Nancy Zieman was the sole star of “Sewing With Nancy,,” besides her trusty sewing machine, has died one day after the final episode of Sewing with Nancy aired. Mrs. Zieman was 64, and had been a steadfast presence on public television for thirty five years with lots of advice for sewers of all abilities.

Read more: C431 The sewing mistress, Sewing with Nancy Zieman

The cause was cancer, said an announcement from Wisconsin Public Television, which produced the show. On Sept. 2, Ms. Zieman wrote a post titled “Time to Say Goodbye” on her website, telling fans that she was retiring and that one of the cancers first diagnosed in 2015 had metastasized.

“I am finding great peace today,” she wrote, “knowing that I can thank you for your many years of dedication, viewership and friendship.” 

                                                         4-H Sewing

Nancy Lea Luedtke was born on June 21, 1953, in Neenah, Wis. Her father, Ralph, and her mother, the former Barbara Larson, owned a farm. She learned to sew as a child. Her first sewing project for the local 4-H Club was a gathered skirt and fringe scarf. She graduated from Winneconne High School in 1971 and majored in textiles and journalism at the University of Wisconsin-Stout. Her first job was working for a fabric chain, Minnesota Fabrics, now defunct. 

 “They had a propensity to hire farm kids, mainly because of their work ethic,” Ms. Zieman said in a 2007 interview.

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It was at that chain, she met Richard Zieman. They were married in 1977. Ever ambitious ,with her Moon in the second house, in 1979 she started a mail-order sewing-supply business, Nancy’s Notions. Just three years later, a Milwaukee fabric store asked her to host a sewing program, and it just kept going. Her program first ran on the nascent Satellite Program Network.

“Cable TV was in its infancy, and thankfully not many people watched the show because I was really green in front of the camera,” Mrs. Zieman said. Over the years she was poised and nonplussed. With a preponderance of planets in Cancers in the eleventh house she was natural representative of those women who wanted to express their creativity and flair.

After about a dozen shows, the store concluded that the effort wasn’t profitable, but Mrs. Zieman decided to try to do a version on her own. Wisconsin Public Television began broadcasting “Sewing With Nancy” in September 1982, and it was soon being picked up by public television outlets across the United States and in Canada.

Mrs. Zieman reached a substantial audience of serious sewers and casual ones, delivering tips on stitching, quilting, sewing shortcuts and more. There was nothing flashy about the programs, or about Mrs. Zieman’s repartee; just straightforward advice, delivered with geniality — Venus in the ninth house of publishing and the handle to her bucket.

She also published numerous sewing books and made appearances at expos and other events, like one called Sewing Extravaganza in 1992 in Florida that drew 360 people.

                                   That Odd Smile

Mrs. Zieman was a counterintuitive candidate for TV personality. When she was 14 months old, an ear infection led to Bell’s palsy, a condition that resulted in partial paralysis of the right side of her face and giving her a noticeably asymmetrical appearance. Only in 2011, after hundreds of episodes, did she address the subject on the air, after she had received a rude awakening when she did an internet search on her name.

“Mail and blog comments prove that something about what happened to me has helped others cope with their own challenges,” Mrs. Zieman wrote in her autobiography, “Seams Unlikely: The Inspiring True Life Story of Nancy Zieman,” written with Marjorie L. Russell and published in 2013. “I find that both humbling and exciting.”

Mrs. Zieman is survived by her husband; two sons, Ted and Tom; her mother, Barbara Eckstein; two brothers, John and Dean Luedtke; a sister, Gina Crispell; and three grandchildren and a million fans.

Thanks for it all.  RIP Nancy.

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