Madalynne by Maddie Flanigan
“I’m really happy with what my blog offers today – tutorials on bra making, glimpses into my own sewing projects, one-day intensive bra making workshops and more.” – Maddie Flanigan.
by Michelle Broomes and Luis Paredes
Taking solace in her hobby of sewing, Maddie Flanigan not only found a place to which she could retreat but a passion at which she excelled.
Recovering from the loss of her adoring mother to breast cancer in the prime of her life, Maddie reckoned that life was too short to dither and she threw herself into those things she loved, which included sewing and blogging. Schooled by her larger than life sewing mentor, Myshka, who unfortunately passed away earlier this year, Maddie kept sowing the seeds for what is now an idyllic career and lifestyle.
A background in technical design placed her in pole position to grasp the intricacies of making intimate apparel. Today, she busily makes lingerie and teaches others to enjoy this activity as well.
Adding a talent for taking great photographs to her list of virtues, Maddie combined the right ingredients for the perfect sewing blog – Madalynne.com.
And now she tells TLJ about her love for lingerie, what it’s been like overcoming a life crisis and bringing Madalynne this far.
Q&A with Maddie Flanigan
Maddie, thanks for taking the time to do this interview! Could you tell our readers who might not be familiar with madalynne.com, a little bit about yourself and your site? When did you start the site?
Let’s start with the basics. My name is Maddie Flanigan and I am a 27-year-old blogger, aspiring lingerie designer and freelance photographer. I started my blog, Madalynne, when I was 18-years-old at the suggestion of my father. It was 2006 and I was a freshman in college. In hindsight, I believe it was his way of keeping an eye on his only girl. Thank you dad! At first, Madalynne had no focus. I didn’t know what to write about so I wrote about everything – fashion, food, travel, beauty, cars, history, etc. I was a hot mess. Shortly after I started blogging, I discovered sewing, and as I got more involved and passionate about it, my blog naturally evolved into a sewing blog.
About three and half years ago, I made my first pair of underwear, and it was the beginning of my love affair with lingerie. It’s been a huge learning curve, and I attribute a lot of my success to the fact that I worked in technical design for intimates for two and half years. Having that foundation in sewing, patterning and producing lingerie has helped me tremendously.
Madalynne has grown organically over the past nine years, and that’s just the way I like it. I’m really happy with what my blog offers today – tutorials on bra making, glimpses into my own sewing projects, one-day intensive bra making workshops and more.
I learned that your journey with sewing stems from a personal loss. I had a difficult time reading about what you and your family went through as it brought back tough memories about how I lost my mother, but it was also inspiring to learn how you came through that experience. I hope you could share with our readers this part of your journey?
My life changed drastically when my mother got sick. After fighting breast cancer for four years (believing it was in remission), I came home from school one Monday to learn that my mom’s disease had come back. It had metastasized into her spine, causing it to collapse, and my parent’s jumped on the first plane to MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas. My grandparents took care of my brothers and me for the next 4 months. She returned with two 12 inch rods supporting her spine. All seemed well, but two years later, in January of my senior year, her spine gave out completely. Cancer had eaten everything. Back to Texas. She returned two months later, but her beautiful long legs and blonde hair were reduced to a wheelchair and wig (she chose red in honor of me). She lived for six more weeks.
My priorities changed when I saw how cancer and chemotherapy devastated my mom’s body and ultimately took her life. It wasn’t a rapid about face, but a slow transformation. I realized that life is too short and can be cruel. I decided to surround myself with the people and the things that matter. Sewing was one of them, lingerie now is another.
I loved reading about your apprenticeship with Myshka. Could you tell us a little bit about how and what you learned with her?
Myshka left an indelible impression on my life. I met her not even six months after my mom passed away, and I think it was life’s way of giving me a maternal figure when I needed one. I was only 18-years-old – a senior in high school about to go off to college. She taught me how to sew, but her lessons went beyond the needle. She was very much like an iceberg – there was a lot about her that was hidden. It would seep out in bits and pieces – while I was hemming a pant or resetting a sleeve, she would recant incredible, almost unbelievable, stories. You’d doubt her too if she told you that Valentino is an ass**** and Christian Dior was a very humble man who never thought he was good enough. Turns out, it was all true. At her funeral, the women who knew her best confirmed Myshka’s stories. Yes, she worked for Valentino and Dior. She was also a baroness who spent her younger years traveling the world. She spoke of Monaco often. I recently got a tattoo in honor of her. I might regret it in 10 years, and I might not. Neither Myshka nor my mom lived with regrets and that’s what they taught me.
“About three and half years ago, I made my first pair of underwear, and it was the beginning of my love affair with lingerie.”
I’d like to fast forward a bit to your site again. When you started madalynne.com, did you also offer your sewing workshops and photography services or did they develop afterwards?
Both developed afterwards. It’s a coincidence that I became a photographer. I bought a camera about 4 years ago and the only reason was so that I could share what I made on my blog. People began commenting on my photography – “Wow! You take great photos!” I started taking on small gigs and they became bigger and bigger over time. My love for photography has grown with my love of sewing and I considered them intertwined as this point.
As for my sewing workshops, I attended Blogshop a few years ago and loved how Bri Emery transformed a simple class into a workshop event. There was great food, an inspiring setting and inspirational people. I learned a lot that day, but I also made a great memory. That’s what I hope to accomplish with my workshops.
By the way, your workshops look amazing! I’m hoping you could give our readers an overview of what you offer and how they can take one of your classes?
My bra making workshops are a one-day intensive lesson on how to make a full band, underwired bra from start to finish. I hold them quarterly at my studio in Philadelphia. Some sewing knowledge is required. If you know your way around a machine – you can thread it by yourself, adjust tension, etc. – then you’re proficient enough to attend. All materials as well as sewing machines are provided – all you have to do is show up. Like I wrote above, this is not an ordinary class; it is a workshop event. Just some of what you can expect throughout the day – catered lunch and refreshments, photo ops and backdrops, gift bags, lots of laughs and a me-made bra!
The workshops are sold out for 2015, but I’m currently scheduling for next year. You can email me at email@example.com to get first dibs when registration opens.
Do you have any favorite lingerie brands? Did you discover any new favorites during your visit to CURVENY?
I’m biased and my favorite lingerie brand is Elma Shop. I met Elma about a year ago and she has not only been an inspiration to me, but a huge help in my own growth. We go back and forth via email with tips and tricks to make both of our brands better.
One of my favorite brands at CurveNY was Else Lingerie. Based in Istanbul, Else Lingerie was founded by Ela Onur, and her family was in the lingerie business, so it was natural for her to develop her own line. The brand reminds me of For Love and Lemons, but more classic and less trendy. Their styles are also a mixture of sporty and feminine, which I like.
What’s next for you and your site?
First, more bra workshops! I’m scheduling sessions for 2016, and you can email me if you’re interested in attending. I’m also in the initial stages of releasing a small lingerie collection. I’m really excited that I hopefully will be able to provide other people with my designs!