An educator, entrepreneur, trailblazer, and WBA Hall of Fame inductee, Nancy Zieman hosted Sewing With Nancy on public television stations for more than 30 years. Now, an all-new documentary tells the story of Nancy’s life through her own words and the reflections of those she inspired across a lifetime of education, family and faith.
Nancy Zieman: Extraordinary Grace premieres 7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 23 on PBS Wisconsin.
Zieman was host of Sewing With Nancy, the longest-running television sewing program, produced in the PBS Wisconsin studios and broadcast on public television stations across the country for more than three decades.
Humble and quiet by nature, Zieman provided creative inspiration to her dedicated viewers for decades. An entrepreneur who founded Nancy’s Notions — an international mail order company based in Beaver Dam that started at her kitchen table — Zieman also helped develop The Great Wisconsin Quilt Show with PBS Wisconsin, a vibrant example of her inspiration to others, bringing together people from across the United States to celebrate the art and craft of quilting.
Zieman’s life was also marked by several personal and physical challenges, some of which she bravely shared with her fans. When she died in 2017, the outpouring of gratitude proved her to be a public television icon, who earned an immense and loyal following because of her steady and inspired work on public television.
“Because PBS Wisconsin had such a longstanding and important relationship with Nancy, after she passed in 2017, we knew we wanted to do something to not just honor her but bring her story to the public,” said Laurie Gorman, executive producer of the documentary and longtime producer of Sewing With Nancy. “A lot of people knew her as Sewing With Nancy, and that’s very important, but a lot of people didn’t know about the story behind how that show was created, how Nancy found her calling, the challenges she faced multiple times throughout her life. It’s a story about somebody who overcame a lot of challenges in her life and still was able to find success and artistic expression as well.”
The resulting film is a visual treasure trove of never-before-seen moments from Zieman’s life, from her diagnosis with Bell’s palsy, a rare facial paralysis, as a toddler to the early days of her sewing career to the stops and starts that led her to host Sewing With Nancy.
Featuring archival first-person recordings of Zieman, video from 30 years of Sewing With Nancy, and interviews with Zieman’s family, friends and colleagues, the new documentary tells the story of an inspirational life marked by extraordinary grace.