RIP, Nancy Zieman

Nancy Zieman, sewing instructor and host of the public television series “Sewing with Nancy” for over 30 years, has passed away.

When I began sewing six years ago, I stumbled across an episode of “Sewing with Nancy” on TV. She was sewing from “A” to “Z”, one basic sewing technique after another.  Anchor Cloth, Basting, Cutting, Double Needles, all the way to Zippers.

It was like the heavens opened. Nancy not only showed me basic skills I needed to learn, but also things I didn’t know I needed to learn.  I bought the book and DVD and several more since.  I still use techniques such as her method for inserting an invisible zipper, and her “absolute easiest” way to sew darts – which I just used for a class project.

And then I read her amazing story.  Nancy Zieman wasn’t just a successful entrepreneur, instructor, and television personality.  She was all of those things against a backdrop of health issues, some very visible, her entire life.

From her autobiography, Seams Unlikely:

On Sunday afternoon, December 12, 1982, I was feeding Teddy when the phone rang. It was David Larson, the one producing Sewing With Nancy.

“This arrangement isn’t working for me,” he said by way of announcing an end to our television production. He was pulling out. “Go ahead and do it yourself,” he said.

We had recorded only eleven programs. Dave did it all, both production and editing. The production and editing crews worked under contract to him. The contract with the Satellite Program Network held his signature, not mine. Without him I felt there could be no Sewing With Nancy, and if it wasn’t profitable for Dave, how could it be for me. That was it. My television career was over.

A couple of nights later I awakened in the middle of the night in a sweat, something that had never happened before. As I bolted upright in bed, the thought came to me and wouldn’t leave: ‘If you don’t do this now, you will never have another opportunity.’

In the morning I began making phone calls to see if I could produce Sewing With Nancy on my own.

Goodbye, Nancy. You are an inspiration and you will be missed.


Quote source: Zieman, Nancy. Seams Unlikely: The Inspiring True Life Story of Nancy Zieman. Glass Road Media. Kindle Edition.

10 thoughts on “RIP, Nancy Zieman

  1. Testosterone

    Aren’t the kindred always a curious meeting, and fuel for our own futures.

    Enjoyed Nancy for many years, she just plain did her thing, and it was as beautiful as she was.

    Now, upon your recommendation, I’m in search of her books – thanks Mike.

  2. Bryden Shiells

    I am really sad to read that…. Nancy helped so many of us with her helpful shows, DVDs, gadgets et al.
    She was always so friendly and courteous – such a loss to the sewing world, and more so her family and friends.

  3. Michael

    Oddly, the sewing blogs and Facebook posts in her memory that I read are written by males. She will be missed.

  4. MonicaAD

    I followed her from my youth on TV. My prayers for her family, friends and fans whom will miss her indeed!!! :(

  5. SJ Kurtz / ErnieKDesigns

    I was never a big fan of Nancy’s sewing shows, but I wasn’t her market. I have grown to be VERY impressed with her story. She never gave up. She failed, she failed better, she got knocked down, she got back up again. She did what she set out to do, and then expanded her goals and got there, too. She did a show with her GRANDCHILDREN. Her story has been hiding in plain sight all this time.”Seams Unlikely” is a great read and, quite frankly, very inspirational. Blessings to her family.


    I was surprised and sad to find this out. I started sewing in the late 70’s and early 80’s when I was in middle/high school. She was the only program on TV that I found that dealt with sewing. Her program has been with me my entire life. Not always a fan of some of her content (the crafting stuff), her garment sewing and quilting tips have been helpful for most of my sewing. I will miss not being able to turn on pbs and see her there. There was something always comforting about watching her program. I will miss her.

    1. mportuesisf Post author


      I only discovered “Sewing with Nancy” a few years ago, and by then she was full into her quilty-crafty mode. From the vintage episodes I’ve seen, as well as her books, it seems her earlier career was much more focused on garment sewing.

      Though many of her current shows didn’t really speak to me (I would fast-forward through the quilting episodes), she still catered enough to the garment sewist to make following the show worthwhile. I really liked her television persona, and she really did have down the art at presenting sewing techniques on camera.

      I agree there was always something comforting about her program, and I will miss that.

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