Home Beth Said Sew Remembering the Sewing Legacy of an Amazing Woman!

Remembering the Sewing Legacy of an Amazing Woman!

by Beth Cooper

Nancy Zieman. Pioneer. Sewist. Educator. She was all of this and so much more.  We honor her legacy by continuing her mission – a mission to teach others the joy of sewing.  We kick off 2024 by taking a moment to remember this extremely talented and amazing woman.

Nancy loved sewing education and taught the world to sew. We honor her legacy by dedicating Nancy’s Notions to sewing education. Our site is full of helpful sewing and quilting articles, inspiration, and free projects. Honestly, I like to think of it as a really cool quilting magazine. It’s just on my screen instead of in my mailbox or something I have to buy in the grocery store checkout line. Every week we add new content on sewing, quilting, free patterns, and more. We no longer sell anything on Nancy’s Notions. We are simply here to educate and share sewing ideas. All products can be purchased on our sister-site, Missouri Star Quilt Co.

Jenny Doan of Missouri Star Quilt Co. and Nancy Zieman

My “Nancy” Story

I first saw Nancy on tv.  It was the mid 80s and I was in grade school.  My best friend’s mother watched her program every Saturday morning on PBS.  I was intrigued because my own mother didn’t sew and everything Nancy was doing was new to me.  I remember watching her and thinking that I could never sew something and run a sewing machine like that.  If you would have told me then that I would grow up to be a lot like Nancy and that I could sew like that, I would not have believed you! 

For the next ten years I didn’t see much of Nancy or give her much thought until… dun, dun, DUN!!!  I took a quilting class!  No, not with Nancy (I wish!).  It was a small class at a local quilt shop in a tiny town in Southern Illinois.  A friend had invited me to go with her.  It sounded like fun and the shop owner assured me that a beginner could take the class.  And I was the beginningest beginner that there ever was.  I promptly went to Wal-Mart and bought a $99 sewing machine and some thread.  I took that machine (still in the box, mind you) to my first class.  There, I picked out a beautiful selection of fabric to complement what I had already bought at Walmart.  My sweet friend, Emily, helped me unbox my new machine and set it up.  Then she showed me how to thread it.  She explained what the bobbin was and how to wind it.  Twice.  And by this time I had missed the instructions on the first block and the class was probably at least half over.  Thank goodness they were all patient with me!

A Big Oops!

It was time to start sewing.  Pedal to the metal and I was off!  Except no one had told me that I had to lower the presser foot before I began!  Oh geez.  You can imagine what that first seam looked like.  And that was when I began my close relationship with Jack the Ripper.  That seam ripper and I were suddenly besties.  The pattern for this class was a sampler and each block was different.  Each block was also hard as heck and knowing what I know now, that quilt was definitely NOT a beginner quilt!  Thankfully, I am incredibly stubborn, full of grit, and I refuse to give up.  Ever.  Ask my husband.  He will testify that I am indeed stubborn as a mule.

Being a strong-willed woman (doesn’t that sound so much more empowering than stubborn?) is an asset though.  I wasn’t going to give up on learning to quilt even though I was a beginner quilter in an intermediate class.  I stuck with it.  I persevered.  I sewed.  I unsewed.  I sewed again.  And I improved.  I got so much better.  That first quilt is still pretty messy when I look back on it, but honestly, I love it.  It is a symbol of growth, goals, and perseverance.  And I bet you have a quilt or sewing project like that, as well.

Continuing the Legacy

The path to greatness has to start somewhere.  My sewing journey started in a little back room of a quilt shop but so many others’ started with Nancy Zieman.  She loved educating others and teaching them how to sew.  As Julia Child was to cooking on PBS, Nancy was to Sewing on PBS.  She was a true pioneer.  She began Nancy’s Notions in 1979, the same year I was born.  It was a huge success and she reached so many sewists through the years.  Sadly, Nancy passed away in 2017.  In May 2020, Missouri Star Quilt Company took over Nancy’s Notions.  Nancy left us a legacy and some pretty big shoes to fill.  But that’s okay.  We are always up for a challenge. 

I’m glad you’re here and I hope you’ll join us as we start another year of sewing at Nancy’s Notions. 

‘Til next time,

Beth

(Want to be one of the first to see our new content each week? Just sign up for the Nancy’s Notions Newsletter! It is just one email per week and will update you on all the fun things going on at Nancy’s Notions! Click here to sign up!)

Want to read more Beth Said Sew? Click here!

Be sure to check out Quilting 101 and Sewing 101 on our website! (This is where you can find free patterns, a Quilt Along, tips, tricks, advice, and more!)

Remember, sewing and quilting notions and supplies are now sold on our sister-site, Missouri Star Quilt Co., where there
is a new Daily Deal every single day! Click here to check out today’s deal!

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Barbara
Barbara
1 month ago

Watched Nancy Zieman for years. She made things easy to understand. Miss her.

Suzanne Polinchock
Suzanne Polinchock
1 month ago

I too watchd Nancy on PBS when my children weere babies and I was a stay at home Mom. I learned a lot from her as I took to my sewing machine to create clothig for the kids and me. Quilting is a rather new craft for me. Although I have been at it for 30 years, I still consider myself a novice.
I gained great respect for Nancy after reading her book Seams Unlikely. My goodness! What a will to succeed that woman possessed and a very strong faith. The sewing world lost a truely great pioneer when this dear lady passed.

Joyce
Joyce
1 month ago

If you’ve sewn for years, you can handle any, and I mean any, quilting project

Victoria L. Ogletree
Victoria L. Ogletree
1 month ago

WOW, She’s gone? She is missed. And yes hers are pretty big shoes to fill. Ladies . . . Let’s get to it! We have been passed the baton.

Charlotte
Charlotte
1 month ago

I met Nancy numerous times when she visited the Puyallup Sewing Expo (which I’ve been attending since 1996), and always watched her show on PBS. My husband even enjoyed watching her, even though he has no interest in sewing! He said her teaching was easy to understand and interesting to watch. She got a kick out of that when I told her. When I bought her autobiography, I asked her to sign it to both of us, and she did! (And when I read her autobiography, it turned out we had many similarities in our backgrounds–growing up in farming communities, learning to sew in 4H, active in church, etc.)

Pat Moore
Pat Moore
1 month ago
Reply to  Charlotte

I watch PBS the Saturdays Nancy is on. I see her at 230 pm central time. She was great

Felicia Voris
Felicia Voris
1 month ago
Reply to  Pat Moore

I did the same! I loved her love of sewing, and I hope she knows how many people she blessed as she shared her knowledge!

Nancy
Nancy
1 month ago

Watched Nancy for years and have also did a lot of your classes, I enjoy sewing so much but want get to do it in a few year. Don’t know how long I have maclergeneraton, it a blindness, I have enjoyed you both so very much.

Debbie Rummel
Debbie Rummel
1 month ago

I love watching Nancy even to this day she is a favorite for my husband and myself. I save every video of her that i can find. One day soon i will begin teaching my grandaughter to sew and i will be sure she watches all of Nancy’s shows. I would have so enjoyed meeting her. I’m very glad to hear Missouri Star Quilt Co is carrying Nancy’s Notions and still honoring her legacy.

Diana nighswonger
1 month ago

Yes I watched her also for many many years. She is missed. I really wish PBS in Iowa would put her shoes back on.

Paula edgmon
Paula edgmon
1 month ago

I entered my email 3times and it kept saying enter again

Donna
Donna
1 month ago

Rarely missed a Saturday episode aired on PBS. Nancy was a wonder when it came to a sewing machine and a star with pattern alterations.

Judy
Judy
1 month ago

I remember her, so nice & sweet & smart. I

Carol
Carol
1 month ago

Beth, loved the story about Nancy.

Rosie Pandaliano
Rosie Pandaliano
1 month ago

My mom sowed like a champ..made many outfits during ’50 & ’60
As a young mom,,I made a few things for my toddlers. ☺
Glad to find your site ♥

Melissa
Melissa
1 month ago

I loved watching Nancy on PBS. I have been sewing on and off for years. I am a huge fan of Missouri Star Quilt Co. videos on YouTube. I love that thanks to you Nancy’s legacy will live on. Thanks for sharing your Nancy story!

James
James
1 month ago

Thank you for the tribute to Nancy. I enjoyed her show and enjoy watching MSQ on YouTube.

Cynthia
Cynthia
1 month ago

I too watched Nancy when I was a kid. She taught me a lot. My grandmother had a peddle sewing machine and that is what I first used. I think for about my 13 or 14 birthday, my mom bought me a new sewing machine from Sears. I threw it away 10 years ago when I moved because it didn’t work right. I wish I had kept it. I’m almost 68 now. But I’ve moved on and have 3 machines. Regular sewing, a serger, and I just bought an embroidery machine last year. I want to get it out now since my husband passed away not long after I bought it. I didn’t have time then caring for him, but I do now. I just need the motivation. Happy sewing everyone, and thank you Nancy!

Ann
Ann
1 month ago

I loved Nancy and watched her also for years before I went to work in evening shift.

Nancy
Nancy
1 month ago

I have watch Nancy for years really miss her dearly

Jane Glotzer
1 month ago

Also watched Nancy on pbs Saturday mornings. Still use the fabulous trick of hers to hem jeans and keep the original bottom seam. Genius hack! I was unaware she had passed in 2017… Rest In Peace, Nancy! But I know you’re still buzzing away on that machine!! Jane Glotzer, Boulder, Colorado

Debbie Reynolds
Debbie Reynolds
1 month ago

Oh, my…..I did not know she had passed away…….
What a loss…… she was awesome…

Kim H
Kim H
1 month ago

I also watched Nancy faithfully every Saturday morning. I didn’t discover that she had passed until 2 years afterward. I was SO sad, I felt like I had lost a friend. But I know heaven now has beautiful quilts, and all the angels have brand new beautiful robes. 🙂

Dianne
Dianne
1 month ago

I loved Nancy’s Notions. I learned so much from her. I still use her books all the time.

Janyce
Janyce
1 month ago

My daughter and I worked with Nancy at Nancy’s Notions for 7 years here in Beaver Dam. She was an amazing woman! She knew everyone that worked there by name and would personally hand us Birthday cards. We all got together with our departments and had pictures taken of us and made a huge framed collage for Nancy and presented it to her at a restaurant. She was so happy! Truly an asset to everyone she touched whether in person, her products or media. My granddaughter was even a model for her in the catalog 🥰. So happy her legacy is living on, especially being started in the basement of her house how many years ago!! 🥰

PAULETTE
PAULETTE
1 month ago

I’ve been watching her for years; just tbis afternoon. Didn’t know that she had passed. I’ve learned so much from her. My deepest condolences, though late. I’ll continue to watch for as long as it’s broadcast.

Michele Anderson
Michele Anderson
1 month ago

I enjoyed Nancy for years! I had the pleasure of meeting her in Wisconsin and buying my sewing machine from Nancy’s Notions before she passed. She leaves a great legacy,

Fay Goforth
Fay Goforth
1 month ago

I used to her shows too loved them I learned a lot from her ! Even after her show I watched the other one on Saturdays

Rosie
Rosie
1 month ago

I went to college with Nancy at the University of Wisconsin Stout in the 1970s.

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