Friday Chatter: What do you listen to when you sew?


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After last week’s wonderful discussion about perfectionism (thank you to everyone who chimed in, so many different perspectives!), I thought I’d lighten things up this week with a fun question: What do you like to listen to when you sew?

I’ll often listen to music, but what I really like is a good podcast. I love being able to learn or listen to stories while my hands are busy, and since I can’t exactly read a book while sewing, podcasts do the trick.

Here are a few that I love:

Ok, that’s a lot. Keep in mind I don’t keep up with all of them. And I also run 15-20 miles a week, sooooo… I have headphones on a lot.

Do you listen to music, radio, podcasts, or nothing at all when you sew? Anything you’d recommend to others?

PS: We’ll have an announcement a little later today about the start of the Albion Sewalong and our new site specially dedicated just to sewalongs! Stay tuned.

Sarai Mitnick   —   Founder

Sarai started Colette back in 2009. She believes the primary role of a business should be to help people. She loves good books, sewing with wool, her charming cats, working in her garden, and eating salsa.

Comments 96


Radio Lab and Science Friday!!


I used to listen to Radio Lab religiously, but I started to feel like it wasn’t really about science any more and for some reason it hasn’t appealed to me as much. Maybe I should try again.

Paula Braskie-Lucas

I actually don’t listen to anything when I sew…I love the silence when I am sewing and/or making art!

Meg K

I listen to NPR when I sew and podcasts when I run. This American Life is near the top but has been usurped by RadioLab and TEDTalks.

Amy W

If I listen to music I’ll listen to Bach’s Cello Suites. It’s so relaxing. Usually I’ll have the tv on and have an action movie on; which is an unusual choice when sewing. It’s something I can listen to but don’t need to fully pay attention to.

Liz Smith

I listen to podcasts for hours and hours a day while I make things! Lots of NPR shows like you, also Slate’s Culture gabfest, DoubleX, and Political Gabfest. I like some of The New Yorker ones too.

Also I offer a podcast of my interview show Makers in Business. It’s a 25 minute conversation between me and someone who makes things and sells them. I have about 20 shows available free on iTunes. Search Makers in Business or check my blog.


I always listen to music while I’m sewing, and my favorite music is varied from Sinatra and big band to folk/bluegrass inspired stuff. I don’t listen to any podcasts…I do watch a couple of knitting podcasts (mostly the Must Stash Podcast), but I can’t really watch anything while sewing! :)


I am currently listening to Elizabeth Peters audiobooks (The Amelia Peabody series). I’ve read them all, but am really enjoying listening to the audiobooks. The narrator is fabulous and the humor in the books makes me laugh out loud which is a good thing.

A favorite podcast is “The History of Rome” that got me through many many hours of sewing. I think I need to listen to that one again. The guy that did that podcast is currently working on one pertaining to political revolutions that I haven’t started yet but plan to after I’m done with the Elizabeth Peters audiobooks.

Just a hint – many local libraries carry audiobooks and you can listen to them free versus paying for a service like audible or some such.

diana madden

I love History of Rome too, I found it when my daughter had Latin, she never really connected with the podcast or the language, but I’ve been a fan and that enduring empire offers hours of enlightening listening

Annette Tirette

I listen to music I can sing along to (anything, as long as I know the words) so I don’t put pins in my mouth all the time… Trying to kick a bad habit here!


Ha! That’s an awesome idea.


Usually podcasts or one of the BBC’s music radio stations. I recently discovered an NPR podcast called ‘Snap Judgement’ which I’ve been catching up on while sewing.


I really love listening to podcasts as well. Some of my favorites are Radiolab, My Brother My Brother and Me, and Sawbones. I like the idea of listening to an audio book, I’ll have to try that!


I forgot, I just started listening to Sawbones as well!


I listen to audio books, my latest is ‘The Rosie Project’ by Graeme Simsion.


Pandora with music of the 60’s and 70’s taking me back in time.


Great subject! My husband mentioned Radio Lab recently, so it’s on my list, especially since many of you recommend it. Podcasts I enjoy: This American Life, The Moth, Wine for Sophisticated Homies (Hilarious!), Studio 360, Cast-On and 99% Invisible. Most especially 99% Invisible. It’s about design and is short, funny and informative. Be sure to listen to the very end – the host has his 2 little boys comment on the topic of the day. So cute. For music: mostly jazz, occasionally classical and then the eclectic things like Pokey LaFarge, The Puppini Sisters, Pomplemoose and Ukulele Club de Paris.


I forgot to mention 99% invisible also! That’s a great one.


Definitely add RadioLab to your list! The editing is amazing and the topics are really interesting. Science was never my favorite subject in school, but this podcast makes it so interesting. And I recently discovered Stuff Mom Never Told You, which is also very well made and it covers women-centered topics.


I like to audio listen to books. I download them for free from the library. Either that or old movies on TCM.


big fan of Nature and Science podcasts…..but Im a scientist. the other real inspiring one for me is TED radio.


I listen to a variety of NPR podcasts: This American Life, Wait Wait, Fresh Air, Planet Money, The Moth, and TedTalks. I also listen to a bunch of religious podcasts from Ancient Faith Radio, or if I don’t have any interesting podcasts, the indie stations on Pandora! :)

Lady Stitcher

I really enjoy listening to podcasts, old radio plays and audiobooks; it’s great to have someone tell you a story while you sew! The format of the New Yorker Fiction podcasts is great – a guest author reads a short story by another writer and then discusses what they liked about the piece.


For podcasts, I love Welcome to Night Vale.

I’ve also recently started listening to audiobooks– is my friend.

Melissa S.

Typically I listen to music, usually on Spotify, with whatever suits my mood. Sometimes I need music for energy, and other times I want to sew to relax so my music reflects that. Other times I’ll watch a show on Netflix or something, but it has to be a show that I only kinda want to see, otherwise I’ll stop sewing to watch it! But I should try podcasts one of these days. Thank you for your recommendations.


I bought a TV just for my sewing room so most of the time I’m sewing some sort of comedy is playing in the background. I prefer anything light (e.g. How I Met Your Mother, New Girl, etc.). Occasionally I’ll play some classical music. I really like having something to follow so the music is less often. I’ll definitely have to try the podcasts and NPR ideas!


Ooooh, I love podcasts! Thank you all for the suggestions, I’ll go and check out some of them and see whether I find anything new (to me) that I like! And I’ll probably check back here in a week or two to see what else people suggest after me.

I enjoy Thread Cult, which is about sewing, fashion and textiles, including weaving, dyeing, working with different fabrics and similar topics.
Recently, I’ve been listening to Roderick on the Line, which is a series of weekly phone conversations between two guys, one of them a musician (John Roderick). It is about everything and nothing and usually completely crazy, but entertaining. I can’t listen to too many episodes right after each other, however, because I fear that it might make me go insane.
I occasionally listen to The Big Web Show, but I have a bit of a technical background, so this would probably not be all that interesting to most seamstresses who don’t happen to be working in that field.

I really enjoy listening to audio books as well, though I pause them whenever I need to do something finicky or something that I haven’t done before. I can’t concentrate on listening and sewing something tricky at the same time.
I get my audio books from the library or from LibriVox or Lit2Go.

Oh, and then there’s iTunes U as well! They have lots of free university lectures on there on just about any subject. I enjoy philosophy, literature, social science and similar things—as long as I can just listen to stuff and don’t actually have to study for exams! (;


I LOVE wait, wait don’t tell me! My favorite part of npr :)

debbie katz

I listen to an oldies station that plays old rock’n roll! I sing along, I dance between my cutting table, sewing machine and serger. I sing to my dog! It’s lots of fun.


Audiobooks all the way!!
I have quite a busy, fast-paced life (self-inflicted, I must admit!) with work, family commitments and all the lists of “must-dos” and “would-love-to-try-my-hand-ats” that I impose on myself, so I love the idea that when I’m sewing/crafting I’m multi-tasking, and relish the fact that I have so much more patience with the older, classical, “slow-burn” books that take longer to get into, but have the big-payoff of beautiful diction and the finely crafted storylines characteristic of other eras. Old books are free of copyright, so can be downloaded for free to your kindle – set it to “read aloud” and enjoy (you’ll only notice the computer-voice for the first 5 mins until the story takes over!) Wilkie Collins is my current love!!!


I love listening to podcasts like This American Life, Radiolab and CraftLit, but I mostly save them for during my commute or laundry time. I’m still a pretty new sewist, so I find talk a little too distracting when I’m concentrating on pattern instructions. Instead, I’ve been listening to a lot of Motown and girl groups from the ’60s while I’ve been sewing. :)

Lady ID

I usually watch/listen to movies or shows on Netflix. Lately it has been CSI:NY. I am actually trying to break that habit in favour of listening to gospel/worship music or my audio Bible at least half the time. I need to make sure my iPod speaker works…(note to self)


Usually have the radio on when I’m in the house – BBC 2 or 4, or music playlists from Spotify, or BBC R4 comedy podcast. I don’t often sit down at watch TV, but quite often I’ll be catching up on the laptop while sewing (BBC’s Silent Witness at the moment, Strictly Come Dancing before Christmas).


I listen to many of those, plus my guilty pleasure: CarTalk. I primarily listen to audiobooks. My local library provides a subscription to Hoopla so I can instantly download almost any book for free. Right now I’m listening to Twelve Years a Slave.
Often I find myself sewing in silence. It becomes a beautiful meditative time for prayer, discussion with myself, or just mental stillness.


Another huge WWDTM fan here! I don’t listen to it as often as I’d like to, but I really enjoy it. Thanks to you & the other commenters. for the other suggestions. I’m definitely planning on checking some of those out.


One of my favorite podcasts to listen to is called Sawbones: A Marital Tour of Misguided Medicine – it’s a medical doctor and her husband talking about all the crazy things humans have tried in the history of medicine. It’s super entertaining but also educational! Welcome to Night Vale is another favorite of mine, if you’re into tongue-in-cheek Lovecraftian-esque horror. Also, can’t go wrong with some Savage Love (if you don’t mind really inappropriate conversations about really inappropriate things.) This American Life is one of my favorites as well!

Amie M

I like peppy, happy good rhythm country music. So I toss on my Songza app and fund a new country playlist and have at it.


I always mean to listen to music, and then several hours later I’ll look at the clock and realize it’s time to go to bed. So normally, if I’m sewing with the machine, I’m sewing in silence. Sometimes I’ll remember to put on an audiobook or a new album, but not often.

When I make something by hand, I usually curl up in the basement and pull up something on netflix. Half the time I’m not even paying attention, but at least this way I know who my friends are talking about when they mention someone from Downton Abbey or whatever.


I love watch/listening to BBC costume dramas while I sew! My favorites have been Little Dorritt, Larkrise to Candleford, Cranford, Downton Abbey (of course), Call the Midwife, and the Paradise. If you asked me what show I’ve watched witheach sewing project I could tell you. ;)


You are my sewing twin! Isn’t it great when you find something and then see there are 5 or 6 seasons!


I like listening to podcasts on It’s an American history series that’s really good – I hope they do one on the history of sewing someday! Or, when I’m cutting out my fabric, I’ll have my laptop open and watch an old movie. The last one I watched was ‘To Catch a Thief’.


I often listen to Dan Savage’s Savage Lovecast when I’m sewing. I love learning about people’s different sex/relationship pecadilloes and problems, and Dan often makes me LOL. I also find the juxtaposition between my very feminine, domestic, well-behaved sewing and the sometimes filthy podcast amusing in itself.
I also listen to a lot of music while sewing, and that’s one of many reasons I enjoy it.


I listen to Pandora when I sew! I have a station that is all Ska & Reggae & surf music. It totally gets me into the zone and makes me happy.

(I virtually never listen to music on the radio any other time – I am addicted to my two NPR channels in the car/kitchen, and rarely, if ever, deviate from those two stations.)


I usually listen to the recommendations station on It keeps things interesting. :)


I listen to audiobooks while I sew, cross stitch and crochet :) I download them for free from the library – it’s great!


OMG I love all that NPR stuff too! Though I find that words mess me up while sewing… not sure what that says about me… so I mostly listen to music that is without lyrics or in a language I don’t fully understand. I stream a lot of French radio stations on my phone or laptop. My favorite is FIP –

If you don’t know about it, the best app ever is the RadiON app. It is free and you can literally stream thousands of radio stations from around the world, live, on your phone. It kinda blows my mind.

Sarah Clark

I have many ways of keeping my ear buds entertained when I sew, one of them is listening to podcasts. One that you didn’t mention, but that I really like is called Stuff Mom Never Told You. One of my favorite episodes did cusses the use of the word bossy as it relates to women….good stuff.


I love listening to podcasts too, but when I’m sewing and I get to a bit where I need to concentrate, I stop listening and therefore find I miss bits of what is being said. So now I listen to FIP radio ( an amazing French radio station that I discovered when living in Brighton) on the internet. The music is eclectic and wonderful.


I don’t listen to music but I really should! Instead I usually put on TV shows on Netflix. My husband and I have very similar taste in TV so I use my sewing time to watch the shows that he doesn’t happen to want to see. I’ve been known to watch Vampire Diaries, Revenge, Pretty Little Liars, Glee, and anything else that only interests me.


I love listening to music while sewing–two of my favorite things. I also listen to the Slate podcasts, NPR podcasts, and Thread Cult, a podcast about sewing and textiles.


I think you can get BBC radio programmes via the website in other countries?? Not sure about that, but I really like From Our Own Correspondent (Radio 4/World Service) – little stories from BBC journalists all over the world, not so much news, more the type of thing they’d tell their friends. Book Of The Week and Book At Bedtime (Radio 4) can be good too, obviously it depends on the book; recently they had some of Philip Larkin’s personal letters read by Hugh Bonneville – well worth looking up.


Wow so many great suggestions for podcasts.. I have yet to listen to my first one!

When I sew or craft, I usually listen to comedy, either through Pandora or Netflix (where I listen to their specials).

Or, I watch seasons of comedy tv on Netflix. I’ve gone through all of Parks and Rec and something like SEVEN seasons of Reno 911 during crafting binges :)

So, comedy for me!

Courtney Ostaff

I usually listen to cooking podcasts, actually. I <3 America's Test Kitchen, and The Splendid Table.


I listen to podcasts, radio and audiobooks while I stitch away.


Nothing or the radio.
Sometimes I really need silence to focus. And other times the silence is killing me.
I listen to music or stories. It depens on my mood.

diana madden

Absolutely recommend 99% Invisible and Pop Culture Happy Hour. And to continue the NPR love, I have enjoyed binge listening to Planet Money since it premiered, this is a real service bringing economics to life for someone who has never been interested; as a spin-off from TAL its super entertaining–where else are you going to have economics addressed by a chemist explaining why gold is consistently a marker of value in human culture? If I am blessed with a long stretch of working time I listen to audiobooks (currently Russian Debutante’s Handbook, excellent). I wanted to add there is an awesome podcast The Moby Dick Big Read, where a variety of narrators read the chapters, for me its a fantastic way to encounter this classic, Melville had an amazing eye for, and interest in details, that any sewist can appreciate.


I love listening to podcasts as well, anything vaguely related to an interest of mine or that someone else has suggested, but lately they aren’t keeping up with the sewing so I’m going through Babylon 5, the Stargate franchise and all kinds of audio books. Anything by Stephen Fry and all the Harry Potter books. It’s fun. :-)

Sheila MacKenzie

Being from the UK, for me it’s Radio 4 from the BBC. If you get a chance to download some stuff, it’s really interesting. We get a UK version of All In The Mind, magazine programmes, Women’s Hour, plays, film reviews and lots more. You can even start listening to The Archers – a soap on the radio which began in 1951!

Stacey Stitch

I listen to Northern Soul! A few picks:

Edwin Starr – Time
Charles Sheffield – It’s Your Voodoo Working
Joy Lovejoy – In Orbit
Judy Street – What
Marlena Shaw – Wade In The Water


Judy Lemieux

I have been listening to Open Air on Colorado Public Radio a lot lately (they stream from the site ). Lots of up and coming bands and a wide range of music with very little interruption. It’s fun music for getting creative!

Miss Crayola Creepy

I like listening to hardcore! Sometimes I get too pumped and start sewing really fast haha. I also like listening to the basketball games my husband is watching in the other room.


I mostly listen to something when I sew. If there is something good on ABC Radio (Australia, local or Radio National), I’ll listen to that. In summer I like to have the cricket commentary drone on in the background. If there is nothing on the radio, I listen to podcasts: This American Life, Planet Money from NPR, Life Matters (Radio National Australia) or Conversations with Richard Fydler (ABC). But sometimes, blessed silence wins out.


Basically, music during sewing for me is perfectly summed up by John Cusack in “High Fidelity”: I just want something I can ignore. ;) That said, I listen to anything and everything when I sew: Seattle has KEXP and a fantastic classical music station, both of which I love. I usually love podcasts from NPR, but I find it hard to pay attention to both my project AND the story! Hehehe.


I also love listening to podcasts while I sew!

As a Canadian, I am slightly obsessed with the CBC Radio (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation), and there are two CBC podcasts that I would particularly recommend: (1) Q with Jian Ghomeshi — excellent interviews, a perfect mash-up of current affairs with global reach, pop culture, and music. (2) Definitely Not the Opera (DNTO) with Sook-Yin Lee — human interest stories, told in a heart-warming, funny and entertaining way.

Of course I also love many NPR programs, but thought I’d plug some Canadian content. :-) Happy listening…

Teresa Ward

Either silence or Pandora Radio…”Flogging Molly” or “Anya”. I guess I love extremes! Lol


I love to listen to musicals when I´m sewing. I am dancing and singing the way from my ironing board to my sewing machine :-)


I listen to audio books and podcasts. One podcast that hasn’t been mentioned yet is Books on the Nightstand. I get a lot of great book ideas from this one.


To be honest, I watch TV on Netflicks…usually re-runs of Eureka. I don’t even want to think about how many times I’ve watched through the series… I watch things so I won’t get lonely – my day off to sew if Friday, when my husband is at work and I’m all alone!


I’ve just become a huge fan of Filmspotting. And Movies 101.


I used to listen to NPR all weekend when I sewed and I knew everything there was to know and upside down and on repeat repeat repeat. I got into watching Netflix, Amazon, DVD’s, etc. on my laptop while I sew. The upside is that you miss a lot of nuance and can watch the same thing again and enjoy it; the downside is you can’t watch foreign movies…..

I think about changing to podcasts but I also worry about information overload…..


Got my computer set on Pandora “French Cafe”…I think sexy French music goes rather well with sewing, non? :)

Sheila MacKenzie UK

Thank you for advising NPR. Have checked it out and it’ll be BBC radio 4 and some NPR podcasting from now on. Lived in US in 1980s, happy memories.


Digital radio. Classic 80’s or classical. I have just recently started listening to BBC Radio on the computer (I am in Australia) after a suggestion from a fellow UK sewing tweeter.


I like listening to audiobooks, especially the classics – I have a subscription to Audible and am making my way thought Jane Austen’s novels :)


Looks like i might be alone in this… but I always prefer to sew to techno.


I often listen to podcasts while sewing and I love especially TBTL (Too Beautiful to Live, which if you listen to a lot of Wait Wait, you’ve heard the host, Luke Burbank before), NPRs Sound Opinions, RadioLab, and Stuff You Missed in History Class (though I don’t really like the hosts, it’s all very interesting). I also watch a lot of movies on Netflix. It’s a good way for me to judge how long a project takes me, ie, a 7-movie quilt.


I watch tv while sewing, but I drive all day for work and love to listen then. I listen to all the ones you mentioned but I also love audio books and a few other podcasts. My recommendations are Freakonomics, Planet Money, The Nerdist for non-fiction stories and interviews. I love television related podcasts like Vampire Hype (covers True Blood, Vampire Diaries, The Originals), Game of Owns, Once Upon A Time podcast from Hypable, and my favorite fiction podcast is We’re Alive- a podcast radio drama about groups of survivors in a zombie apocalypse. Happy listening!


You should check out some of the CBC radio podcasts (Canadian NPR)

Vinyl cafe- funny stories about. Dave and his family
Q – arts and culture
Under the influence – marketing
Quirks and Quarks – science
White coat black art- medicine
The next chapter- books

There are also other news options and all kinds of great stuff!


I’m a podcast listener too. In addition to some of the ones you mentioned, I also like Stuff You Missed in History Class and 99% Invisible.


I listen to/watch a variety of different things including: Podcast Welcome to Nightvale, BBC radio dramas like Dracula and Neverwhere, BBC’s Sherlock, Downton Abbey, Superhero movies like Avengers, Thor or Iron Man and sometimes I just like to listen to music. Often it’s stuff from the ’90s.


I am finding this series so inspiring, thank you!
…and I sew along to music on shuffle, singing along, but nothing I need to concentrate on :)


I also love many NPR podcasts, and download audiobooks from the library. I find that a good book read by a good narrator can keep me going on a project much longer. My other regular podcast favorites are Marc Maron’s WTF and Julie Klausner’s How Was Your Week.


I love listening to audiobooks – Diana Galbadon’s Outlander series – each book is about 50+ hours of listening pleasure. Great stories. I also listen to a lot of Nelson DeMille, David Balducci and other intriguing stories. However, if I have to learn something new – it is silence! I do have to figure it out. And WWDTM is one of my favorite all time podcasts. I listen to them while in planes – and find there are times that I just laugh outloud!! Can’t wait to try out your tip on the bulging zippers – that drives me crazy!! Thanks for the blog.


BBC Radio’s Kermode & Mayo Film Review is the best! I also enjoy listening to several other BBC radio podcasts, along with Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me.


I have kids so it is usually Sesame Street…lol.


Ooh, I love podcasts so much! I have some of the same faves as you, but my two top favorites are Stuff You Missed in History Class and History Chicks. I love history! :) Thanks for the list, can’t wait to check some out that I hadn’t heard of before.


Oh yes, as a seamstress, I listen to all of the usual suspects in podcasts, as well as How Was Your Week with Julie Klausner, Lexicon Valley, Sound Opinions, Tell Me More NPR podcast, Dinner Party Download, and my new favorite, the Alton Browncast.


Alton Bowncast? Good discovery!
I’m so into podcasts, my favourite media right now.

Here is my carefully curated list:

Welcome to Night Vale
Citizen Radio
Spilled Milk
Democracy Now
John Judge Hodgman
Stuff to blow your mind
Stuff you should know
Wait wait don’t tell me
PRI Science and creativity
The Moth
& Radiolab

Donna W

I am a die-hard audiobook fan. My public library allows us to download their available titles so you don’t have to mess with CDs. They are also a great diversion when your stuck in traffic. It makes a long commute seem less onerous when you have a good story to occupy your mind.


I love this question! Most often, I’ve got my Mac on the other end of the sewing table tuned to Netflix’s Midsomer Murders. I also love podcasts. I found The Tolkien Professor and what a treasure trove! If you love Tolkien, this series of lectures and discussions is for you. I also love The Oodcast. These folks are *talented* and add so much fun to being a Whovian. Sometimes I just like silence, too.

Glennis G

I love listening to audio books. In NC we can download them free from the NC State Library. I usually transfer them to my iTouch and listen when I’m sewing, ironing or working out.

Leah Boyan

There is a great sewing related podcast from Lori (girlsinthegarden): She’s not active with the podcast but there are four years of interviews, sewing topics, reviews and general inspiration.

I also enjoy the Planet Money podcasts on their t shirt project. It is such a privilege to sew for pleasure.


Music – usually classical, and Mozart gets me moving. I’ve found internet radio that plays nothing BUT Mozart, another is nothing but Beethoven, etc… and, to make it sound absolutely grand, I have (well, I snitched it from my guitarist son) an Ibanez combo amp that I picked up (reclaimed, really – I bought it for him when he was in high school, and he’s moved on to bigger and better!) from the pawn shop for $40, and I plug my phone or laptop into that, and it sounds like the whole symphony is in my sewing room! But I can listen to anything through that amp. Even the tv. Love it!


I listen to my Speed Spanish tapes when I sew/quilt and turn on the TV to mindless, don’t really have to watch, but interesting enough so that sometime I really do have to look up, when I’m knitting or doing hand work.


Showtunes. Scares family away. Works for me.


I set my I-Pad up and sometimes catch up on my favorite TV shows on netflix or I listen to NPR (love the Moth and WWDTM). Also Pandora, I like to listen to audio books when I am doing hand work.

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