Tales Of A Fourth Generation Textile Executive: The Roads Are Endless For Scott’s Free Sewing Machines

My favorite poem of all time is the Road Not Taken (you can listen to it here).  I always like to revert back to this poem because it is very relevant in life and especially in my life.  Of late, I think about the different roads that Scott’s Free Sewing Machine project has taken me down and it is truly remarkable because without the adventures, I would be on the same old boring path.  Remember happy boring Scott?  Life is too short to just be on auto-pilot down the same path day in and day out.  Sometimes you just gotta mix things up and stir the pot.

Let’s talk about the roads.  The first road I was taken down was the road to Freedom Place in Houston.  This was all thanks to Linda Yarrow for her request for a machine to help find a creative outlet for the residents (young sex trafficking victims) of Freedom Place.  To be honest, I think that this road I was taken down changed my life forever.  It opened my eyes to the barbaric ways of some people in our society and it touched my heart so badly that I couldn’t sit there and not try to help.  So I helped and helped and I will continue to help.  In short, aside from providing fabric and financial support, I helped to facilitate Freedom Place getting 17 sewing machines so all of their residents would have their own machine thanks to SVP (Singer Viking Pfaff–10 machines) and my BFF Joanne (7 machines).

Another eye-opener on the Freedom Place front was when my new friend, Jennifer, who works at the Freedom Place, spoke at a dinner that Jaftex hosted at quilt market for about 30 people.   After Jennifer spoke, there was not a dry eye in the room, but in spite of it being very sad to hear, it made everyone in that room want to help those youngsters being sex trafficked. Trust me when I tell you that no one will forget what Jennifer said that night.

Let’s talk about another road.  How could I forget the #sewrevolution?  The sewing revolution that I have been promoting would not have been a thing if I didn’t start giving away free sewing machines.  The idea just popped in to my head one day that if there are more sewing machines being used, more people will be quilting and sewing and this will help reverse the negative trends in the fabric industry.  So why not promote it as such?  This byproduct of the free sewing machine giveaway is such a noble cause because it is helping to keep this industry alive and kicking…an industry that my family has been involved with since the early 1900’s.  It may seem selfish of me, but this is my livelihood and I need to do what I can to support it and keep it alive and kicking for as long as possible.  All those future generations of Fortunoff’s are going to need jobs.  And I do love my job.  I do love seeing the beautiful things that people create with fabric.  I do love seeing the smile on people’s face when they see our fabrics.  I love selling fabric.  I love the kind people in our industry.  If that isn’t enough to try to keep this baby alive, I don’t know what is.  Are you with me?

There are just so many roads that I don’t know which should be discussed next.  OK, let’s talk about my friend Emelia.  When I select sewing machine recipients, I only ask 2 simple things of them in return for the machine:

  1.  Pay it forward.
  2. Share photos with me of the machine and all that is being made because I want to feel good about having chosen each recipient.

Anyway, with respect to #2 (sharing photos), Emelia is my star.  In fact, she is becoming a staple on all the Jaftex social media sites.  Every time that she makes something we post the pictures.  All the social media followers are getting a lot of joy out of watching Emelia grow with the help of her new sewing machine.  They are all cheering her on and being so supportive…it is amazing.  She is now being commissioned to do work and getting paid.  She is taking lots of classes.  She is going to work with me to try to create a local kids club of young quilters and we are discussing so much more.   Emelia talks about working at Jaftex one day which would be so cool if it really happened.  In addition, Blank Quilting is going to honor her by naming a line after her. In any case, to say that she is a changed person for the better because of fabric and a sewing machine would be a major understatement.  And this folks is why we need to keep promoting all the great art that can be produced with fabric.  Keep up the good work Emelia.  Thank you for being such an inspiration.

Oh the roads….there are so many and will be so many more.  For me, the road that I most cherish is the photographs of all the recipients smiling with their machines.  I just can’t get enough of that because a photo speaks a million words.  But it is not just the words, it is the future possibilities that arise because of a new sewing machine, because of fabric and because of our amazing fabric industry.

These are all my new roads and there are lots of other endless ones ahead.   So, we continue the march down the untraveled roads.   Hopefully you will continue to join me to see the surprises that lie ahead around each corner.

Have a great week.  Happy President’s Day!



P.S..…Here is where you can find my Executive Facebook page.

P.S.S.… Also, please subscribe to my blog and get notifications when new blogs are posted.  Look up on the right side of this blog to register.

995 words including these.


Author: Scott Fortunoff

Author of Tales of 4th Generation Textile Executive Blog. President of Studioe Fabrics, The Blank Quilting Corp. and A.E. Nathan Co., Inc. Co-President of FreeSpirit Fabrics. V-P of Henry Glass Fabrics. President of Scott’s Free Sewing Machines. Creator of the #sewrevolution.

23 thoughts on “Tales Of A Fourth Generation Textile Executive: The Roads Are Endless For Scott’s Free Sewing Machines”

  1. Wishing all the best to Emelia. All of this support and attention will change her life in a profound way and hopefully propel her to a very successful path in life.

  2. Thank you for taking action, and not just feeling sympathy. People get worked up about so many things, but never take a step. Symbolism over substance rules around most of social media. Thank you for taking concrete, directed actions towards a worthy goal.

  3. What a refreshing and encouraging post! You are living proof that one man, a kind heart, and a mission can make a huge impact again and again and again. It’s the ripple effect. All because of your first stone. Thank you, Scott, for picking up the stone in the first place, hoping to make a difference. You certainly have, and I am sure, will continue to impact Eternity!

    1. Hi Barb,
      Picture this: I am standing next to a pile of stones and I am throwing like crazy. Hoping to hit some people square on the head without leaving any marks or injuries. Consider it a rocking wake up call. Talk soon.

  4. Keep up the good work, Scott! You are making a difference! Many of us would hate to see the sewing industry die out or go downhill.
    I’ve offered to help people here in my little town to learn to sew. They will say “I wish I could sew!” I always respond to just let me know, and I’ll be glad to help you. No one has ever committed. It definitely has to be a true desire as everyone has so much on their plates these days.

  5. That is my favorites Robert Frost poem; and the book The Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck is a good read as well. I’ve read both many times and always find them inspiring. As a matter of fact, I have the book checked out from the library right now. I really think I should just buy it and leave it on one of the end tables so I can read pertinent parts of it as the need/desire arises. 🙂

    I love being a part of the #sewrevolution; and I love seeing pictures of the recipients and their machines. I’ve been following Emelia and her journey and am thrilled with what she’s doing. How exciting to know that there will be a line with her name! No matter what the theme of the fabric, I’ve already made a decision to use some for charity/donation quilts because I think it’s just fitting to do so.

    The #sewrevolution has provided path options for many people that were simply not there before. You and the entire Jaftex community should be proud of what you are doing. You’ve chosen to stray from the comfortable, safe, and known road (the road of just producing and selling your products as you’ve always done), to journey down the road that includes taking chances on other people. (There is always the possibility that someone just wants a new machine and fabricates a story to get one.) While your decisions and path choices may not be easy, they are recognized. Because of you, many in the sewing community are stepping up and taking part in the #sewrevolution. Thank you!

    1. Hi Joanne,
      I might have to check out that book. Sounds interesting.
      We are blessed to have you involved with #sewrevolution. Your contributions have been great and are much appreciated. I know I can always count on you.
      Thanks in advance for your support of Emelia’s line.
      Well I hope you are right and my #sewrevolution is in fact not going on deaf ears. And with that, we march on.
      Have a great week.

  6. Scott,
    What a joyful story about Emelia. You have done it again. She is so young, vibrate and obviously “talented” that she will inspire the younger generation to get on board and create some great artistic work. What a wonderful career opportunity for her and your company to grow into a new market. Congratulations and best wishes to her.

    Also, thanks for all you do, least of all donating so much time, energy, and public awareness for Freedom Place. You may have provided their postal address before, but could you share it again. We are at a better place now and my husband and I would like to send a donation.

    The tourist season is open in the Florida Keys now, but the homeowners are still working hard and struggling. We are blessed and we have gotten our house “dried in” and can spend more time helping our residents and community. Contractors are in short demand and working on 8-10 months out on appointments. Some local folks just don’t have the funds to rebuild or hold out and have moved away. Others still need help with housing, food, medical care and necessities. The churches have really rallied and provide life supporting care for so many. The Catholic church was destroyed and must tear down and rebuild. The other churches are providing shelter, meals, and other services to many with the help of volunteers. FEMA has left the area and local residents have taken over to provide help.

    This is the first, (but second hurricane) that we have experienced here. The first hurricane was over twenty years ago (minor damage) and we will young, ambitious, employed elsewhere with good paying jobs and this was just a second home. We hired contractors, wrote checks, and it was no big deal. We are now retired and this is our home and we are forever humbled and changed by the devastation caused to our friends and neighbors. Previously, we would hear of disasters and donate small amounts (for a tax deduction) and said “well, at least FEMA will be there to help.” Now we realize that it is other people, churches, and charities that do the heavy lifting afterward for not months but years to rebuild the communities. Not to mention what is happening in Puerto Rico.

    Scott, I don’t know if you remember but I do that you ask me “can’t you afford to buy a new machine” and I said “yes, but right now having a machine will give me a reprieve while we deal with the emotional shock of handling the damage to our home and our neighbors.” I though for sure that was the end of the conversation. BUT it wasn’t….you said you would still send me a machine.
    I cannot even begin to tell you what that felt like emotionally and mentally for me.
    It was unbelievable!!! My husband ask me what the call was about and could not believe I was crying over a sewing machine at a time like this. Now he understands that “loss” means different things to different people. His loss was the work and pride he had in our home, my loss was the small, light Brothers machine that I kept here to piece quilt tops on while we spend our winters here . Then I took the tops to TN where I have large sewing room with a long arm and quilted them to be given to charities, friends and anyone in need of one. So I felt like I had lost a precious part of my life, my identity, my passion that was only found after I retired and no longer wanted to be identified by success or title.
    A long story just to say again “thank you.” You may never know the success of your actions, but I wanted you to know. Charity does not only apply to those who have a monetary loss…..and you felt or knew that and treated me with compassion.

    Clean up and rebuilding continue in our small community but everyone is helping each other and we are beginning to joke, smile, laugh and some funny conversations as we move on. We do have a roofer who dried in our roof and it will be months but we are happy and content to be busy with other rebuilding projects within our neighbor and county.
    I am enjoying the machine every day. I ordered fabric and thread online and I claim two hours a day as “my therapy time” to pet the fabric and thread.
    The machine is working great for piecing and I do enjoy it very much. My plan is to have our granddaughter come a few week on her summer break as she has ask me to teach her to sew. We have made travel arrangements for her to come during summer school vacation. She has a birthday in July and will be 11, and she ask me to teach her to sew as she is very much into artsy crafts and clothes. She will stay until she feels safe and competent and I will give her the EverSewn machine and explain how I got the machine and your stories. I’ll send her home with lots of fabric, sewing tools and supplies, magazines for children projects and some cash so she and her Mom can go to their local fabric stores and she can explore on her own. She is so excited that she can’t wait for school to end. You have created another enthusiastic sewer.

    Thanks again and warmest regards,

      2929 FM 2920 Rd. Spring, TX 77388

      Hi Mary,
      What a lengthy and thought provoking commentary. Bottom line is that it sounds like selecting you was the right decision. Thanks for bringing me up to speed. Good luck with everything.

  7. Hi Scott,

    Thank you! I have just discovered your blog! I wish I had sooner but better late than never, right. I have been sewing for over 40 years, it is my passion and has recently become my full time job. My husband and I started a Longarm business out of our home and I’m inspired daily by the imagination, creativity and talent of quilters. In addition I started teaching sewing to young children at a local community center. The kids come to class with such enthusiasm and motivation to make their next project. Many had never sewn before and now they are making bags, skirts, pajamas and more. My challenge is to find new projects and fabrics to inspire and challenge them. When I began teaching we had 6 girls and three machines but they were so eager to learn they happily shared the machines. I am happy to say that I teach two days a week and both classes are full with 8 to 10 children laughing, helping each other and sewing succefully.

    I am also happy to say that due to the kind generosity of local quilters we now have enough sewing machines so each child can have there own.

    I love fabric and everything sewing and how luck am I that I get to share my passion with a new enthusiastic generation.

    Thank you for you and your company are doing for our industry!


  8. Hi Scott!

    I was referred to your Facebook and blog by a really cool lady I had the great opportunity to take a community sewing class from earlier this year, Erin Wentzl.

    Though the last few generations of my family on both sides were great seamstresses, sewing all of the children’s clothes, my mother was busy working and raising us, so though it was a great interest of mine she wasnt able to pass her knowledge on to my brother and I.

    We devestatingly lost my father, her lifelong best friend and companion a few years back, and though it has taken time to pick up the pieces, we are slowly mending our sunken hearts. My mother has expressed interest in getting back into what she was once so passionate for, and I am grateful for the opportunity to learn more and eventually be able to create things for myself and my daughter.

    It is so wonderful that you are so encouraging about sharing your love of the art and the industry, and I really appreciate your consideration in entering us for your machine give away. We are all your newest very big fans!! Thank you so much for all you do!!

  9. Hi Scott. Just lost my husband January 7th from cancer. I took care of him at home because that’s where he wanted to be, home with me and the kids. I don’t have any extra money right now because I won’t start getting a widows social security till middle of June. Financially, things are tough, nightmarish to be honest, and probably won’t improve for awhile. He didn’t have any life insurance, so I have to watch every nickel. I would really like to make some quilts and pillows out of some of his clothes for the kids and me. That way he will always be close. We are all still pretty sad. I have been washing and sorting clothes for this purpose trying to move on, but it has been difficult. I think having quilts around for us all, may help give us the comfort we need. What you are doing is wonderful and maybe you could put me on your list. Sometimes it’s just so lonely and I think getting back into sewing may help. Thanks for the consideration….. you are really wonderful! I’m hoping after things settle down a bit and I get back on my feet, I can make some lap quilts for the cancer center my husband got his treatments at. The people that work there are wonderful and I know they would appreciate it. Thank again!

  10. My daughter could use one of your sewing machines! She wants mine but I need it myself! She is 32 with a 10 month old daughter and 37 weeks pregnant with daughter number 2. The Dad’s in jail in VA. She left there and moved in with a girl she knew in high school, trading babysitting for a place to live! She has done a lot to change her life for her children and would like to learn to sew. She wants to make thing to sell. She wants to care for her daughters and make a living. If she is the type of person you are looking for I will teach her how to use it! Thank you for your consideration

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