Maddie Flanigan has carved out a unique place for herself in the lingerie world. Barely into her thirties, she has already led an impressively varied career in the industry. I discovered her from her lingerie sewing blog, Madalynne. But she’s not just a blogger.
She’s a patternmaker who has created lingerie sewing patterns for Simplicity. She’s a seamstress and a retailer. Her lingerie creations are sold on her website, on Etsy, and through various boutiques. She’s also a sewing instructor, teaching others how to sew intimates themselves.
This year, Madalynne was featured in both the NY Times and Cosmopolitan. It’s a brand that’s going places! But how did it all begin? And what is it like juggling so many different hats? I spoke to Maddie to find out.
So what first sparked your interest in sewing?
I learned how to sew when I was eighteen years old. As I grow older, the moments I recall become fewer, but the memory of when I first came across a sewing machine is one I haven’t forgotten.
I was a freshman at The University of Miami, and the Christmas holiday was particularly long. I wanted to do something useful with my time, but I couldn’t figure out how. On one of the first days of the holiday break, I was looking for something in my mom’s linen closet when I found her old sewing machine. I decided to take up sewing.
There was a neighborhood tailor, Myshka, who had a reputation for being absolutely nuts. Like a mad scientist. I went to her for lessons, and one lesson turned into a 2 ½ year apprenticeship with a woman who worked for Christian Dior.
You also, obviously, have an interest in writing. As well as your blog, you were the resident blogger for the URBN brands for many years. But you later switched from writing to designing for Urban Outfitters. And not just behind the scenes, but an exclusive intimates collection with your name on it! What was it like to make that transition?
It was very easy. I'm an entrepreneur through and through and feed off of wearing many hats. Switching from blogging to teaching, to sewing, to fulfilling orders, to customer service in one day is what I like to do.
Out of all of that, is there one thing you love doing the most?
Madalynne DIY Thong Underwear Sewing Kit in Blush Pink
My weakness and strength is that I like juggling many roles. I couldn't sit at a sewing machine for eight hours and do one task. But out of all the things that I do, teaching is what I love the most. There are many lingerie companies and bloggers out there, but I believe what sets me apart from them is my teaching.
I personally know and have taught a lot of my followers. I use the word follower, but really, they're my friends... sewing friends. I connect with them, learn from them, and in the end, we both become better at our trade than before we met each other.
For our readers who don’t know, you teach lingerie sewing workshops in Philadelphia. (And occasionally further afield.) What’s your favorite thing about running those classes?
Seeing students leave with the confidence, knowledge, and skills to not just make, but master any lingerie project afterward truly is rewarding. They're not just leaving with a tangible garment, but an incredible experience that they shared with likeminded sewists.
Now, if only we could all make it to Philadelphia! I’m sure we have some readers who can’t attend but would love to get started sewing lingerie. What advice would you give to them?
It's not hard! The biggest battle is finding the right fabrics and trims and having a good teacher or direction. The Barrett bralette and my newest style, the Eloise, can be sewn in a few hours. I can crank one out in two hours flat.
For a newbie, I also highly suggest DIY lingerie kits. They will get you familiar with the types of fabrics and trimmings (strap elastic, picot elastic, hooks & eyes) so that you don't get a headache trying to source it on your own! Plus, you'll save a lot of money with a kit than buying from separate vendors.
Are you interested in teaching yourself to sew lingerie? Some of the Madalynne sewing patterns are available completely free of charge.
Already make your own? I’d love to know how you got into it. Tell me your lingerie sewing story in the comments below!