabrics. To find the color translations for Kona Cotton, Michael Miller Cotton Couture, and Hoffman’s 1895 Bali Batiks, visit Scroll down to “Fabric Translations” and click on the documents you’ll find there.

A Gem for Every Month: The Birthstone SeriesYou can find MJ’s Birthstone Series patterns at your local independent quilt shop, on your favorite online retailer’s site, or at MJ’s website at


Image of MJ Kinman MJ Kinman’s Gems of Wisdom . . .

Recommendation: I use SCHMETZ Microtex needles to piece my hand-dyed cotton sateen fabrics. I love the way they glide through the fabric and result in perfect stitches.

Tip: Change your needle every 5 hours of stitching or at least with every new project. Your machine, your quilts, and your blood pressure will love you for it!

 SCHMETZ Chrome Microtex Needle     SCSHMETZ Microtex Needle


MJ Kinman – Textile Artist