Five for Friday: Songs for Sewing To

I love music. I own a lot of music, in a huge range of genres.  My collection is, to say the least, random and eccentric.  I wouldn’t say I know a lot about music, I rarely even know the proper name for songs, and I certainly don’t know anything when it comes to making it, but I still love it.

My life has theme songs: certain pieces of music that play in my mind when I do certain things.

Here is my soundtrack to sewing:

1. Classical KDFC.

I didn’t grow up listening to classical music.  For some reason the classical radio station in Hawaii picks the most depressing, morose, dirgelike (and possibly just flat out dirge) classical music.  So I thought classical music was dire.  Then, working in a costume shop in the Bay Area when I was at university, we sewed to the San Francisco classical radio station, and I discovered that actually, classical music (and baroque music, and romantic music, and impressionist music) are all awesome.  So awesome that in retrospect I’m impressed that the Hawaii station managed to find so much bad classical music.

I still sew to the San Francisco classical music station, particularly for historical sewing.  Radio NZ plays fantastic classical music, and I listen to it in the car, but well, I’m a creature of habit and a romantic.  Listening to KDFC reminds me of the skills I learned, and the fabulous people I worked with.  Plus, the ads keep me connected with the states, both for good, bad, and bafflement.

2.  And just to show you how random my musical choices are:  And another one bites the dust – every time I finish a spool of thread (and since I use A LOT of thread, I hear this song in my head A LOT)

3. There is a hippie song that goes “For every problem there is a simple logical solution.  For every mountain there is a road not hard to find.  These situations were made for us to conquer / for the betterment of all mankind.”  It had lyrics about renewable solar energy being the solution to coal emissions and petrol running out, etc.

When I’m teaching sewing and a student says “What do I do!  It’s not working!” I hear the chorus of that song in my head, because with sewing machines, every problem does have a simple logical solution.  Have you threaded the machine properly?  Have you put the bobbin in properly?  Did you put the foot down?  Are you on the right stitch?  Yes to all of these and it’s still not working?  Congratulations!  You have a 1% of sewing problems problem!

I can play the tune in my head.  I am SURE it exists.  Only not according to YouTube, or the internet, or anyone I’ve asked.  Which is pretty amazing, because everything exists on youtube or in google at one point or another.

I finally had to go ask my parents about it, and it turns out that it is by one of my father’s favourite bands, Spirit, and it actually dates from 1990 (which explains why some of the lyrics are so modern) and I’ve found it on the internet.  So you can go listen to it.  And suddenly, it has so little relation to the reason it plays in my head!

4. Vampire Weekend’s The Kids Don’t Stand a Chance is the perfect song for sewing tailored shirts too, all pinstripes and pure Egyptian cotton.  I always feel pleasantly wicked sewing to it.

5. And finally, the ultimate sewing love song.  Avalanche City’s You and I.

Listen closely at the 1:20 mark.

Oh yeah.


  1. bandykullan says

    I prefer working to musicals and operas, so that I can have them on TV and listen to them, and when I need to do some handsewing I can sit down and watch them.

  2. I’m about the same with my music. It’s fun to listen to different genres! I keep the local classical music channel on my radio in the car, though I don’t always turn in on. Half the time I just sit and sing to whatever song (or part of a song if I don’t know all of it–something that happens a lot) pops into my head. At home I have multiple playlists full of songs on Youtube that tend to have nothing to do with each other. What I listen to varies frequently, mostly depending upon my mood, but my favorites tend to be the ones I listen to when I’m feeling calm and happy. I have a certain few I probably over-listen to when I’m feeling that way, like Coldplay’s Strawberry Swing, Nico’s cover of These Days, Audrey Hepburn’s Moon River and Marilyn Monroe’s River of No Return and Down in the Meadow, just to name a few. I guess I do a genre-by-mood thing!

  3. I listen to ABC Classical FM mostly, alternating with vintage music from the 40s, 30s and 20s. I also listen to audio books and when hand stitching I watching costume dramas 🙂

  4. youtube.comI mostly listen to CBC radio 1. Programs that I like are hand sewing programs, and ones that I don’t like are machine sewing programs. I do play CDs sometimes too. This is my “grr, sewing machine why is your tension so messed up?” song.


    It’s so cool that you found songs with sewing references in the lyrics! The closest thing in my CD collection is Scarborough Fair, and it specifically says “no needle work”. That song has such impossibly nonsensical lyrics.

  5. Lynne says

    youtube.comMy mother used to sing this one, and it often pops into my head when I am sewing (back when I did sew, that is!). I looked for it on YouTube just now – what a surprise! I had no idea it was from a Betty Hutton film!


    “A sewing machine, a sewing machine, a girl’s best friend…”

  6. Oh, I have to listen to stuff musically that goes with what I am sewing.
    I have a lot of ‘trad folk’ and Swing/Jazz music on my ipod intersepsed with 90s pop and some emo. Oh and the odd comedy song.

    I usually watch tv though.
    P&P for regency. Downton for edwardian. etc.
    Currently sewing doctor who outfit so lots of classic episodes to watch while I sew.

  7. I’m always looking for some new music, and hadn’t heard Avalanche city before. The other youtube selections were already on my playlist. Nice!

    • Avalanche City is a NZ band so it’s no surprise you haven’t heard of them. I’m thrilled you like them: we do some good music here!

  8. Abigail says

    Celtic folk is mostly what I’ll listen to while sewing. Also Handel’s Messiah. 😀

Comments are closed.