How Clare Rowley Invented Creative Feet

How Clare Rowley invented the Creative Feet header

Clare Rowley always enjoyed art, practicing daily to learn despite not being afforded formal art classes. At the age of 9 Clare paid for art supplies with monies earned from babysitting jobs. She became proficient in pencil, graphite, watercolor on her own. During Middle School she learned ceramics and earned a Scholarship for sculpture in her 9th grade year to attend Cal State Northridge University. This summer taught her principles that helped her create the initial prototypes.

When you talk with her, she'll also mention at age 5, her father Don Rowley, Inventor of the Hoop-It-All embroidery hoops and stabilizers would have her go to work with him. This was before his sewing inventions when he was the owner of a hearing aide business. Clare was intrigued as her father made custom ear molds for his patients and begged him to let her help. He took her by the hand and taught her the process. She states that she can recall the light streaming in through the window and the smell omitted from the polymers used. This process of taking something and changing it from one form to another is why she believed she could make feet for sewing machines. Because Clare's father had not yet invented the Hoop-It-All, Clare did not have his guidance to help her produce the Creative Feet.

Clare's father purchased a sewing machine dealership when she was 17 and at the age of 19 she was providing his store A-American Sewing Center, with her ready-made stuffed ponies. She was asked by her father to come in to his store in 1980 to see a new sewing machine that Janome released called the New Home 5001. This sewing machine was the first to have the ability for the consumer to program a set of patterns together and was made with NEC boards. Clare was working in the computer industry at this time and came to see how sewing machines were now being designed with computer components. 

During her visit to see the machine 3 customers were watching as she explored the machine and worked with it. As she exclaimed with excitement on each new feature, the women that were watching all couldn't resist purchasing one for themselves. This was the reason Clare's father then asked her to join him and work in his store. Clare did in-fact begin working for her father in his store and eventually learned how to service the machines. She is factory trained in several different brands of machines and can even repair industrial sewing machines.

Clare also began teaching Machine Use instruction using a similar method of teaching that her father and mother Lucy Rowley formulated that has been adopted by the sewing industry as the Machine Use Workbook. 

Clare recalls the first day she was to teach a class on Machine Use Instruction and a talk she had with her mother.

Clare: "I'm scared to teach them, I'm only 19 and they're all experienced sewers."

Lucy "Clare, I ask you this, do any of them know more about that sewing machine than you do?" Clare: "No."

Lucy: "Then get in there and teach. They'll all love you, sewers are good people, you'll do fine." 


When she entered that classroom she took to it like a duck-to-water and has been teaching in some form or another ever since. She's taught children arts and crafts and adults sewing, quilting and embroidery.

During this time in history the Baby Lock over lock Serger sewing machine was released to the world market and Clare made her first foot for that machine. She ground out the bottom of their standard foot making a channel for pearls to pass under and also wrote a machine use book for that machine. She was unaware that she was an inventor until a company (unnamed) took her foot and a copy of her book and instead of offering her rights to them, they copied them. She was awakened to the fact that what she was making wasn't just appealing to her immediate customers but also to the world. She then took her ideas more seriously an has used that experience as a learning experience rather than bad mouthing the company that used her in this way. It's big business! Cut-throat behavior that she vowed would never jade her or make her behave in that way, no matter what.


This experience did have some lasting effect on her, in-that she decided to protect others from falling victim to things like this and she would also protect he consumer from false advertising and misuse of power by large companies. One company (unnamed) Created or changed one part of their feet each time a new model of sewing machine was released. She noticed that the design change on the feet themselves were not functional changes but instead deliberate changes to force the consumer to buy new feet for that model and it cost upwards of $500.00 for the customer to buy the new feet. It was disappointing behavior and Clare couldn't bring herself to not be honest with her customers. So, instead of selling the new feet design, Clare modified the old feet so they'd fit the new model machine.


Clare, like many sewing machine dealers also took the standard Satin Stitch Foot and ground away the front cross section to make it into an open-toed applique foot. That was until companies started to make their own open-toed feet.


Having these experiences made a visit from a lady named Mary a challenge that Clare was ready for because she was blind and deaf and wanted to sew. She not only wanted to sew (she already was) but she wanted to sew all by herself at home. This was not something any blind sewer was doing (that we were aware of) and presented several challenges. First, what sewing machine would be best for someone that couldn't see? Clare decided the Janome/New Home 5001 would be the best fit for her. She chose this machine because it had a fantastic needle threader and every time you turned the machine off and back on again it would always go back to a straight stitch, so if Mary got lost as she was selecting settings she could restart easily. 


Clare took the machine home (still living with parents at this time) and wore ear plugs and blind folded herself and then proceeded to experience the machine as Mary would. As she was working with the machine she felt it would be helpful if she could raise up all markings on the machine and that made her remember her father's ear molds. She talked to him about it and they-together explored his catalogs. They found this new procedure that was being used to protect women's nails and they called it acrylic. This is now a common process but a brand new science when the Satinedge foot was designed. 

Clare ordered some of this acrylic powder and the substrate that is used to mix it together and changes it into a hard substance. She used this and straight pins to carefully raise up every stitch pattern and words were changed to Braille. She kept the machine for a month and then began teaching Mary Machine Use as she simultaneously took tailoring at the Braille Institute in Los Angeles, California.

Clare would pick up Mary and her legally blind husband and teach her how to use her machine and did so for over a year. At the close of Mary's lessons Mary had completed 2 tailored suits, one for her and one for her husband. They walked in wearing the suits and Clare would have cried had it not been for the color of the suits (sky blue) and she asked Mary what inspired her to choose that color. Mary said. "The lady at the store said the fabric was the color of the sky and everyone has told me for years that the sky is beautiful." Mary was born without sight and depended on people to describe things to her. 


Satinedge foot diagram



 Clare thought that she would not see much of Mary now that she was able to sew by herself and was delighted to see her walk into the store months later. She was glowing with excitement as she opened her purse and exposed a hidden napkin that she apparently had taken from the restaurant they'd eaten at the night before. This napkin had a new finish on the edge, a satin stitch created by the new Baby Lock Serger / Over lock machine. She wanted to make her own napkins. Clare typed into the machine that they'd used to communicate with each other. "That stitch was done on a machine that has knives and I"m not putting you on a machine that cuts because it might cut you." Mary replied. "I know you'll figure something out."

Clare was haunted by Mary's words and finally took her challenge and started to alter existing feet to see if she could make a foot for a sewing machine that would allow Mary, a completely blind person sew right on the edge of a raw piece of fabric. Clare succeeded and after giving it to Mary, Clare's father asked her to make another one. Don said. "Make one for the sales floor because if we put a customer in front of a sewing machine and tell them to not touch the fabric they are going to think our machines are better than any other, and we'll sell more machines." Clare did make another foot and another and another and each foot took over an hour to make, so she wasn't enjoying making them but the happy customers fed her with the desire to keep making them.

 There is a saying, "behind every customer there are 7 more customers" and that was proving true for Clare as her customers started telling her to make them for other brands of sewing machines. She took that challenge too and found that the only way to make the foot fit all sewing machines was to open up or widen the zigzag opening and to make the guide movable or adjustable. This is because not all sewing machines have the same needle position and they also don't all line up the same for zigzag swing. This is why in the foot industry you sometimes need to know if your machine is a left or a center needle position machine. 

Clare made the foot adjustable and over time perfected her design to its current design.

 Sew a perfect Satin stitch on the edge of any fabric using the Creative Feet Satinedge sewing foot Sew tiny Satin Stitches for perfect sewing machine applique precision sewing on any sewing machine Sew a Stitch in a Ditch without missing you'll love using this foot for piecing too 1/4 inch seams


Pearls N Piping sewing foot dialog


A few years after inventing the Satinedge foot, a woman in her late 70's entered the store and was told to see Clare about making a foot for her so that she could sew on the new pre-strung pearls that had just released. Clare showed her how to sew them down using the zipper foot but the woman could not do it that way because her hands were close to completely crippled as a result of Rheumatoid Arthritis. Clare remembers her hands being severely distorted and she felt so bad for her struggle. She was brought to tears as she watched this woman break down and cry and Clare held her feeling helpless to do anything else.

Clare was left with a sick feeling as she watched her walk out of the store broken hearted as that was her only source of income. She went home that day and later slept. As Clare slept she had her first tri-level dream. She describes these dreams as being awake but asleep and watching herself sleep. She slept that night but was actually in her store working all night within this dream, working on designs for a foot that would allow anyone to sew these new pre-strung pearls onto any fabric without having to hold onto the trim at all. 

Sew down rhinestones using any sewing machine and the Creative Feet Pearls N Piping sewing foot sew your own bridal veil, beaded bridal veils make with any sewing machine and the Creative Feet Pearls N Piping sewing foot make your own piping, sew your piping in and bead piping. great for home dec using Creative Feet Pearls N Piping sewing foot, Also known as welting


 Sequins N Ribbon Foot Diagram


Clare recalls a woman entering the store with a problem regarding a new product that had just released. They were Pre-Strung Sequins, a new product in the early 80's and nearly impossible to sew down onto fabric. This is why many designers were gluing them onto garments making the clothes they created difficult to maintain and wash. 

This designer stated. "I already have a foot that a man at another store made for me and it does sew them down, however every time I get near a row I already sewed it breaks the row I sewed. I paid over $400.00 for this foot and it won't let me achieve the look I want."

Clare looked at the huge foot and saw immediately the flaws in the foot and decided to give it a try. Clare modified an existing foot (adjustable blind hem) that has its own flaws and used the guide as a base to build her guide onto and used acrylic for nails, some soudering and made a foot. This foot was good but Clare knew it needed to be made using an Injection Molding machine because she could not make them fast. Each foot took 4 hours to make and she had a growing wait list for it.

This fashion designer was sent to Clare because she was becoming known by the entertainment industry. Clare created an entire outfit for Stevie Nicks, sold Sinbad a sewing machine, gave him private classes on his machine and helped him work on his baggy pants design. Clare also sold machines and taught Clint Walker and Maureen McCormick how to use their sewing machines. 

Sew down sequins using your sewing machine and the Creative Feet Sequins N Ribbon sewing foot Sew down rows of sequins side by side with the Sequins N Ribbon sewing foot on your machine Sew down in any direction ribbon, ric rac and couch any trim on any fabric. Couch with yarns of all sizes and types using this couching foot



Creative Feet Accessory Guide Set for the Sequins N Ribbon sewing foot

ACCESSORY GUIDES fit the Sequins N Ribbon foot and make it possible for you to sew down a wider selection of trims and Couch with Yarn. Clare found out quickly that the Sequins N Ribbon foot was amazing for sewing down other trims, besides sequins and was inspired to offer more options by creating the Accessory Guides. Before this set was offered Clare received a phone call from Clotilde, a roll model and leader in the sewing notion sales in the USA. Clotilde, told Clare to try using Ric Rac with the Sequins N Ribbon foot and it comes with a 1/4" guide opening. She told Clotilde it probably wouldn't fit but she demanded Clare tried, she just had a feeling it would work. Clare tried it and called Clotilde with excitement in her voice. "Not only does it work but the Ric Rac zigzags into the guide's opening and if you use a double at needle, you can sew down both sides at once!"

The foot with the Accessory Guides is capable of sewing all sizes of trims from 1/16" round (yarn) up to the largest yarn made, and a wide variety of upholstery trims. It's fantastic for sewing ribbon and is the only method used to sew both sides of 1/8" ribbon.

While the foot is not Free-Motion, people assume that it is because of the unique design of the foot's base that makes it ski over or skim over the fabric. This free movement allows you the control needed when sewing using the feed dogs and allows you to spin the fabric around easier than with any other foot.


The foot and guides make your creativity endless and you'll be amazed at the variety of trims you can easily sew onto any fabric you want. 

Couch with yarn using the Sequins N Ribbon couching foot and your sewing machine All types of yarn are easy to couch using the Creative Feet Sequins N Ribbon foot and the Accessory Guides  sew both sides of ribbon at one time using Sequins N Ribbon sewing foot and the Accessory Guide Set by Creative Feet