Behind the Scenes of “Sewing With Nancy”

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Behind the Scenes of “Sewing With Nancy”

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Thursdays are often recording days for Sewing With Nancy. So when I was pondering a topic for today’s blog, I decided to snap shots of a what happens during a recording day. Yesterday we videotaped two shows, part of the 3-part series, Serger Workshop. This series will first be made available on Public TV and online November 13, 2011. Pam Mahshie, Baby Lock Educational Ambassador, is my guest for this series.


The topic was chosen approximately nine months ago 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, and a pre-taping day meeting are all part of every mini-series of the show. The next day, Donna, Pat and I  pack up my van and leave Beaver Dam at 7:00 a.m. and venture to the studios of Wisconsin Public TV in Madison WI—a one-hour drive. Donna is my right hand person in preparing and producing the show; Pat is the editor of all the books.


Phase One: Pack, Unpack, and Organize

Producing a TV show may sound glamourous, 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?


Make-up Anyone?

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 Studio

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 telepromptor. 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. 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.


Most of yesterday was spent at the sewing area; Pam and I had 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, my director, Laurie Gorman, calls the shots with support staff, including lighting and audio engineers.


Pat one of my co-workers, mans the telepromptor and makes sure that I follow the script. I’ve been know to deviate from my outline now and then, hmm.


Dual purpose table

My demonstrations table wasn’t part of the script yesterday 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 elevated 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 amendities 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 taught by a team. I may be the Betty Crocker of the team, yet the group makes it all happen.

Was it what you thought it would be like?

Thanks for joining me, bye for now,

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  • Cindy
    July 8, 2011

    I love behind the scenes! It all seems so perfect from the tv side but it’s nice to see the humans in charge of the perfectness! I really enjoyed the trip around your studio! Thanks

    I am so ready to hear the serger tips. I confess that I only use mine for seam finishes too. I know it could do more but I don’t know how! So hurry!!! 🙂


  • Kelly Sas
    July 9, 2011

    I have been enjoying your TV shows for years and years. I learn so much from the shows, you and your guests. Seeing behind the scenes, who and what goes into making the show makes me appreciate you Nancy even more. I am so glad you are in my life! How rewarding it must be to know you have helped so many of us grow in our sewing skills. I have been attending your big sewing events in Beaver Dam now for the past 7 years because I moved to WI, but even before that I watched you shows religiously and ordered products from your catalog. YOU are a huge part of my life and have a fond place in my heart. Thank you!

  • Denise
    July 10, 2011

    Thanks for the behind the scenes peek… I love your show, I’ve learned so much from watching. You are an inspiration to me! Thanks.
    P.S. I’m also waiting anxiously for the serger workshop…

  • Gordia Prince
    July 17, 2011

    Glad to know that a serger series will be airing in the fall. Looking forward to it as all of your shows. I deligently get every saturday morninf @6am to watch your show. I had the golden opportunity this past spring to meet you and Pam(in Atlanta). I had so much fun and found that both of you were like good friends in the neighborhood. A please come back.

  • Eleanor Shaw
    November 20, 2011

    I am looking forward to your serger class. I attended one of your warehouse show many years ago when I lived in MI. I met your husband-a very handsome and nice man. I have never been anywhere since that can compare with that exerence. I wish I could go again. I have taped many of your tv shows when I ha to work and couldnt watch.

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