12 of the best quilting podcasts and online resources for textile lovers
Anne Williams and Today's Quilter magazine offer their suggestions of podcasts and video talks to inspire and entertain you...
On a chilly winter’s day, what could be better than hunkering down in a cosy spot with a sewing project in hand and a podcast or video talk for company? These days we are spoilt for choice with recordings covering all manner of mainstream and niche topics.
And since the pandemic, even more have joined the virtual world. For many artists, organisations, museums and galleries, entering the digital space has enabled them to remain connected with their loyal followers during our recent periods of enforced isolation.
But an added bonus has been the ability to reach out to new audiences, whether that’s engaging with local people who for whatever reason are unable to attend real-life events or attracting global visitors who hitherto would not have been able partake anyway.
Here we present just a few of the plethora of textile, arts and crafts productions you may enjoy. So sit back and be entertained and inspired, and maybe pick up some great ideas and handy tips along the way. Looking for more podcast inspiration? You might also like our guides to the best sewing podcasts and knitting podcasts.
12 quilting and textiles podcasts to try
1. Great British Quilter podcast
Listen now: greatbritishquilterpodcast.libsyn.com
This podcast is presented by Sarah Ashford, UK quilter, designer, author and founder of the Great British Quilter Challenge on Instagram. Regular Today’s Quilter’s readers will also be familiar with Sarah through the ‘Creating Connections’ series she wrote for us last year.
As a modern quilter, over recent years, Sarah has been on a mission to champion today’s British quilters and those involved in the country’s quilting industry. In this series she chats to current movers and shakers to discuss what it means to be part of Britain’s quilting community.
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The show features designer-makers, fabric companies and shop owners who share their stories and give behind-the-scenes sneak peeks of their part of the quilting world, as well as offering listeners their top tips. To name just a few, guests include modern quilter Jo Avery, quilter and screen printer Karen Lewis, and quilt designer and author Janet Clare.
2. Haptic & Hue: Tales of Textiles podcast
Listen now: www.hapticandhue.com
Haptic & Hue brings to light some of the buried tales of textiles from across the centuries and around the globe. From beginning to end, textiles are a constant presence in our lives and, whether consciously or subliminally, they have a profound impact upon us. As well as their visual and tactile appeal, they provide us with warmth and comfort, create and evoke memories, and sometimes they have symbolic importance as well.
This podcast explores how fabric traditions have developed, the skills and innovations that go into making cloth, and what it means to the people who both make and use it.
The series is hosted by British hand-weaver and broadcaster Jo Andrews, who investigates a broad range of themes, examining each topic with the help of a variety of guests. The most recent series is called ‘The Chatter of Cloth’ and each episode is a detective story starting with a single piece of textile that is used to uncover the histories of everyday lives and great events. One episode looks at North Country wholecloth quilting (see image below), while others consider subjects such as vivid African wax prints and the distinctive paisley design.
3. Making Meaning podcast
Over the pandemic, many people took up new hobbies or rekindled their interest in a previous interest, with textile crafts seeing something of a renaissance. For those for whom making was already an integral part of their life, isolation from normal activities perhaps provided pause for thought, to ponder why they enjoy making and what it means to them personally. In her timely new podcast, textile artist and writer Ruth Singer delves into exploring meaning in making.
Through Ruth’s stimulating conversations with artists and other creatives, the series considers why makers do what they do, the reasons they choose to tell the stories they are communicating through their work and the more complex meanings behind their practice. As well as artists – most are textile artists – Ruth also talks to mentors, researchers and museum professionals, examining wider ideas such as the purpose and value of museums.
4. Fashion and Textile Museum on demand events
Not technically a podcast, we're also including London’s Fashion and Textile Museum's range of online events and ‘Events on Demand’ in this round-up (both require tickets to be purchased via the museum’s website). Some events are linked to the museum’s exhibitions and the on-demand option is great if you’ve missed a show you’d love to have seen. Other events are presented by guest speakers, including designers, makers and authors. For example, you can listen to the illustrated talk ‘The Secret Life of Scissors’ by collector and curator Teresa Collenette or learn about ‘The Dressmakers of Auschwitz’ presented by British dress historian Lucy Adlington.
Find out more: www.ftmlondon.org
5. Quiltfolk Virtual Show and Tell
The host of this free-to-access video programme is Jenni Smith, a UK quilter, designer and author based in the north of England. Over the pandemic, many quilters have doubtless missed their local quilt group meetings and the show-and-tells that invariably take place.
This virtual show aims to help fill that gap. Each month, a new episode introduces viewers to a variety of talented quilters from around the world. Over the first six episodes alone, Jenni caught up with guests as far flung as America, Australia, Brazil, France, Greece and the Netherlands, as well as UK makers.
Besides their differing geographic locations, the featured artists also present an eclectic mix of quilt-making styles, but a common thread throughout is the sharing of heart-warming and authentic stories to inform and inspire. Jenni says, “Although in recent months I have spent many hours alone in my studio, never have I felt more part of a global community.”
Watch now: www.quiltfolk.com/videos
6. Material Matters Podcast
This series – now on season 12 – features in-depth interviews with a variety of designers, makers, artists, curators and writers about their relationship with a particular material or technique. Some interviewees work with textiles, but regardless of an artist’s chosen medium the conversations give absorbing insights into the creative process. The show is presented by Grant Gibson, a UK-based design, craft and architecture writer.
More creative programmes to explore
You might also like these fascinating podcasts and resources, filled with art and craft inspiration, to fuel your quilt making and other crafts in life.
7. Meet Me at the Museum Podcast by Art Fund
Many of us will have missed our trips to museums and galleries over the past couple of years, but in this podcast you can join famous faces, such as actors, comedians, poets and writers, as they explore a museum they love in the company of their chosen guest. As well as getting a peek behind the scenes and finding out what makes a museum tick, their visits are a starting point for wide-ranging conversations. You might also discover some museums you haven’t heard of that you can add to your wish-list to visit this year!
Listen now: www.artfund.org
8. The Art of ... podcast by Tate
This podcast by Tate has some fascinating episodes that give thought-provoking insights into the artistic process. Through conversations with a range of contributors, topics such as The Art of Creativity, The Art of Improvisation, The Art of Memory and The Art of Slow Looking are explored. There are also episodes with the theme ‘Walks of Art’, which take listeners on a walk around arty areas like London’s Soho and Cornwall’s St Ives, and there are some ‘Exhibition Specials’ episodes, too.
Listen now: www.tate.org.uk/art/podcasts
9. The Great Women Artists podcast
As the title suggests, this podcast is all about celebrating women artists and includes interviews with artists, writers, curators and general art lovers who talk about the female artist who means most to them. There are some fabulous interviews, mostly with painters, but also with sculptors such as Maggi Hambling and with the renowned American textile artist Bisa Butler.
There are also conversations with three quilters from Gee’s Bend and activists from the iconic Guerrilla Girls, an anonymous group of feminist female artists devoted to fighting sexism and racism within the art world. The show is presented by UK-based art historian and curator Katy Hessel, who also runs @thegreatwomenartists, the Instagram account from which this podcast was created.
Listen now: www.thegreatwomenartists.com
10. Arnold’s Attic
Arnold’s Attic is a YouTube channel presented by UK textile lover Catherine Hill. Through her ‘Meet the Artist’ series of short videos (now numbering over 50 episodes) you can find out about the work of well-known, and some not so well-known, quilters, embroiderers and mixed-media artists. Catherine also posts videos about galleries and exhibitions she visits.
Watch now: www.arnolds-attic.co.uk
11. International Quilt Museum
Like many larger museums, the International Quilt Museum, Lincoln, Nebraska, USA, now has a range of virtual experiences, including free access to their archive of past presentations. There is a wide range of talks with contributions from international speakers covering a variety of topics, from global traditions such as French Marseille quilting and ralli quilts from India, to more academic subjects by highly regarded historians and researchers.
You can also view ‘Textile Talks’, a virtual lecture series organised by the International Quilt Museum, the Modern Quilt Guild, the Quilt Alliance, San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles, Studio Art Quilt Associates and the Surface Design Association. Find out about these and other virtual offerings on the museum’s website.
Watch now: www.internationalquiltmuseum.org
12. We made it!
Have you listened to our very own Gathered podcast, “We made it”? Join hosts Sarah and Zoe as they chat about their favourite makes – and the ones that didn’t go as planned! They’ll tackle common craft problems and share top tips. We’ve Made It is filled with craft chat, musings on the world of modern making and special guests from across the community. Themes include crafting for your mental health and stash-busting tips and inspiration, among others.
Listen now: www.gathered.how/podcast/
What is a podcast?
If you're new to podcasts and not sure where to start, essentially, they are on-demand digital audio broadcasts, which can be listened to via the internet or a podcast app (there are apps for iPhones and android smartphones, though not all podcasts will be available on all devices).
As they are fairly cheap and easy to put together, podcasts started off mainly as a way for individuals to get their message out to the world and to build up a community of people with similar interests. But they are now also produced by companies, organisations and podcast-only networks.
Generally, podcasts are made up of series of episodes. Some are released daily or weekly, less frequently or even just occasionally – it’s totally up to the creator. There’s no pre-determined style or format, and the length is up to the creator, too, so episodes in a series may vary in duration. If listeners subscribe, they will receive a notification via the podcast app when a new episode comes out.
There are millions of different podcasts with new shows coming out all the time, so you are bound to find something that grabs your attention, however obscure your interest. And as they are portable, you can tune in whenever you like, wherever you are and whatever you’re doing!
Anne Williams has been involved in the textile world since the early 2000s when she studied for her City & Guilds in Patchwork and Quilting. With a background in scientific publishing, after completing her quilt studies she changed direction and since then has been writing about quilts and quilting techniques, profiling designer-makers and reviewing exhibitions. She’s a regular contributor to Today’s Quilter magazine. Since February 2006 she has been editor of The Quilter, the magazine of The Quilters’ Guild of the British Isles. She’s also a technical quilting expert and edits projects for quilting publications. Occasionally she also finds time to design and make her own quilts. Find her on Instagram @msannewilliams
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