One of the many things I love about sewing is that keeping my hands busy frees up my ears and head for listening. If I’m writing or doing what I fondly refer to as “thinky work” I need complete silence as I’m just too easily distracted. However, when I’m doing any kind of practical work like sewing, drawing or pattern cutting I love to listen and my choice of listening includes what you might call “eclectic” tastes; from Radio 4 to 6 Music to Seamwork podcasts.
I feel like I absorb things that I’m listening to more when I’m sewing, almost like I’m concentrating on what I’m listening to but in a different kind of way because I’m also focussed on the familiar movements of sewing or drafting patterns. It’s the same when I listen to stuff while driving; maybe the two activities use different but complimentary parts of your brain? I’m not sure, but it’s a habit I got into early. I remember spending many enjoyable hours working on my textiles homework and various art projects from school in the 80s while listening to A-ha and Transvision Vamp on cassette, or watching Treasure Hunt and Moonlighting on the telly. Sadly I don’t sew at home any more as I don’t have space for a sewing machine in our tiny Brighton flat, so I never get to sew with the telly on, but I do plenty of listening.
Here’s some of the stuff I enjoy listening to while I work.
1 – RADIO
At home I have a radio in every room and also have one permanently on in MIY Workshop, mostly it’s tuned to:
- Radio 4 – without doubt my favourite radio station, I just love the unexpected things I learn, it also has great drama, spoken word, topical discussion and political and intelligent debate.
- When the news on Radio 4 starts to get a bit depressing (or I just can’t bear to listen to another episode of Woman’s Hour talking about childbirth) I retune to 6 Music; Radcliffe and Maconie in the afternoon always has me laughing out loud at some point during their show, Lauren Laverne is a good listen in the morning, particularly Desert Island Disco and I was once on Steve Lamacq’s “Good Day Bad Day”. It was a good day and I chose Michael Jackson’s “Shake Your Body” still a great track in my book (there are soooo many things to love about it and this video: if you don’t love those jumpsuits there’s something wrong with you, some excellent trumpet playing and a fresh-faced Jackson without all the cosmetic surgery…..).
2 – PODCASTS
I admit to being a bit of a late-adopter of podcasts and only really got into them a couple of years ago, but now I love them and they’re a big part of my listening. Here are some of my favourites:
While She Naps by Abby Glassenberg – Abby began her US podcast in 2012 and at time of writing she’s currently on episode 102, with a new episode usually released twice per month. Episodes are roughly an hour long and Abby talks with a varied selection of craft designers, personalities and business owners; from big business such as Etsy and Spoonflower, right through to local businesses about topics as broad as body image through to how to be successful on Youtube.
Blogtacular by Kat Molesworth – UK based Kat organises the popular Blogtacular events in London that aim to inspire budding and already successful bloggers and online influencers with her line-up of talks from the latest creative movers and shakers. The Blogtacular podcast continues this theme with interviews from creative bloggers and indie business owners. The podcast started in 2015 and at time of writing has just reached episode 24. Episodes are roughly an hour long and are released at the rate of around 2 per month.
Seamwork Radio by Sarai Mitnick of Seamwork magazine and Colette patterns – the Seamwork podcast began just after the launch of Seamwork magazine in the US in 2015. I was really enjoying the Seamwork podcasts; they’re a bit shorter in length than the others at around 30 minutes and have featured some great guests from Jenny Rushmore (Cashmerette patterns) to Joost De Cock and I love the podcast’s strong focus on “Stories about designing, making and wearing your own clothing.” The podcast started out with a similar fortnightly schedule, but they do seem to have become a bit sporadic; we’re currently on episode 15, but this was released in September 16.
Thread Cult by Christine Cyr Clisset – another great podcast that mainly keeps its focus on dressmaking. Started in the US in 2012, Thread Cult is a well-established podcast. Episodes are roughly half an hour to 45 minutes in length and don’t seem to follow a set release schedule. Currently on episode 42 which is the first one since August of last year. Christine interviews designers and makers from both the home sewing communities and couture experts and museum curators, her varied guests have included our very own Rosie Martin of DIY Couture through to couture sewing expert Susan Khalje.
Crafty Planner by Sandi Hazlewood – is a varied podcast about craft and the creative process and so has a varied line-up of guests. Started in 2015 Sandi is prolific with her podcasting being on episode 120 already! Her guests have included Jen Beeman of Grainline patterns and Charlotte Newland the last winner of the Great British Sewing Bee. Episodes tend to be around 50 minutes in length and are usually released weekly which is one hell of a schedule to keep up!
UPDATED 18/8/17 – I can’t believe I forgot the Modern Sewciety Podcast! Here it is:
Modern Sewciety by Stephanie Kendron is a podcast about all things sewing. She features bloggers from across the crafting industries and chats about what what blogging has brought them. Of course there’s also a sprinkling of behinds the scenes and what makes each guest tick. Recent guests have included Blair Stocker of WiseCraft Handmade, Taylor from Blueprints for Sewing and Kate of The Foldline. The podcast started in 2013 and at time of writing is on episode 127, averaging around 2 episode per month and episodes vary in length from just over half an hour to over 2 hours!
BEGINNER’S GUIDE TO PODCASTS
If you’re new to podcasts and are tempted to give them a go, here’s a quick guide to getting started:
- You need a podcast player – sometimes you can listen to podcasts directly on the podcaster’s website. It’s ok, but you’re likely to want to listen to a variety of podcasts so you really need one place to keep them all.
- If you use an Apple (Mac) computer, Ipad or Iphone you can find podcasts through Itunes – just search for the name of the podcast (note: not all podcasts can be found via Itunes). Once you’ve found the podcast, select it and click on the “subscribe” button. On Ipads and Iphones this will then open Apple’s own podcast app. If you use an Android tablet or phone and have a computer other than Apple, you need to use a different podcast player – I use Stitcher other players are available, just search “podcast player” on Google Play. You can also use Spotify and Deezer to listen to podcasts.
- Once you have your player, you can get subscribing. Search for the podcast you’re interested in and click on the “subscribe” button. You’ll get a list of the most recent episode and all the previous episodes.
- If you want to listen to an episode while not connected to the internet, you will need to download the episode. Some podcast players do this automatically, others require you to manually download each episode you want to listen to offline.
I also have an Audible account. I like the idea of this more than I actually use it. I originally signed up with the intention of listening to lots of dry business type books that I wanted to read, but knew that I never would. Confession: I have started listening to a few, but not reached the end of any yet….
So, there are my recommendations, how about you?! Do you listen while you sew and if you do, what tickles your ear canal? If I’ve missed anything that you love, leave a link to it in the comments!