Rita Farro – Our Favorite Wordsmith

Rita Farro,
Madeira Beach, Florida.

Just three miles from the Mississippi River, in the Iowa cornfields, you’ll find Rita Farro at home. If it’s Monday, there are sheets drying on a clothesline after being laundered in a hand painted washer & dryer (doesn’t everyone embellish home appliances?), enticing chocolate peanut butter cake baking in the oven, and Grandma Camp activities in progress. Mix in a laptop and a cell phone, Rita rocks my sewing world with heart and enthusiasm sprinkled with sarcasm.

Who is Rita Farro? If you have been reading SCHMETZ Inspired to Sew since issue #1, then you have read Rita’s writing. Rita interviews the feature talent each month. Her mission is to tell their sewing stories in writing for publication. With countless classes from the Des Moines Writers’ Workshop, Rita has honed her craft. Rita is a writer.

Rita and our own Rhonda Pierce met over 10 years ago in Las Vegas at the Vacuum and Sewing Dealers Trade Association (VDTA) wholesale show. They exchanged pleasantries. Rhona was a bit intimidated by Rita’s confidence and boldness. They have mutual industry friends. Their paths crossed at the now defunct American Sewing Expo in Novi, MI. As a vendor, Rhonda was interacting with Rita, public relations director for the show. Again, their paths crossed with Rita as publicity director for the Sewing & Stitchery Expo in Puyallup, WA.

Funny, Rhonda doesn’t remember the exact date that she called Rita asking if she would like to come on board as an advisor for product placement and marketing, although Rhonda is certain she could document the conversation in one of her work journals. That was 10 years ago, and their brainstorming and conversations now are just as spirited and insightful as our first.

Click HERE to read the full story at www.issuu.com.


Inspired to SEW, Five Years in Review

Inspired to SEW, Five Years in Review CoverIt’s true . . . time flies when you’re having fun.

When SCHMETZ Inspired to SEW was first created in 2014, we committed to a year. After the first twelve monthly issues, how could we stop? Readership and shares are strong. More importantly, we see stories to be told. SITS is not about techniques and how-to’s. Instead, we focus on the creative spirits contributing to our sewing and quilting community. We are surrounded by compelling stories revolving around the love of sewing. Our list for future interviews and features is so long, we will never publish everyone or every topic.

Issue #60 was a celebration of five years. We created an index so you can review sewing stars and discover new talent. SITS is a collaboration between friends and colleagues, Rhonda Pierce, Rita Farro and Paul Ragas. We enjoy shining light on the talent and stories that make our community great. We hope time flies as you are Inspired to SEW!

Click HERE to view and read 5+ years of SCHMETZ Inspired to SEW!


Recycle,Restyle,Refashion – Part 4 – Gail Yellen

Upcycle Recycle Logo & Definitions


Part 4 of the series: Recycle,Restyle,Refashion. For generations, women who sew have been recycling. They start with one thing and, with their sewing skills and imagination — a transformation results into a completely different thing. Patchwork quilting began because frugal women couldn’t afford to waste any bit of usable fabric. They needed to save money, and had to “make do” with materials on hand. In the process, they created something useful and beautiful that would be handed down from grandmother to daughter to granddaughter.

Over the past four weeks you have met four women who are as different as the things they choose to recycle . . . but what they share is the desire to give new life . . . transforming the ordinary and familiar into something extraordinary. There are as many names for it as there are different ways to do it. Whether you call it recycling, upcycling, refashion or restyling — the desire to create something new from something old has always existed in the soul of women and men who love to sew. And it is truly the perfect way for the past to touch the present and the future. The added benefit is that when you start with something like a sweater that your mother loved, or a shirt your Dad wore to work, or a doily your favorite Aunt embroidered — the project takes on a special meaning. It becomes a labor of love, and a treasured memory gift.


Gail Yellen is one of the most popular speakers on today’s sewing circuit. Inspired To SEW has featured Gail before (http://tinyurl.com/ydha4k3c) … and, at this point in her accidental sewing career, is considered THE Serger Guru. Her book, Serger Essentials: Master the Basics and Beyond, published by Fons and Porter, gets rave reviews from serger owners, new or old. Her mission was to demystify the serger and help sewists get the most out of their machine!

One of Gail’s early successes was a project about recycling sweaters . . . well, we’ll let her tell it . . . .

“Of all the projects and garments sewn over the years, this one is the nearest and dearest to my heart. My mother died in November 2008 and as my sister and I folded her clothes to donate to a local thrift shop, I looked at the stack of wool sweaters — a lovely palette of beiges, creams, whites and taupes. A recycling idea began to take shape. I was fascinated with felting wool knits. The process is fun, uncomplicated and produces amazing results. Felted wool is easy to sew and embellish, and the warmth of a felted garment is a big plus during Connecticut winters.

Why not take four or five sweaters, felt them and create a collage jacket? I had recently designed the Counterpoints Jacket and it was perfect for this project. The collaged surface design became Template Set 1 in a series of three.

Counterpoints Jacket

Counterpoints Jacket

In 2009, the American Sewing Guild announced a contest — Remake, Reuse, Restyle. My jacket met all of the criteria. I filled out the contest application, sent the photos and it was one of the three winning entries. (I like to think that my mother had a hand in that!)”

All patterns, interfacing and template sets are available for purchase on her website.