Show cover of Running Stitch - A QSOS Podcast

Running Stitch - A QSOS Podcast

Running Stitch - A QSOS Podcast explores quilt stories, revealing the inner thoughts, feelings, and motivations of contemporary quiltmakers by drawing on Quilters S.O.S. -- Save Our Stories, the long running oral history project created by the Quilt Alliance in 1999.


Radical Quilt Histories
Quilt enthusiasts have been writing about the craft’s history for over 100 years now, first focused on collecting and sharing patterns based on historic quilts, and later collecting and trading published patterns, in essence building an analog database of quilts. These women began to interpret and synthesize quilt history, eventually moving their newspaper clippings and mimeographed copies to digitized forms. Today, quilt history flourishes in thousands of books and articles, online spaces, and exhibit galleries that collectively have expanded our understanding of the history of quilts and quiltmaking. The QSOS oral history collection of the Quilt Alliance has further contributed to that history by recording and preserving interviews with living quiltmakers. And Running Stitch now mines that archive, sharing highlights from the collection of over 1200 interviews with you. Jess Bailey is adding another layer to our understanding of quilt history. A young and relatively new quiltmaker, Jess makes quilts as a one woman studio called Public Library Quilts, a moniker she discusses with host Janneken Smucker in this episode. In addition to making quilts, Jess is an art historian currently living and working in London, where she studies medieval manuscripts. She combined her interest in quilts and historical research in her recently published zine, Many Hands Make a Quilt: Short Histories of Radical Quilting, published by Common Threads Press.
39:27 12/16/2021
Sewing with Purpose
Sara Trail, and the non-profit organization she founded in 2017, the Social Justice Sewing Academy, has built on a long tradition of quilt artists who use quilts as part of their activist practices. Sara has been sewing and making quilts since she was a child, and transformed her work as a quiltmaker and fashion designer into that of community organizer. The Social Justice Sewing Academy has a mission to quote “empower individuals to utilize textile art for personal transformation, community cohesion, and to begin the journey toward becoming an agent of social change.”    Looking back to the nineteenth century, abolitionists, suffragists, and temperance activists all made quilts that espoused their beliefs, an essential outlet particularly during a time in which women could not vote or run for political office. Quilters continued this practice of using quilts in their activism into the twentieth century, projecting opinions and supporting causes, with Red Cross quilts, quilts celebrating New Deal programs, and quilts supporting political and social causes. Again in the late twentieth century, quilts emerged as a potent symbol of the feminist movement, along with loved ones who memorialized those who died of AIDS with quilt panels, and others who advocated against nuclear weapons, environmental destruction, and gun violence through their quilts. And quilts have remained an important means of communicating about racial injustice, a sad reminder that abolition, emancipation, and the civil rights movement have not in fact left us with a racially just society.
38:50 12/10/2021
Going Pro
We often think of quilters as hobbyists, typically women who like to stitch beautiful bedcovers for use around the home, or to lovingly give to new babies or show off at quilt guild meetings. But for centuries, alongside hobbyist quilters have existed professional quilters, those who find a way to earn money for their craft and even quit their so called day jobs. Going pro requires a big leap of faith, especially for younger quiltmakers, like the ones we are featuring during season three of Running Stitch. And today’s guest has recently taken that leap.  A few months ago Zak Foster was still earning a living as a high school Spanish instructor, something he had been doing for 18 years. But this fall he made the leap to professional, and in this interview he shares with us his motivations for doing so, some of the ways he is marketing his services, and he’ll tell us about the quilt he helped make that recently appeared on the red carpet at the Met Gala.
33:03 12/02/2021
Song Quilts
One of the most exciting aspects of the quiltmaking tradition is that within it, artists continue to innovate the form. Eliza Hardy Jones, has done just that with her remarkable Song Quilts series, combining folk music, oral history, and her creation of a notation system that transcribes music into quilt form. If that sounds completely cryptic, join Eliza, a professional musician, as she joins Running Stitch host Janneken Smucker, to discuss her Song Quilts project. They also listen to QSOS interview excerpts from Michael Cummings and Ricky Tims, who both, like Eliza, incorporate music into their quiltmaking.
30:17 11/17/2021
Learning to Quilt
Some people made sourdough, some people got pandemic pets. Sarah Steiner became the @pandemicquilter, learning how to quilt from youtube and Instagram, and making over 20 quilts since summer of 2020 after not previously knowing how to wind a bobbin. Sarah joins Running Stitch host, Janneken Smucker, to listen back to QSOS interview excerpts about how quilters learned their skills during earlier eras, sharing how the pandemic inspired her to quilt.
30:03 11/10/2021
Season Three Trailer
Coming soon: season three of Running Stitch, a QSOS podcast. This season, we're focusing on younger quiltmakers -- quiltmakers who build on quilting traditions and contemporary influences to make something that's uniquely theirs. We'll listen back to interview clips with quilters from the past two decades, and talk with these quilters about the role of quilts in their lives and in society. Subscribe now and don't miss an episode of our third season of Running Stitch, a QSOS podcast!
02:38 10/26/2021
Outlier Quilts
What do one-of-a-kind, unusual, or outlier quilts tell us about the quiltmaking tradition? In this episode, Joe Cunningham joins host Janneken Smucker to revisit their 2007 interview and discuss how American quilt history reveals a tradition of experimentation, problem-solving, and creativity that today’s quilters can draw on. Joe further contemplates the relationship of art and quilts, recalling his own evolution and liberation as a quiltmaker.
41:58 04/07/2021
Researching Quilt History
Have you ever wondered how quilt historians can unravel the story of a quilt with just a few threads? Do you want the inside scoop on how researchers look for “clues in the calico”? Our guest this week is celebrated quilt historian Barbara Brackman. Running Stitch host Janneken Smucker talked with Barbara about quilt history research and how it’s evolved in the 21st century, how quilts can be used as a lens for women's history, and the new, expanded edition of her Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns. This episode was recorded live, as part of the Textile Talks free weekly lecture series.
43:07 03/03/2021
Quilts and Authenticity
What makes a quilt “sing”? Join us for this episode of Running Stitch, with our guest Denyse Schmidt, to explore that question and more. We’ll talk about what it means—for an object OR its maker—to be ‘authentic’.  Denyse is a groundbreaking quiltmaker, and the designer of numerous patterns and fabrics, the author of Denyse Schmidt: Modern Quilts, Traditional Inspiration and Denyse Schmidt Quilts. We’ll revisit her 2012 QSOS interview, explore the places and eras that inspire Denyse’s work, and end our conversation discussing her upcoming fabric line, “Five and Ten”.
37:16 02/03/2021
Temperature Check on the Quilt Industry
For well over a century, quilts have meant business. A thriving quilt industry has existed since the 19th century, publishing patterns, selling fabrics and supplies, promoting quiltmaking, and offering celebrity endorsements. In today's age of social media and online retail, the business side of quilts has continued to thrive, while navigating all sorts of bumps in the road, including, most recently, a global pandemic. This week, we talk with Linda Pumphrey, Senior Account Executive for Mountain Mist. For decades, Linda has worked for quilt companies, criss-crossing the country managing her accounts. This year, she has stayed home, Zooming with her customers and colleagues. We'll talk with Linda about how quilt businesses have adapted, and the role of celebrity in the quilt industry, both today and in the past.
29:47 01/27/2021
Great Quilts
Quilters S.O.S. – Save Our Stories oral history interviews often include the question, “What makes a great quilt?” Running Stitch host Janneken Smucker asks today’s guest, quilt historian Merikay Waldvogel, to answer this most challenging question, while they also listen back to other interviewees’ responses. What’s the answer? Good planning? Lots of fabrics? First place ribbons? Immortality? Tune in to hear from one of the world’s foremost quilt authorities, who has seen 10,000s of historic quilts, and finds something to like about each one.
34:47 12/16/2020
On Creativity
Running Stitch is back for Season Two, again digging into the QSOS oral history archive to explore the meaning of quilts in American life. In this episode, host Janneken Smucker talks to quiltmaking legend Ricky Tims about the role of creativity in his life. As a quiltmaker, musician, composer, co-host of The Quilt Show with Alex Anderson and Ricky Tims, and founder of Quilt Life magazine, Ricky embodies creativity. We’ll revisit his first interview for the QSOS project, recorded two decades ago in 2000, and continue the conversation with a new interview exploring the intersection of music and quilting, his perspective on the creative spirit, and Ricky’s new novel, Lizzy Albright and the Attic Window, co-written with Kat Bowser.
31:49 12/09/2020
Season Two Trailer
Join us for a very special sneak preview of our second season of Running Stitch. We'll be sharing more amazing interviews from fascinating folks in the quilt world, including Ricky Tims, Merikay Waldvogel, and Carolyn Crump. From an exploration of the creative spirit to a conversation about America's quilt history, you won't want to miss these new episodes!
02:44 12/01/2020
Quilts and Writing
This episode--our last episode of season 1 of Running Stitch--features a panel discussion about quilts and writing moderated by host Janneken Smucker. Our four panelists are quilt journalist Meg Cox, novelist Frances O'Roark Dowell, quilter and mathematics professor Chawne Kimber, and poet and educator Gwen Westerman. All four are writers and quiltmakers and you'll hear them discuss connections between quiltmaking and writing, their creative processes, and the intersection of quilts and words. The discussion was recorded live as part of the Textile Talks lecture series, featuring public programming from six quilt and fiber art organizations across the country. Video of this, and other Textile Talks, is available via YouTube.
40:25 07/30/2020
Quiltmaking Amid Crisis
Quilt legend Jinny Beyer has seen it all in the quilt world over the last 50 years. In this episode, host Janneken Smucker revisits Jinny’s 2013 interview when she shared the quilt she made following 9-11. Jinny joins Janneken to discuss quiltmaking amid crisis, including how independent quilt shops like Jinny Beyer Studio are weathering the current pandemic.
27:37 07/23/2020
Quilts and Civil Rights
During the week after the killing of George Floyd, Running Stitch host Janneken Smucker spoke with Dr. Carolyn Mazloomi about quilts, race, and the long struggle for civil rights. Dr. Mazloomi founded the Women of Color Quilters Network and has curated many landmark exhibits centered on race and civil rights, including “Journey of Hope: Quilts Inspired by President Barack Obama.” This episode features excerpts from several oral history interviews conducted for the Quilts for Obama QSOS sub-project.
35:37 07/16/2020
Quilting and Difficult Times
Let’s face it. It’s 2020 and 2020 won’t quit. We are living through difficult times. While the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are unevenly felt, we are all in the midst of it. QSOS oral history interviews often ask, “How have you used quilts to get through a difficult time?” Our guest for this episode, artist and maker Melanie Testa, first interviewed for the project in 2010, joins host Janneken Smucker to share how she has responded to the COVID-19 crisis by digging into her vast fabric stash and a network of generous friends to make masks to distribute to essential workers.
39:46 07/09/2020
Quilts and Activism
Episode 2 of Running Stitch focuses on quilts and activism. Quilters have long used their work to make statements and advocate for change, tackling abolition, temperance, suffrage, and many other social justice issues. Join host Janneken Smucker for a conversation with quilter and author of Why We Quilt, Thomas Knauer, discussing why quilts are great objects for making statements, and how Thomas communicates politically through his own quilts.
38:05 07/02/2020
First Quilts
Welcome to the very first episode of Running Stitch, the QSOS Podcast. For our very first episode, we’re talking with New York City quilter Victoria Findlay Wolfe. Victoria was first interviewed for the QSOS project in 2011. Our host, Janneken Smucker, talks with Victoria about that first interview, her first quilts, and how her career has evolved in the nine years since. Janneken and Victoria also talk about making a first quilt with their young daughters, what makes a great quilt, and just why we care so much about quilt labeling. Join us for an episode all about firsts!
34:25 06/25/2020
Introducing Running Stitch
Running Stitch, A QSOS Podcast is a brand new podcast by the Quilt Alliance. Join us as we explore quilt stories, revealing the inner thoughts, feelings, and motivations of contemporary quiltmakers by drawing on Quilters S.O.S. -- Save Our Stories, the long running oral history project created by the Quilt Alliance in 1999. Quilts and quiltmaking serve as a lens to examine some of today’s most pressing issues, including activism, public health, politics, race, and the economy. We’ll dig into the QSOS archive to listen to excerpts from past interviews, and bring back interviewees to ask them about what they are working on and thinking about presently. Upcoming guests include Victoria Findlay Wolfe, Carolyn Mazloomi, Thomas Knauer, Melanie Testa, and Jinny Beyer.
03:50 06/12/2020