Sewing Programme Host Dies
The New York Times last week featured an obituary that caught Sewing4Everyone’s eye – the death of Nancy Zieman, star of Sewing With Nancy.
Born in Neenah in 1953, Nancy Lea Luedtke learned to sew as a child. She later majored in textiles and journalism (an interesting mix!) at the University of Wisconsin Stout, and her first job involved working for a fabric chain, Minnesota Fabrics. She met Richard Zieman there and married him in 1977.
In 1979, she began a mail order sewing supply business, Nancy. Notions. By 1982, its success led to a fabric store in Milwaukee asking her to host a sewing programme, which first ran on the Satellite Program Network.
As cable television was in its infancy, not many people watched – something Ms Zieman later said was a good thing as she wasn’t great in front of a camera. The series folded after about a dozen shows when the store decided it wasn’t profitable.
Ms Zieman decided to do something on her own, and Wisconsin Public Television started broadcasting Sewing With Nancy in 1982. The programme was popular and picked up by public television outlets across America and Canada.
Ms Zieman was able to reach a large audience of those who did sewing seriously and the more hobby-based fans trying it out on a used sewing machine.The NY Times described her style as “nothing flashy”, but “straightforward advice, delivered with geniality”.
All in all, some 910 episodes went out, the last one ‘I Sew for Fun, a show on team sewing with children aged five to nine that featured her granddaughters.
The sewing host also published numerous sewing books and made appearances at expos and other events, such as the Sewing Extravaganza in 1992 in Florida. There, attendees flocked to see Ms Zieman, who wore a turquoise and pink suit she’d made herself.
Apparently, she was also a “go-to interviewee” for reporters writing about the increased interest in sewing. Her explanation was that people want to feel creative and that sewing offered the opportunity to create, when often work doesn’t.
[And a used sewing machine is a great place to start, if you want to get creative yourself.]
Published in 2013, her autobiography (written with Marjorie J Russell) is called “Seams Unlikely: The Inspiring True Life Story of Nancy Zieman,”.
Nancy Zieman died on 14 November at her home in Beaver Dan, Wisconsin. She was 64.
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Picture thanks to Wisconsin Public Television.