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I am a mother, a new grandmother, and a teacher. But whatever happens in my life, I keep sewing. I have worked as a political communicator and now as a teacher in my formal life. I have also written extensively on sewing. I have been a frequent contributor and contributing editor of Threads magazine and the Australian magazine Dressmaking with Stitches. My first book Sew.. the garment-making book of knowledge will be published in May 2018 and is available for pre-order from Amazon


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Friday, September 8, 2017

Nancy Zeiman

I have just finished three days pre back-to-school with the kids and was all set to sit down and do a catch-up post on my own sewing.

Then I got a McCalls email with a link to Nancy Zeiman's farewell message. I have tried to post the link but every time I do my computer gets hung up - probably nancysnotions.com is crashing with so many hits.

Nancy Zeiman's cancer has returned and there is nothing more they can do. After I read this I had no heart to write about myself and went to bed. I didn't sleep very well.

Nancy Zeiman is amazing. Her show Sewing with Nancy was a highpoint of my sewing life when my kids were small.

In those days there were few opportunities to connect with other sewers or to learn new techniques. Her show, once a week, and books borrowed from the library were about it.

My children learned early on that when Sewing with Nancy was on PBS if it didn't require the police or an ambulance it could wait. Mom was busy.

Nancy rationalized sewing with calm steady instructions and new ways of doing things that you simply couldn't read in the pattern guide sheets. 

Wrapped corners, pinning and marking in quarters for knit necklines, speed tailoring - her tips have been so deeply integrated into my sewing that in some ways I no longer know where she begins and I leave off.

If you are a new sewer let me tell you past episodes of Sewing with Nancy are worth searching out. You will learn so much.

One of the highpoint of my stay-at-home life then was when I sent in a sewing idea of my own and she read it on her show. They sent me a copy of one of her books too. I remember picking it up at the post office with three small children standing beside me while I unwrapped it. "Does this mean you are famous?" they asked me. 

To those guys Nancy on TV was a giant, and to me too.

I once met Nancy Zeiman.

I was at a sewing show having lunch between classes. A beautiful woman approached our table with a tray. "Hello. Can I join you?" she said. When she sat down she introduced herself "Hi, I'm Nancy."

As if we didn't know.

I wonder about how many women in how many living rooms or family rooms in the basement once a week felt they had a friend who shared their love of sewing like they did, and I did, when we watched her sew on TV.

I wonder how many other women, so busy with other things all day long, all week long, looked for this one half hour to focus on their own real interest. How many of you waited for Sewing with Nancy like I did?

Nancy and I are now old enough to know that life isn't fair. Some stuff happens you just can't do anything about.

We are also old enough to know that the connections you make with other people, and those who shared themselves with you, are all that really matter.

And Nancy Zeiman connected. 


Colleen Gander said...

Thank you for expressing, and so clearly, what many of us are feeling. I owe her much for all the practical sewing I learned. My mother inspired me to sew but Nancy taught me how.

MaryEllen said...

The news about Nancy Zieman made me cry as did your post. I too waited each week for MY time to watch Sewing with Nancy. I taped them & once they got taped over by cartoon movie Robin Hood . My boys blamed their dad-every time they watched Robin Hood it started with SWN . That's a memory I had forgotten. My boys are adopted also like her son . She is truly a super star in my book !!!

Kathie said...

I am even older than you, Barbara, and without children, but Nancy's program were what made me see that I could be an even better sewist. She has given us so much and with such grace. Thank you for describing so eloquently what she means to so many of us.

elliemae28 said...

I too have watched Nancy for years, and have learned so much from her. When her autobiography came out I bought it and learned what an interesting woman she is. I agree, life is not fair. I can only hope that Nancy will live out her allotted days surrounded by family and friends and that she will know how much she has meant to so many.

Linda T said...

Her good-bye letter makes me so sad; I have read it several times and I get the same "empty" feeling afterwards. Such grace! What an Icon is our sewing community.

Kansas Sky said...

I was in tears when I read the blog post on Facebook Saturday morning and I couldn't stop thinking of her. I am so deeply grateful for what she has taught me. I've never missed an episode of her program, even if I don't always watch the quilting ones. ...... I find my mind wandering to her in these days past. Is she in pain. Is she sewing anything. Is she in beautiful surroundings. ... It would be fitting if all of us sewing students could make her elegant loungewear for this part of her life. But, of course, her privacy is her great privilege and I wouldn't even attempt to breach that for anything. She is well aware that we love her. .... May her days be full of the deepest blessings. ....THANK YOU for sharing what you said. It is comforting to us all.

Janine said...

It is very sad. I have a Nancy Zieman pattern so perhaps I will sew up in tribute.

Laceflower said...

I read her farewell message a few days ago and was so sad to learn of her devastating health news. Her programs weren't available to me in my early sewing career but I did watch her later when they were more widely distributed. My early TV educators were Angela de Bello and Shirley Adams.

Dawn said...

Sewing With Nancy WAS that precious half hour of learning and feeling connected. She is a light.

Kathryn Hoyman said...

Thank you Barbara for letting us know. I, too, was a regular viewer of her show on my local PBS station. And her book about fitting with the pivot and slide technique changed my life. About a decade ago I went to a weekend workshop hosted by her and it was so much fun. No fluff, no pretentions, just a bunch of people who loved to sew getting together to learn new things.
She was a giant and touched more than a generation of sewists.

LinB said...

I wept when I read her farewell, on Facebook. Right here at my desk in the office, I just cried and cried. She has been such a beacon of courage in the face of adversity, just as much as an amazing innovator and teacher. I still use one of her early, self-published patterns -- the tulip slip -- which I bought right after it came out. Her sewing books are filled with clear instructions and helpful photographs and illustrations. She will be sorely missed.

Carolyn (Diary of a Sewing Fanatic) said...

You just wrote what I feel about her and how sacred that 30 minutes was in my house on Saturday afternoons too. Like you I learned so much from those thirty minutes and her books. Besides the internet, she and Sandra Betzina formed who I am as a sewist.

Honestly I loved that she got the chance to write such a wonderful letter, that she is bowing out to spend time with her family and friends instead of working right up to the end. I only hope that she realizes the legacy she leaves behind as well as the legion of devoted fans.

A classy lady, she will be missed.

Ellen said...

Thank you for posting this sad news. As other have noted Nancy Zeiman is an amazing woman.

Carol Smith said...

I, too, am such a Nancy Zeiman fan, and have learned so much from her for sooooo many years. I summon her patience when I'm sewing something difficult and her humility when projects turn out perfectly. Her books are on my sewing shelf and patterns in my pattern files. What a legend she leaves on our hearts!

Thank you, Nancy, and may your remaining days be filled with love and light.

garnet128 said...

Yep, ditto all you said. Thank you for putting what I couldn't into the perfect words.

VickiSC said...

Absolutely heartbreaking! Just like you and others on here, I learned how to sew from Nancy. Nancy made it seem like I could do it and she was very thorough and easy to understand. Saturdays with Nancy were also the highlight of my weekend and I tried to never miss an episode. My kids also learned this was "my time" and they better not disturb me. I also have several of Nancy's books which are great. My prayers are with Nancy and her family.

Patricia Gardner said...

I cried when I read this. Many years ago, when I was at home with small children and living way out in the country, Nancy was the light at the end of the tunnel for me. Sewing with Nancy was my half hour. I am so sad to hear this. You said, so poignantly, what I am sure, many of us are feeling.

Anonymous said...

I thought of you immediately when I heard this sad news, remembering what you had written earlier about how important Nancy was in your life. I'm sorry for all of our loss as well as the tragic personal implications.


SewTypical said...

Oh this is so sad!
Nancy Zieman creative, brave, inspirational - just a wonderful teacher.