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PARTS OF THE SEWING MACHINE: The Take-Up Lever (or “Goose”)


by Rebecca Szetela, founder and owner

Continuing our discussion of the parts of the sewing machine, let’s talk about the “Take-Up Lever”, fondly know here at Create!® Sewing Studio as the “Goose” … a very important part of the sewing machine. The goose is controlled by the handwheel and the position of the goose is important.

Have you ever tried to take your fabric off the machine after stitching only to find that you yank and yank and it’s hard to get the fabric off the machine? Well look no further than the position of the goose. If the goose is not in the top position when you are ready to take your fabric off the machine, you run the risk of  breaking your machine!

To remove your fabric easily, the machine’s rotary mechanism has to go through it’s full rotation (ever thought about why it is called a “rotary machine”?). The indicator that the sewing machine has gone through it’s full rotation is the goose being up. If, when you finish sewing your seam the goose is not up, turn the handwheel toward you until it is. That completes the rotary stitch. Your sewing machine (and you!) will be much happier!

An additional benefit of paying attention to the position of the goose is that when you finish your seam and you go to stitch your next seam, you won’t pull your thread right out of the needle! Have you ever wondered why you are constantly having to rethread your needle? Well, this may be why! So pay attention to that goose and you will have a happier sewing experience!

By the way, the reason we call it the goose has to do with the next part I will write about….the Presser Foot (or “Pig’s Toes”)! See you soon!

Parts of the Sewing Machine: Your Sewing Machine’s Handwheel

Parts of the sewing machine: The Hand Wheel (It’s that “bump” on the right side of your machine!)

In this series of articles, I thought it might be helpful for those of you who would like to expand your knowledge of sewing, to talk about the parts of the sewing machine. The first part I will discuss is the hand wheel.

The hand wheel is an important part of the sewing machine. Although most sewing enthusiasts love the power of the electric sewing machine, there are times when knowing how to do some of your stitching manually is really helpful. On most modern electric sewing machines the hand wheel (that “bump” on the right side of your sewing machine) is turned toward you (counter-clockwise if you are looking at the machine from the right side of your machine) to take a manual stitch.

The times you use the hand wheel to make a stitch include when you want to turn a corner on your project (called a pivot) and you need the needle in the fabric to do this. So…you turn the hand wheel toward you till the needle is in the fabric, lift up the presser foot and turn your work. Then you put the presser foot down and continue to stitch. Another time you need to use the hand wheel is if when you come to the end of your stitching if the take-up lever is down. You need to turn the hand wheel until the take up lever is in the topmost position in order to complete your stitch. Another time you use the hand wheel to stitch a manual stitch is at the end of a dart. I will talk about dart construction in more detail in a later blog post, but this is an important instance of using the hand wheel to make a manual (non-electric) stitch.


Create! Fabric Store List Updated

Please note: I compiled this list from several sources. I do not endorse any of these stores, although I have visited many of them. Please feel free to ask my opinion on a store, but do your own research as well either online or by visiting. This is just a starting point for your own explorations! (Please also note that this list is only Brick and Mortar.)~ Rebecca    

P.S. If you are travelling to New York, email me at rebecca@createsew.com and I will send you my list of stores in the Fashion District of NYC. ~R.L.S.




General and Fashion Fabric:

  1. That $1.99 Store, Auburn, MA (near Worcester) Every bolt is $1.99/yd.
  2. Franklin Mill Store, 305 Union Street, Franklin, MA 02038, Ph: 508-528-3301
  3. Sew-Lo Fabrics, 473 Cambridge St., Cambridge, MA (discount fabrics; hit or miss)
  4. Sew-Fisticated Discount Fabrics, Twin Cities Plaza, 14 McGrath Highway, Somerville, MA, also in Dorchester, MA, (discount fabrics; hit or miss)
  5. Clement Fabric, 80 Bedford St., Boston, MA (Chinatown)
  6. Winmil Fabrics, 111 Chauncy Street, Boston, MA  (Chinatown)
  7. Sawyer Brook Distinctive Fabrics, Clinton, MA (high end fashion fabrics) 55 Sterling Street, 2nd Floor, Clinton, Massachusetts 01510 1-800-290-2739 email: service@sawyerbrook.com (NOTE: This is primarily a web-based mail order business, so call or email first if you plan to go to their warehouse store in Clinton. Also check their website for hours.)
  8. Fabric Place Basement, 321 Speen St., Natick, MA


  1. Quilted Crow, 61 Stow Rd. #4, Boxborough, MA
  2. Fabric Corner, 183 Mass. Ave, Arlington, MA
  3. Cambridge Quilt Shop, 95 Blanchard Road, Cambridge, MA
  4. Mary Rose’s Quilt Shop, 4-6 Brande Court, Reading, Ma. 01867 (Behind Atlantic Supermarket)
  5. Button Box Quilt Shop, 5 Overlook Dr., Wellesley, Ma
  6. Sew Creatively, Elliot St., Beverly, MA
  7. Quilted Acorn, Newbury, MA
  8. The Fabric Stash, 16 Sturbridge Rd., Charlton, MA (also home dec)
  9. Emma’s Quilt Cupboard, Franklin, MA
  10. Tumbleweed Quilts, Pembroke, MA, or West Barnstable, MA (Cape Cod)

Home Dec:

  1. Calico Corners, 440 Great Rd., Acton, MA
  2. Zimman’s, 80 Market St., Lynn, MA
  3. Artee Fabrics 68 Tower St. (2nd floor) Hudson, MA
  4. Still Life Home Consignment 68 Tower St. (1st floor) Hudson, MA  (fabric remnants at good prices)
  5. Freddy Farkel’s Fabric Outlet, 86 Coolidge Ave, Watertown, MA 02472 (617) 924-4144
  6. Ikea, 1 Ikea Way, Stoughton, MA
  7. Marimekko Fabrics, 350 Huron Avenue,  Cambridge, MA  02138


  1. Osgoode’s Textiles, 333 Park St., West Springfield, MA 01089—This is the biggest and best fabric store I have visited outside of the legendary NYC Fabric District.

Adventures of a Treadlin’ Man









Photo credit: http://sewing.about.com/library/machines/bltrmachine.htm


Adventures of a Treadlin’ Man

Written by Brian Szetela
Edited by Rebecca Szetela

Inspired by several power outages during a recent surprise October snowstorm, I got interested in an antique treadle sewing machine at a local consignment shop. The old sewing machine looked neglected. The stylized ancient Egyptian decals on the machine were badly worn and the finish was scarred, but I could make out a sphinx or basilisk here and there. Although the decorations were worn, the machine did not seem to be “locked up” with ancient oil and thread and even though the belt was broken, the treadle mechanism was intact. I bought it.

Once I got home, I looked up the serial number on the Singer website and discovered that this was an early Singer “15-30” manufactured in New Jersey in 1908. From a website called Treadle On, I found instructions on how to refurbish the treadle. I disassembled the treadle, cleaned out the old threads wound in the works, reassembled and lubricated it and adjusted the treadle mechanism. Then I used kerosene to remove the old oil and lint from the machine’s interior shafts and bearings and I cleaned the outside with a soft rag and mild car washing soap. Finally, again referring to the Treadle On website, I fitted the new drive belt I found on Ebay.

The “15-30” model was the first Singer sewing machine designed to use an oscillating hook mechanism, departing from the back and forth shuttle mechanism suggestive of a weaving loom. The “hook” on a sewing machine is the mechanism that catches the needle thread, bringing it around the bobbin in order to complete the stitch. Oscillating hooks are rarely used on sewing machines today. The oscillating hook design was an intermediate step leading to the full rotating hook mechanism used on most modern sewing machines.

The stitch length on my 15-30 treadle sewing machine is adjustable, although there are no numbers to go by, and the machine can only make a straight stitch. There is also no reverse mechanism on the machine. Since I can’t reverse direction in order to “lock my stitches” I have to draw both threads to the back of the garment and tie them off instead. In spite of its limitations, my “new” sewing machine stitched flawlessly once I got the treadling motion down, despite its age and appearance of neglect.

I wanted to test the machine out on a garment sewing project, so I decided make lounge pants for my first treadle sewing adventure. I chose this as my first project as it has long straight seams and wide seam allowances to practice on. I wasn’t quite ready to start out working on a complex project with small pieces that required detail sewing. The challenge was going to be just getting my initial stitches done correctly! Once I got started I quickly found out that it takes practice plus finesse to get the pedaling motion down on the treadle.

In treadling, I quickly discovered that the goal was to get the treadle flywheel to start moving in the right direction so the belt would move forward over the top of the machine’s handwheel. This can be challenging, because sometimes it wants to go the wrong way, causing tangled stitches in the process. The good news is that the large spoked handwheel allows fine control of stitching because it is so easy to turn by hand. Once I got it started correctly on one of the long side seams, the treadling finally went smoothly and the seam came out great.

I am now the happy owner of a great pair of cotton flannel lounge pants and in the process I have discovered that treadle sewing is fun and relaxing.  My 1908 treadle-powered Singer 15-30 machine makes a neat, precise, consistent straight stitch that is a delight to see and the whirring sound as I treadle is very soothing. It makes me wonder what the pre-electric, pre- gasoline powered world was like.  I suspect it was very quiet back then.

We are back!

We are back! Now that we’ve launched the new website you’ll be seeing blog entries again. Stay tuned for our next blog entry: “Adventures of a Treadlin’ Man”

Create!-ive Designing & Sewing

We are very big into helping our students sew, make and create whatever it is that they want to make. There is always a starting point of a student’s vision of what she or he wants and then figuring out how to do it. Often that involves taking fabric, pattern and directions and marrying the 3 so that the garment or accessory or “stuffie” comes out the way he/she/we envisioned it.

Sometimes however, a student comes to us with an idea  that is more “outside the box”. Either they have a drawing they want to see come to life or the pattern they chose is clearly not adequate to the task of their vision. That’s when our creative minds start working overtime.

Two projects come to mind that were in this category and interestingly, both were from advanced students who were in the same summer class. It was also the last class of the summer, so we were scrambling to try to get these projects done and done right under a serious deadline. They were also both projects involving stuffed animals, which if you have never made one before, can be very challenging since you are working in 3-D and it has to work as a sort of sculptural object as well as a sewing project.

One project was a stuffed cat that had to have very distinct properties. The first of which, since the student is a true cat lover was that it look “real” in it’s stance, with legs that actually were separate and helped it stand, not a 2-dimensional curled up flat “idea” of a cat. It also needed to be relatively easy to make since she wants to make several stuffed cats, each one slightly different.

The other project was a stuffed bear, but not just any stuffed bear. This was “Mr. Bean’s bear” made to resemble the bear from the the Mr. Bean movies. It had to look a certain way (skinny and somewhat gawkish, like Mr. Bean) and have 2-toned paws.

We had a limited amount of time and two very picky “sewing artists” plus two sewing instructors who wanted these kids to get what they wanted and not  be disappointed.

Here are the pictures of the finished projects. How did we do?

yellow kitty

yellow kitty

yellow cat on student's head

Successful cat stuffie!

Mr. Bean's Teddy Bear

Mr. Bean's Teddy Bear designed by advanced sewing student at Create! Sewing Studio

Mr. Bean's Bear

Summer Sewing Creativity

Every class we have is full of very creative sewing students, but last week’s our group of students got creative in some unexpected ways. Take this “Button Fish Sculpture” for example.

The student who made this just created it totally on her own when she saw a bunch of buttons on the table top.

Other kids got really creative with our new “monster” project. Here are some pictures of their work.

Happy Monsters

Lonely Monster

Several students also made more traditional projects like our lounge pants, ipod cases, totebags and backpacks. Here are some of those sewing projects.

“Sewn by me” Lounge Pants & Totebag

A monster and a new handbag!

Ah yes and we now celebrate at the end of each session with a cupcake treat! Yum!!!!

Cupcakes to celebrate!

We all love cupcakes!

And finally, our most advanced students show off their sewing projects for the week. Summer tops and totebags.

New Summer Tops! Great Sewing!

"Made by me" beach bag with fabric flowers

Mom was amazed at the great job these girls did!

Birthday Parties!!!!!

We are now doing birthday parties for kids! Check out the new page on our website: https://createsew.com/sew/parties/

…more news to come!

“Sew Simple” Tips for You on SuzySaid

Have you seen our new series of  Sew Simple “mini-blog” newsletter articles on SuzySaid? Here are links to a couple of the posts. If you get yourself on “Suzy’s” email list the links will come right to your email. Enjoy!

sewing lessons





Last Day…Special Gifts from the Heart

Thank you!

This week was the last week of after-school sewing sessions for the children and they let us in know in no uncertain terms that they were sorry to see it end! Many of them will join us for summer session, but they get very attached to their particular class, so it is definitely a real good-bye when we end the after-school classes.

I love my pin!

I felt little tugs at my heartstrings with some of the students’ comments. “I’m going to miss you soooooo much!” said one little girl. “I can’t wait for the fall!” said another who will be away all summer. “I already have fabric for my fall project!”

I love it!

I love my flower pin!