Behind the Scenes of Sewing With Nancy
Thursdays are often recording days for Sewing With Nancy. So when I was pondering a topic for today’s blog, I decided to show you what happens during a recording day.
The photos were taken during the Serger Workshop Series, the second episode is this week’s featured online Sewing With Nancy video. Pam Mahshie, Baby Lock Educational Ambassador, is my guest for this series.
The topic was chosen after hearing many “serger confessions” where people sheepishly told me that they only use their serger to clean finish raveling edges. The solution—learn the basics with serger master, Pam.
Planning meetings, phone conferences, sewing samples, writing the script and a pre-taping day meeting are all part of every mini-series of the show. On the day of the recording my staff and I pack up my van and leave Beaver Dam at 7:00 a.m., and we drive to the studios of Wisconsin Public TV in Madison WI—a one-hour drive. The two people from the Sewing With Nancy staff that attend each taping are Donna, my right hand person in preparing for the show, and Pat, the editor of the Sewing With Nancy books.
Phase One: Pack, Unpack, and Organize
Producing a TV show may sound glamorous, but like most jobs, it’s work! We unload the machines, samples, and products into carts in the unloading dock.
Donna and Pat set up the sewing machines and/or sergers. All of the samples are placed on tables in the sequence of my scripts. I often wonder just how many step-by-step samples we’ve generated since 1982?
While Pat and Donna organize the samples, I head to the green room for a spin in the make-up chair. Vicki Fischer has been my make-up artist for almost 20 years. I think she has more make-up than I have fabric!
The Sewing With Nancy set has four areas: the round table for openings/closings, the sewing machine/cabinet area, the demo table, and Nancy’s Corner—the interview area.
The three dressforms in the background are commonly referred to as the “back up singers.”
Some of the walls, really aren’t walls. And not to mention, my “sewing room” doesn’t have a real ceiling.
Ready on the set
We begin the day with the recording of the opening of the first show. It’s the only part of the show that I fully script with the copy appearing on the teleprompter. Truthfully, getting that first segment recorded is usually the most trying part of the day.
Trivia: for my 25th anniversary show, I ordered a small bouquet of flowers for the table. It was such a treat to have fresh flowers that I made it my goal to either buy or pick a few sprigs from my garden to brighten up the set each time we tape. I picked these flowers at 6:00 in the morning. You’ll generally be able to tell what time of year we’re recording the show by the type of flowers on the table.
Pam and I referred to this series as dueling sergers!
Luckily at home I don’t have to deal with power and mic cords underfoot.
There are three camera operators and a floor director that join me in the studio.
In the control room Laurie Gorman, my director, calls the shots with support staff, including lighting and audio engineers.
Pat mans the teleprompter and makes sure that I follow the script. I’ve been known to deviate from my outline now and then, hmm.
Dual purpose table
My demonstration table wasn’t part of the script for this series since all segments were featured at the serger—it was an atypical day. Generally I stand behind the slanted board table to demonstrate several steps. The slanted board has a higher option. We elevate it when close-up shots are needed. Called cutaways, samples or finished projects are placed in front of the board on a neutral fabric and a tight camera-shot is captured.
The demo table also serves as a hiding place for lots of notions and amenities including tissues, almonds, and cough drops.
After seven or eight hours, two shows have been recorded and we head back to Beaver Dam. Whew, another set of shows in the proverbial can.
You’ve seen a small view of what the Sewing With Nancy classroom is really like. Unlike a typical classroom where there’s one person in control, my studio classroom is brought to you by a team. I may be the choir director, yet the group makes the music.
Was it what you thought it would be like?
Watch Serger Workshop online
Follow Along with the Serger Workshop Workbook
Pam and I prepared a unique workbook of each of the steps that we demonstrated. The laminated sheets allow you to tape your samples to the pages with double-sided tape.
Thanks for joining me, bye for now,