• US@UO Studio Visits: Madalynne for Out From Under

    We visit the Philadelphia studio of Maddie Flanigan, designer behind the Madalynne for Out From Under UO-exclusive line, to find out how she designs her handcrafted, feminine lingerie and learn about her journey as a seamstress along the way.
    Photos by Melissa Tilley

    How did you first get started at UO?
    I first started at UO in the sourcing and production department. I was on the technical design team for sweaters, knits and intimates. It was an incredible 2 ½ years during which I learned the ins and outs of manufacturing garments. There's a lot of behind-the-scenes work that happens before clothes hit stores that is not taught in school or in a textbook.

    Throughout my stint in technical design, I maintained my blog, Madalynne. When Urban Outffiters’ parent company, URBN, started an internal website, I switched departments. Now, I handle internal investor/corporate communication in addition to being the Resident Photographer, In-house Graphic Designer and Blogger. I don’t regret the decision. Being out of the design world, I have more energy to design.

    When did you first get started with sewing?
    I first started sewing when I was 18 years old. Six months after my mom passed away from breast cancer, I found her old sewing machine while rummaging through her linen closet. I’m embarrassed to admit this, but I didn’t even know what it was! For all I knew, it could have been a blender.

    I took the machine to my local tailor, Myshka, with the sole intention of learning how to hem my jeans. I was a freshman in college with six weeks to kill during winter break. One lesson turned into a 2-year apprenticeship with a woman who once worked for Christian Dior. Myshka became my mentor and she gave me an incredible foundation in sewing that allowed me to flourish as a seamstress and designer.

    What about lingerie – what made you start working on your own line?
    It was a natural progression to start my own line. Not long after I started sewing lingerie, people asked me to make pieces for them. It reached a point where it was too much for me to handle, so I decided to produce. I was fortunate that I found a local manufacturer. Actually, it was down the street from my studio! Being made in the USA was important to me; being Philly made was even better.

    How would you describe your designs?
    A mixture of sporty and feminine added with functionality. First, my designs have to be wearable and comfortable. Lingerie is like second skin, so if it’s not, you will want to rip it off not even halfway through the day. I try to bring those two together elements by mixing delicate lace with wide, open mesh. I also try to stick to neutral colors – black, cream, nude and the like.

    What about your UO collection – can you walk us through the process for creating something like that?
    The whole process what surreal – I was counting my blessings that I had such an incredible opportunity. I worked with an awesome production team who not only sourced the best fabric and trims, but also ensured that they stayed true to my vision. The collection is based on my own me-made lingerie – Dakota, Sierra, Allegra and Noelle – and as you can see, the UO collection is very similar.

    Is there something you've been dying to make but haven't been able to for whatever reason?
    I have an entire notebook and Pinterest board full of pieces I’ve been dying to make.

    Do you have a favorite piece that you've made?
    My favorite piece is usually my most recent piece. With that said, I’m currently on a bodysuit kick. Can’t stop, won’t stop. I have been experimenting with basic shapes that use different fabric, cutouts, leg line, etc. The first, second and third iteration were fun to make. A fourth is on the way.

    How does your own personal style inform your design process?
    I’m very athletic, but also very feminine. In my own designs, I try to mix these two to create lingerie that is pretty but also sporty.

    Any tips for getting better fitting lingerie?
    Just like a pair of jeans, lingerie is all about finding what works for you. I am not the most well-endowed woman, so I prefer soft bras over underwired bras. It took a lot of experimentation, trial and error and wearing ill-fitting bras to find what suits my shape best, and I suggest other women do the same.

    What sewing machine do you use?
    Way too many! I use both old and new sewing machines. I have a slight addiction for vintage, all metal machines. I have a 1954 Singer Featherweight, a 1974 Singer 457, a Kenmore 1320, a Janome CoverPro 900x, a Juki DDL 5500 (industrial) and Juki MO654DE Serger. My primary machine is a Spiegel 60609, which I also use at my workshops.

    You host lingerie workshops from time to time. Can you tell us a little bit about those? Have any coming up soon?
    My lingerie workshops are one-day intensive sewing class where I teach a small group of women how to make a bra from start to finish. It is sewing boot camp, minus the push-ups and ugly attire, and is a jump-right-in approach that demystifies the world of me-made lingerie. In 8 hours, I cover bra basics but also advanced techniques so that everyone leaves knowing how to make one of their own.

    It’s no ordinary sewing class; it’s very much an event. Just some of what the day entails – catered lunch, sweet treats, giveaway, swag bags, and a mini herbal workshop by my favorite Philly beauty salon, The Parlour.

    There are more workshops coming up in July, August, September and October. I also hosted a bridal shower, which is a new direction for me that I’m extremely excited about.

    Finally, anything else exciting in the works for 2016?
    Yes! More lingerie workshops and I am working on my second collection. Stay tuned!

    To see more from Maddie, follow her on Instagram and her personal blog
    Shop Madalynne for Out From Under