Sewing is cool. Don’t believe me? Being cool is about being admired. The cool are envied because of their self-confidence in a unique skill. Jesse James, a custom motorcycle builder, is cool. I can’t weld the front end of a chopper, but he can’t line the inside of a bra cup. Our screw ups are equally as painful.

Now that you agree that sewing is cool, let me show you why, with a glimpse into one day of my life as a seamstress:




A Day in the Life of a Seamstress

5:00 AM: In my opinion, if you are not up before 7:00 AM, even on a weekend, you have already wasted too much time. No one becomes successful by sleeping in. While the wealthy wake up to a solitary view of a beach or the sweeping views of a grand city like New York, I wake up to a sight just beautiful. The first thing I see when I get out of bed is my sewing machine. While my de rigueur machine is a PFAFF Expression 3.2, which is a beast boasting over 200 stitches and an IDT feeding system, I brought out my 1956 Singer Featherweight this weekend. YOLO, right? Weighing 11lbs, it hums like a 1960s Ford Mustang, but rides like a brand new Porsche.




A Day in the Life of a Seamstress

5:15 AM: In need of coffee STAT. While I let the java get my blood pumping and my muscles loosened, I read. Call me old school (I prefer the word vintage), but I like taking in my information tangible style. Two books I am constantly reading are Claire Schaeffer’s Couture Sewing Techniques and Twyla Tharp’s The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life. Perhaps one of the greatest choreographers of her generation, Tharp offers her theses on creativity. As scrappy doo as I can be, I am also very methodical, and Tharp’s prescriptions for creativity offer me a system for turning my ideas into realities. She also provides examples of how the unique behaviors and patterns of other luminaries such as Beethoven and Maurice Sendick gave birth to their masterpieces. I find inspiration in knowing that quirks are not setbacks, but advantages. Last on the daily reading list is The Wall Street Journal. Why? Because the WSJ always does it right. Duh!




A Day in the Life of a Seamstress

9:00 AM: Post 10 mile run, I shower and eat a carb- and protein-loaded breakfast – homemade granola with bananas, dates, chai seeds and almond milk. I am now in the right headspace to sew. Although temperatures are lingering in the 80s, typical for August in Philly, fall is on my mind. Currently, I’m working on the prototype (muslin as we seamstresses refer to it) for a dress. Channeling a structured jacket with its double breasted front closure, face-framing flat collar and center back pleat, it’s going to be one of those pieces that can transition from fall to winter to spring. At least that’s the plan. This morning, I’m doing the first steps of any garment construction – stay stitching, sewing darts, etc.




A Day in the Life of a Seamstress



A Day in the Life of a Seamstress



A Day in the Life of a Seamstress

1:30 PM: One of the many series on my blog is called Handmade, where I find and interview local people and businesses that are making a living selling hand crafted products. Just like beer drinkers do, it’s important for me to connect with the Philly community. It boosts my sewing mojo knowing that other people exist who possess as much a passion to create as I do. Up today is Pierre’s Costumes. I walk past it every evening and its unremarkable façade gives the impression that it’s nothing special. I am wrong. After being greeted by Jennifer Valosen, manager of the store, she shows me the front showroom and the sewing studio just behind it. But it is the room way in the back that makes me drool – a floor to ceiling “closet” that houses all the costumes. And you thought your wardrobe was overflowing?




A Day in the Life of a Seamstress



A Day in the Life of a Seamstress



A Day in the Life of a Seamstress

While interviewing Jennifer, I am equally fascinated and inspired by her story. She was the sewer who said she would never touch a sewing machine after her first project. But, as she put it, sewing found her and she had no choice in the matter. While attending college for communications and public relations, she worked in the school’s costume shop. Instead of pursuing her major after graduation, she followed her passion, working at several theaters before ending up at Pierre’s.




A Day in the Life of a Seamstress

3:00 PM: For as far reaching as the Internet is, it can also be very small. Two years ago, Andrea, a local sewing blogger, moved to Philadelphia, two blocks away from my apartment. Despite our proximity, it has taken us this long to finally meet in real life. Along with Claire, another local sewing blogger, we hit up Café Ole. This java jaunt isn’t your ordinary place to get a caffeine fix. Sunday mornings here are as rowdy and lively as your nights downtown. Over some cups of joe, Claire, Andrea and I talk geeky sewing nonsense like making swimsuits, stretching elastic, grading patterns and more. Unlike in online dating, when bloggers meet up, especially sewing bloggers, it does not turn out to be the worst date ever. Our conversation from start to finish is seamless (pun intended); there are no awkward silences.




A Day in the Life of a Seamstress

5-8:00 PM: With a couple of hours to kill, I head to my haven - Madalynne Studios. At 350 square feet, it is my zen zone. I come here, usually alone, to photograph and to sew. On the third floor, it gets a little stuffy in the summer, so I open the windows. Sitting in front of the breeze, I continue to work on my dress. Unfortunately, I run out of matching thread 30 minutes in, so I switch to another love of mine: bra making. Six years after I started sewing, I delved into this category of sewing as a challenge. The fit, the fabrics and the techniques used to construct a bra are markedly different from garment sewing. Like any challenge I take on, I dove in head first and haven’t come up for breath yet. I’m that hooked. Developing this skill set has even led me to amazing opportunities – teaching an online class in November as well as teaching two in-person workshops this winter. Who would have thunk Miss Maddie would be a teacher?




A Day in the Life of a Seamstress



A Day in the Life of a Seamstress

Listening to the breeze whirl in as I cut a new bra pattern, I can’t help but think how lucky I am. My W2 might not have six figures on it, but if I had to put a number on my quality of life, it would amount to much more.

8:15 PM: Headed back to Chatueu Madalynne (who doesn’t name their house?), I stop by Sassafrass, a local market at the end of my street, to pick up ingredients for a me-made dinner. The menu for tonight is hearty – salmon, a heaping bowl of pasta, a glass of white wine and a side of hand sewing. #Partyrockin.

My life is simple, but I think it’s pretty cool. I could put on some wayfarers or dance around in my undies (me-made of course), but I’d prefer to just sew and consider myself the equivalent of the King of Cool, Steve McQueen – I'm living life as The Queen of Cool.




A Day in the Life of a Seamstress





Maddie Flanigan


Maddie Flanigan is the blogger behind 
Madalynne, the cool pattern making and sewing blog. If Steve McQueen was the “King of Cool,” then Madalynne is the “Queen of Cool.” An educational, informational and inspirational blog, Madalynne provides how-to’s and tutorials on pattern making and all things sewing related. Madalynne also documents the life of Maddie, including her own sewing projects, endeavors and sometimes struggles, so that she can serve as an inspiration to her readers.

Maddie is part of The Opener, an exclusive, invite-only contributor network that will bring the best food, culture, and innovation writing to the pages of Coca-Cola Journey.