Ros Bell

I’m Ros and I started sewing at the beginning of 2020. I’m a lockdown sewist, but I’ve always been interested in making my own clothes. As a fat woman, I’ve had to adapt my style to whatever is available in my size, so the possibility of making something myself has always appealed to me. I have a bright, loud aesthetic, and it’s been hard to find clothes that I feel like myself in, and that has messed with my sense of identity. For a long time, clothing for fat people has been limited to dull tunics or skinny jeans, so anything that wasn’t that, I would buy immediately, even if I didn’t love it. I wasn’t able to buy clothes I loved, so I settled for buying stuff that I didn’t hate, and that was a win for me. If you’re a straight-sized person, it might be hard to understand what that feels like, but try imagining it. 
Now, there are a lot of places doing lovely clothes, but I’ve spent too much time and money on clothes that aren’t right for me, and I’m excited to be in charge of what I wear. 

What influence does music have in your life as a creative?:

I really love to sing, so when I’m making something, you’ll often find me singing along to an album or a playlist.

If I’m trying to read words, I can’t listen to music with lyrics, so if I’m working, I usually have electronic, instrumental stuff on, but the second I’m sewing, I can be heard throughout the flat, belting my faves.

Tell us about your playlist:

So, I’m going to take you though my playlist track by track and write down what I’m feeling as I play each track. I’m sorry, but I really am that obsessive about playlists. I have taken (certain parts) of High Fidelity to heart. This is going to be an eclectic experience if you’re listening along. You’re going to hear pop, hip hop, metal and a load of music I don’t know how to categorise. Enjoy!
1. The first track is A Sky For Shoeing Horses Under, by why?. I love why?. I don’t think I can accurately describe how their music makes me feel, but if you ever get the chance to see them, please do yourself a favour and go. For me, this is the perfect starting song. It’s got an amazing introduction and I can’t help but think of the music video, which is recorded in one take and well worth a look. Yoni Wolf, the vocalist of why? writes such incredible lyrics and this song is perfection to me. 
2. Next up is let gO Og my egO by NNAMDÏ, my friend James got me into this album and it’s been a firm 2020 favourite. I’m listening to the playlist as I write this and I’m having to stop every couple of lines to have a dance break. I think that sums up how I feel about this track. Layered, rhythmic, danceable.
3. Speaking of danceable, here’s Robyn with Missing U. We’re gearing up to the ‘night out’ part of my playlist here. This is such a sing-along banger. 
4. Strangers by Sigrid is up next. I’ll never forgive myself for not trying to get tickets earlier for her last tour. This another sing along pop anthem. A joyful, uplifting song that is guaranteed to get stuck in my head for days. 
5. We take a step into a song that makes me feel determined as hell next, it’s Look by Leikeli47. This song has a driving intensity which has got me through many a tricky moment. It’s also a great ego boosting song, “I’m booked for the year, you heard”. 
6 I was completely obsessed with Fake ID in 2019 and it’s stuck with me. It’s dancy and fun and it always puts me in a good mood, which is sometimes necessary if I’m trying to master a new or difficult technique. 
7. Shout out to my friend Califia for getting me into Angel Haze, who is an amazing rapper and lyricist. It’s the claps that make this one for me. I love a hand clap.
8. Open Mike Eagle is one of my favourite rappers/thinkers. His lyrics are hilarious and this song is no exception. I love his self-referrential, wry vibe. It was really hard to choose one song, but Qualifiers is catchy as hell. 
9. Siren 042 takes the energy down a little bit. I love the interplay between Lala Lala’s and Yoni Wolf’s vocal lines in this song. 
10. Pretty Ugly is off Tierra Whack’s 2018 album Whack World. All the songs on the album are 1 minute long and catchy as hell. 
11. We’re moving into more guitar-based songs now and next up it’s Martha with Into This. A heartbreaking song. This is a bittersweet track for me, because Martha was one of the last bands I saw live, supporting one night of The Hold Steady’s weekender in early March 2020. 
12. The same goes for ARXX, who supported The Hold Steady on the last night of their weekender. I love how this song builds and falls away again. ARXX are so great live, I love how they get such a massive noise for just two people. 
13. It had to be a Hold Steady song next, right? I love a narrative and Craig Finn, the singer and lyricist of The Hold Steady, is an absolute master of the narrative. He creates scenes and stories and characters with depth and humanity in such a short time, it’s really incredible. This band has been a major part of my life since I saw them on their first UK tour in 2006 (I think! don’t @ me). I’ve since seen them so many times – I haven’t counted, but it’s a lot. It sounds like a cliché, but their music really has been there for me for most of my adult life and it has a huge emotional resonance for me. 
14. I truly believe that culturally, there’s no such thing as a guilty pleasure. So with that in mind, I present, without apology: If She Would Have Been Faithful by Chicago. A band with about 20 members (it’s actually 10, but with two extras for touring, apparently). This song and a lot of Chicago’s songs appeal to me because of their truly epic harmonies, and dramatic vibe. This song will always remind me of driving around with my sister when I was 14, singing at the top of our lungs and belting out as many harmonies as we could. 
15. Elton John is next to take the stage and I did tell you this was going to be eclectic. Listen, say what you like about him, but he can write a song, and the way Someone Saved My Life Tonight builds is so brilliant. The backing vocals are great, but I’m not here to persuade you. It’s okay to skip it if you don’t fancy 6 minutes 45 of Elton though, I understand. 
16. So Emotional by Whitney Houston is the reason I feel the need to apologise to my neighbours when I see them. 
17. Manchester DJ babes Good Afternoon turned me on to this remix of this Pointer Sisters classic Dare Me. It’s pure 80s disco funk goodness and I’m here for the sassy lyrics (“Looks like you’re looking for trouble, and I’d say you found it. You’ll have to come right through me, there’s no way around it”) harmonies (as always). The Pointer Sisters are a force to be reckoned with and this song is a timeless classic. Fight me. 
18. We’re veering back into guitar-land now with this Car Seat Headrest. I love how loud and… chunky the guitars sound on this track. I’m not sure if that’s the correct word for it, musically speaking, but it fits. Another song with ace harmonies and amusing lyrics, which is a winning combination for me. 
19. This was the first Les Savy Fav song I ever heard, so I had to put it on this playlist. If live music ever comes back, I’ll do virtually anything to see this band live again. You never know what’s going to happen, I’ve had vodka poured into my mouth from a kettle by Tim Harrington (the lead singer), I’ve watched as he almost fell off a balcony in Liverpool, and I’ve seen him gradually shed his furry tiger onesie live on stage, amongst many, many other things. An incredible band and a great song. 
20. Up next it’s another loud as hell two-piece band, JOHN. Shout out to my friend Ben who has amazing taste in music and get me into JOHN. Ghost Printer is 3 minutes of epic, guitar chugging, punk goodness. Get stuck in.
21. Continuing the epic guitar-ness is Solitary Traveller by Torche. There’s something glorious transcendent about this song, and the lead guitar at 1.15 gets me every time. 
22. We’re picking up the tempo a bit again with Mask Maker by Liars. This song is relentless and lyrically pretty weird. 
23. Todd Terje brings us a slice of musical joy with Inspector Norse, which will likely get stuck in your head for ages. I wish I was sorry, but I’m just very much not. 
24. Next up is Nautilus by Anna Meredith. I first heard this song in the soundtrack for the amazing film Eight Grade. It features in a truly iconic moment of the film and I’ve been obsessed ever since. I love me some brass and some weird, unexpected rhythms, and this track has both. What time signature is it in!? I DON’T KNOW! And I never will. It’s evocative and imposing and I absolutely love it. If you’re into it you should watch her Tiny Desk Concert. 
25. This Battles track is an absolute classic. There’s not music to add. It makes me happy every time I hear it. 
26. We’re into the final part of the playlist now, we’re taking the energy right down with David Bazan, a truly beautiful song writer. Dave has done so much live streaming during the pandemic and I’m deeply grateful. I miss live music of course, but the next best thing is having one of your favourite artists sit in his room, in front of a rack of socks drying, playing a song you’ve requested. If you like this song, you should listen to Pedro the Lion, which is Dave’s band. Trouble with Boys is such a beautiful track and has some resonant lyrics. I love the continuous synth that runs throughout it. “Either way, you are worthy of love”.
27. It’s the return of beautiful harmonies again with Body Love by IDER. This song’s sparse harmonies really get me and the countermelody part towards the end is just perfect. I could listen to this on repeat for hours. 
28. The voice on this Headphones track might sound familiar to you. You heard him but one track ago. It’s David Bazan again. Sorry for almost doubling up, but it’s actually amazing that we got this far into the playlist without his input, to be honest. This song is so lyrically devastating. Like Craig Finn who I mentioned earlier, Dave makes worlds with his music. I love how simple this song is, the synth repeats throughout the song and the drums provide just enough punctuation to let the lyrics really hit you. 
29. Whilst we’re talking about devastating lyrics, here’s Craig Finn with one of his solo tracks, God In Chicago. I really have a thing for repetitive piano parts, and I love how the piano in this beautiful song really lets the lyrics take the focus. This song is especially dear to me because I was lucky enough to play the piano and sing backing for Craig when he played this song live on stage at Manchester’s Albert Hall. I feel so lucky to have been able to do that with such a great guy on such a beautiful song. It’s truly one of my happiest memories, and one I’m going to hold on to for as long as I can. 
If you’re still here, thanks for sticking with me on what was, at least for me, an absolute emotional rollercoaster. 

Drisana Rosales

California based writer and maker slow-stitching garments with (mostly) salvaged materials. As a Chicana, I come from a long line of women who constructed their own wardrobes and identities under the pressure of an unwelcoming dominant culture and I strive to honor their work and wear my heart on my sleeve.

What influence does music have in your life as a creative?:

Coming from a family of musicians, I grew up attending dozens of live shows, concerts, and music festivals. Some of my first makes were hand-sewn band tees turned into fitted tanks and tote bags in high school and I went through a phase of knitting and weaving my favorite album covers in college.

As a student of traditional Mexican Danza Folklorico, I became fascinated with music, dance, costume, and set design as tools of storytelling and cultural preservation. I was also fortunate to be taught by a local activist who lectured her students about the wage exploitation and poor working conditions of LA garments workers during this time. Something about this dance teacher telling a class of middle school Chicanos to boycott the fast fashion industry in the mid-2000s was life changing for me, and it has everything to do with why I prefer to make my own clothing.

Tell us about your playlist:

I’m a pensive maker by nature and listening to music helps me get in the zone, while the hum of the machine allows me to sing along a little louder. Featuring some of my favorite songs from artists in constant rotation while I draft, trace, cut, and sew my projects – I’d like to dedicate this mix to my machine(s), my practice, and the things I’ve made in isolation.

Cover photo is a mixtape my dad made with my favorite R&B and Pop hits from the year 1999.

Mariel Richards

I’m Mariel, and a maker who started sewing and knitting again in 2018, and took it up with SERIOUS energy in lockdown v1 earlier this year. I work in the media, as CEO at gal-dem magazine. My job is often creative in developing strategies and ideas for clients and our team, but I rarely get to have my hands fully in the creative production. Sewing and knitting appeases my love of practical hands-on distraction, and my urge to create. I’m loving knitting at the moment and have about 3 baby blankets on the go. With sewing I love dressmaking, where I get to explore a ridiculously girly version of Mariel who I had no idea existed until I landed in this online sewing community and immediately made up like 40 tiered / gathered / puffy / flounced / ruffled dresses and jumpsuits.

What influence does music have in your life as a creative?:

Music is often a distraction to me – I work better in the quiet or to abstract noises like rain sounds or fires crackling (s/o to my ASMR crewdem), BUT, music is confidence for me.

In the day to day admin, in trying to do too much too often, music reminds me to stop, be silly, be sexy, be cool, be myself for a moment and just live (and dance) in the moment. Music is a rest, a release, and a reminder.

Tell us about your playlist:

Listen. Sometimes you can get so caught up in the day to day, or in the small failures of a make that you forget that you really are THAT flame. You made this, you started this, you created this, you own this. This playlist is my slow smooth journey from the quiet sexy jams into the big bold beats that remind me to take a second and check myself out, celebrate myself, post a thirst trap – believe in my sauce.

Anything (no matter how bungled, fumbled, abandoned in a fit of chaos and rage) can be transformed with sauce!!! Confidence is the last ingredient that I so often forget to add to my fits – and in the moments that I can’t draw from my own well the moody dark beats from ‘Over’, the bold lyrics on ‘The Weekend’, and pretty much anything from Rihanna or Bey, help me re-remember quiiite how much sauce I really have deep within.

Being real – I understand that it’s not always about how something looks, and there are some problems bigger than a dance and a selfie can fix, but let me tell you, makes always look better in motion – and this playlist *will* get you moving.

Kossoma Kernem

I am French-Cambodian, born and raised in France and lived most of my adult life in Paris, Boston and now Te Whanganui a Tara (Wellington, New Zealand). I have a background of engineering and architecture and I probably love sewing because it aligns perfectly with that; the drafting, the construction, the textures… I don’t have a favorite thing to sew because I love a challenge and sewing something I have never tried before. I think I love the troubleshooting and hacking more than owning the final product. Even though, I am grateful for sewing: it made me love my body again and so happy for not having to step in a changing room ever again!

What influence does music have in your life as a creative?:

I tend to get very focused when I start working on something and sewing is no exception. So music does not really jog my creativity but really pulls me out of my thoughts/anxiety when I hear a beloved beat, makes my hips break a reggaeton move while ironing or makes me throw my hair back dramatically while sitting at my machine, pause and sing (scream) loudly with Alicia Keys. It brings me back to the present, to the feeling of the sunshine or the fabric on my skin, to the beat of my heart, to the joy I have of being alone in my sewing corner and be able to act as weird as I want, also, to pause for a second and check that I am not making any mistakes. It makes me realize that even if I like being productive, it’s nice to pause from time to time, even for a few seconds, and enjoy the process. To have more intention. To be more present.

Tell us about your playlist:

I “borrowed” this title from Magritte’s “Ceci n’est pas une pipe” because, as his painting was a representation of a pipe (but in itself was not a pipe, just a painting of it), this playlist is me but as a playlist. Each of these tracks have a distinct memory associated to them. So yes it is all over the place, because I am all over the place. It is a lot of feelings and a lot of styles. The Beatles and Total Eclipse of the Heart (I used to listen to the French version!) in the car with my Dad when I was a kid. My teenage years growing listening to Electro-Pop in France, my days clubbing on Electro and Latina music, my car commute playlist when I was working in Paris, some after-breakups songs, some hip-hop that I used to listen to in the US, the songs on our US West coast road trip.


So there, this playlist it’s me, or maybe my memories as music. I understand that it’s not for everyone but it makes me really happy. And because the order you listen to it doesn’t matter at all, I listed it by alphabetical order. Just hit shuffle, feel all the feels and dance your heart out.

Gabrielle Amodeo

I’m a writer, artist and PhD candidate from Aotearoa New Zealand. I’ve sewn since my mother thought I could sort of safely wield a needle, and rediscovered garment sewing in 2017. In addition to sewing, I like to knit, weave, draw, paint, read, write, and run. I love to sew from indie pattern designers, and have been slowly defining and redefining, and then redefining again what the colours and clothes are I feel most myself in.

What influence does music have in your life as a creative?:

When I’m making—be that artworks, sewing, knitting or otherwise—I tend to listen to podcasts and audiobooks. I need my mind to be occupied by something and then I can let the processual nature of doing-with-my-hands take over. Music accompanies me in two other opposite but linked parts of my life: I listen to music when I write and when I run.

Writing is the place I feel most creative. It’s where I gather my thoughts and emotions and memories and experience and technical skills in a way that requires an almost total concentration of being. Writing requires me to be vulnerable and open. Slower, quieter, gentler songs, songs I know so well I can put them on like a familiar jumper and be fully immersed in them, form the backdrop of writing.

But running requires me to be fully present to my body. Opposite to writing, running helps me to temporarily leave my mind behind. It gives me the mental break from the demands of writing, brings me back into the world and tops me up with new thoughts and new energy. When I run, I want a song that will hook me behind the bellybutton and drag me up that hill, a beat to thump the pavement in time to, a lyric that will have me singing through my breathlessness.

Tell us about your playlist:

Peaks Cols Valleys Sea is a love letter to my adopted hometown Te Whanganui-a-Tara, Wellington. This is a place of stiff winds and steep hills; a ramshackle landscape that exemplifies the perpetual slow-motion-tumble of mountains into seas. This is the place in which I fell hard into a period of depression and anxiety from unprocessed childhood trauma, and where, with therapy and love and friendships, I’m slowly, painstakingly, carefully putting myself back together. Te Whanganui-a-Tara has been the landscape of processing my deepest pains and highest joys, and, in a way that I haven’t experienced before, my most even-keeled contentment.

In this place, sewing, writing and running came into my life and became the mainstays of this processing. Running the hills and rocky coastline brought me back in touch with my body; writing helps give narrative to the cluttered chaos of trauma, and crystalise experience into new forms of beauty; and sewing was a large part of giving me back the confidence to be in the world again.

Some of the songs of Peaks Cols Valleys Sea have been with me for a hundred years, some have only come into my life recently. They all, though, are resonant to me: through a lyric I’ll endlessly mull over, a memory that lifts from its melody, a story they tell, or a beat that inevitably makes me want to dance like the uncoordinated noodle I am. Peaks Cols Valleys Sea is shaped like walking a mountain: it starts slow and low, and climbs to a peak with quick rhythms and strong beats, before descending again into a calmer valley. Peaks Cols Valleys Sea encapsulates the visceral experience of deep connection I feel to Te Whanganui-a-Tara.

Jennifer Kubicsek

I’m a mom and full-time student studying clinical laboratory science. I sew, bake, knit and embroider too. Busy hands keep me centered and present.

What influence does music have in your life as a creative?:

Music is something that reminds me of who I am, what makes me smile, sing, and move. Music that speaks to me is the kind I can sing loudly to (alone, in front of only my most trusted people), that wraps me up completely, that was inhabits me. Honestly, while sewing I listen to more long podcasts than music because I get distracted by both or either. Sewing and music have the same kind of experiential hold on me.

Tell us about your playlist:

These songs are a sampling of what albums hit the spot on any given day. I like what I like and for a long time- I’m extremely loyal when it comes to music. So if you like one of the songs, I encourage you to try the album (I think there’s something only a couple of singles on there). These are kind of a cross-section of different stages in my life, but all resonate with me still.

Emma Cole

I’m a freelance editor in Canada, and in my spare time I make stuff. I knit a lot, and sew when I get a chance. I make lots of garments, and tend to make multiple versions of things I like, especially when sewing.

What influence does music have in your life as a creative?:

If I’m sewing, I like to put music on. I was briefly the singer in a band in high school, and I still sing along to almost everything if I know the words. I like to get lost in music, and a good song will totally get me motivated. I grew up in a house where music was always on, and my parents loved exposing us to the music they liked. I try to do the same with my kids, and of course they are not big fans of a lot of it, but maybe they’ll like it when they get older.

Tell us about your playlist:

There is no theme here, really. It’s just stuff I like. I listen to a lot of 90s music because that’s when I was a teenager, so it’s stuck with me. Some Canadian stuff in case you all haven’t heard it, some hip hop that gets me dancing, some loud stuff because it’s fun to scream along when you’ve had a bad day, and some great vocalists.

Samantha

I’m a 33yo sewist living in the North East of England, I was born in Stockport and most of my family are located there, being away from them gives me lost of extra time to practice my crafty things. I mainly sew garments but do like to dabble in small soft toys and utility pieces. I’m disabled and have chronic health conditions, I learnt to sew during a period of recovery from a brain infection and found solace in learning a new skill when lots of things had been taken away from me.

What influence does music have in your life as a creative?:

I love to listen to music whilst I’m sewing to help create a happy space, I find when I’m happy and positive my creativity and concentration flows better. My favourite thing to do is have a little dance around wearing a half finished garment in the mirror, its great for helping me see fit issues, get a feel of the garment, how it moves and how it’s coming together. I do tend to listen to a specific genre depending on my mood and what time I’m working on. If it’s something more difficult that requires my full mental attention like pattern drafting, I love to listen to classical piano music. When I’m feeling slightly frustrated by thing outside of my creativity I lean towards heavier rock music.

Tell us about your playlist:

This is a collection of some music that makes me smile from lots of different genres that I listen to, the songs might have a personal connection that remind me of a happy moment or just upbeat and happy.

Joanne Yusuf

I am SAHM to three children on our current homeschooling adventures, living in Seattle, WA. Pre Covid I worked as a Mindfulness Lead Facilitator at a local Pre School. I like to sew on a whim where ever my creative mind wants to lead! It is challenging for me to stick with sewing plans and sewing a capsule style wardrobe, because my thoughts might change one week to the next. I really enjoy sewing jeans, and the occasional maxi dress with big sleeves.

What influence does music have in your life as a creative?:

Music has always played a role in my creativity. As a young person growing up, I could rely on music and writing to be my form of escapism and self expression. My style in music has changed much like my style in clothes, but I gravitate toward deep lyrical rhythms, moody melodies and instrumental sounds.

I find Jazz to be incredibly relaxing and I can get into the zone of my creative soul while listening. Some days I might need more energy so I put on my beloved Reggae and other times feeling inward and will listen to moody folk style music. I will also resort to podcasts, my husband’s political news in the background, or the sound of silence.

Tell us about your playlist:

I created a mix of everything that represents me to the current day. I named this mix Soul Vibration because it keeps me in high vibration energy and puts me in a soulful mood. I can dance to while ironing, sipping tea and stitching, allowing myself to be in the creative flow. As mentioned Jazz is really hitting that sweet spot for me, sometimes I will just exclusively keep Jazz radio going, particularity loving the new Jazz Artist Christian Sands. However I combined some of my favorites to mix the mood.

Kathryn Formoso

I am a 4th grade teacher living in Philadelphia and I have been sewing for about 6 years. I taught myself to sew on a very old machine while I was on unemployment. From there got an internship with a small lingerie/swimwear company in Brooklyn. I moved to Brooklyn for two years and the internship turned into a Head of Production job where Iearned most of what I know about sewing.


I mostly work with wovens which is great because I only have a straight-stitch industrial Juki so I don’t have anything fancy on my machine (not even zig zag). In the past I’ve sewn any and everything and now I am working to really think about my wardrobe and what I need. I like useful, everyday wearable clothes. I am really into the Dawn Jeans right now. But also thinking about making a porch swing so I am distracted. Also knitting socks.

What influence does music have in your life as a creative?:

I listen to a lot of different kinds of music and I always have it blasting while I am sewing. I think it motivates me…I wouldn’t say it helps me concentrate but it does help me get into the work that I am doing. I change up what I am listening to often because I have the bad habit of letting playlist play on repeat for HOURS while I work and then all of a sudden I can’t stand listening to those songs anymore.


My partner is a musician and there is often a lot of music in the house. We have a practice space in our basement where some bands play (not since the pandemic). I have a lot of respect for musicians especially because that is one thing I KNOW I could never do. I am not musically inclined in any way. I’ve tried.

Tell us about your playlist:

This is the music that I am listening to right now. A lot of the bands are from Philadelphia because there is SO much good music here. My brain is fairly scattered, creatively speaking, therefore my playlist is pretty diverse in genres because while I am working I need the change in pace.