Thursday, June 21, 2012


Hi, my name is Maddie Flanigan and I am the blogger behind Madalynne. It's a cool pattern making and sewing blog that covers everything from how to draft a sloper to interviews with designers and what purchases are on my mind. By day, I work in technical design for a very large fashion company in Philadelphia. I consider myself one lucky gal to be able to do what I love every day, not to mention I receive a stellar discount off some really fancy clothes. But it is the knowledge my day job has given me that I’m truly thankful for. If it weren’t for my day job, I would not have learned all the valuable pattern making and sewing tips and industry secrets. Examining and evaluating garments and the patterns that go with each, as well with dealing with wash care, label placement, and packing, I have been able to create tutorials that relay information not known to many in simple and easy terms and illustrations.

I was ecstatic when Savannah asked me to participate in her 5 Things feature. I have been an admirer of her puritan, but cool ways, as well as her blog and its marvelous design and writing. But what 5 things would I talk about? I had no idea. Then, I decided to write about a topic that I have recently had experience with – burnouts. We all have experienced a burnout at some point. It’s when we work too hard - nights, mornings, weekends, and sometimes subconsciously in our sleep - and our minds and bodies just can’t take it anymore. The to-do list might be endless, but we literally can’t handle one more task. We shut down. At this point, a spoonful of relaxation, recharging, and Julie Andrews singing her infamous song from Mary Poppins, is the only remedy. Fortunately, there are ways to prevent reaching this point. Through trial and error, I have found 5 things, which I share with you today, that help me keep my mind sane even if the world around it is not.

1. Break projects into little tasks. ---> This is an obvious tip, but an essential one. Almost all of my projects cannot be completed in a day. Whether it is a sewing, pattern making, or blogging project, all take time to complete. Last year, I made a dress to wear to my dad’s wedding. It was an intricate dress that had boning, batting, lining, and interlining. The pattern alone took a month to correct and the entire project took four months to complete. It was a lot of work but I was able to complete it efficiently and sans a panic attack by breaking the project into mini tasks. On Monday, I cut the fabric. On Tuesday, I transferred notches and other markings from the pattern to the cut pieces. On Wednesday, I staystitched and interfaced each pattern piece. On Thursday, I sewed easy seams. On Friday, I pressed. Each one of these little steps prepped me for major tasks that I planned for the weekend (when I had more time). By breaking the project into smaller tasks that could be completed in 30 minutes, the project progressed seamlessly (pun intended).

2. Break. ---> This is another obvious tip, but also an essential one. We all need breaks. We cannot keep going and going and going. Over the past three months, I have worked straight through the weekend, blogging and sewing into the wee hours of the mornings and nights. Although I was having fun, it finally got to me. When the weather started to get warmer, I struggled to muster up enough energy to sew or blog.  I resisted for awhile, but I eventually had to satisfy my craving and venture out. So one weekend, I did something completely out of character - I went hiking! I didn’t know what to wear or what to bring; I just knew I wanted to go hiking. And I had the best time! I spent an hour or so sitting by the river, just watching the world go by. The smell of fresh air, the colors of the landscape, and the slight breeze recharged my brain way past one hundred percent. My creativity and energy the following day were at levels they hadn’t been for weeks.    

3. Music and silence. ---> Music and silence save my sanity, even though both are completely different (music is sound and silence is the absence of sound). When I’m down and in the trenches of a project or when I hit that midday brain fart at work, listening to music puts me in the zone and keeps me going and going and going. Music also cleanses me of feelings of anxiety, nervousness, or even the blues.  Maybe it’s the melody, maybe it’s the beat, or maybe it’s the voices of the singers but something about music releases whatever is pent up inside me. Far, far away my thoughts and worries go whenever the likes of Kings of Leon, The Black Keys, The XX, Louis Armstrong, Frank Sinatra, and Lil Wayne start playing.

Along with music, silence also keeps me sane. We all live in a chaotic world that seems broken at most times. Between work, hobbies, friends, boyfriends, family, chores, etc., our lives just seem like too much. Silence, for me, puts the broken pieces back together. The peacefulness of no sound brings order back to my mind and refuels for whatever is next. I often spend Saturday or Sunday mornings dilly-dallying around my apartment to the sound of nothing.

4. Notebook. ---> The reason I feel anxious or nervous most of the time is because I have too much to do and I don’t know where to start. This is where my notebook comes in. I carry my notebook around with me almost everywhere. Seriously. Whenever I have a thought, idea, or task, I jot it down in my notebook. If it is a task, I look at my calendar and figure out the best time that it can be completed. I also use my notebook to break larger tasks into little ones (like I did for the dress I made for my dad’s wedding). Doing this does the same thing as silence – it brings order and structure to my life.

5. Mentality. ---> An extremist mentality will most certainly lead to a burnout. We can’t do it all and we can’t achieve it all. Being okay with just being okay is okay (sorry for the redundancy). I would love for my blog to reach the status of Elsie Flannigan’s, A Beautiful Mess (we have the same last name!) but if Madalynne doesn’t reach that level, I am okay with that. What’s most important is that I’m having fun, helping others, and meeting others with similar likes and hobbies. As long as I achieve those three things, I consider Madalynne and myself successful.

If all my above suggestions fail, watch Grace Kelly in the movie "High Society". Watching her and Frank Sinatra gallivanting through the plot, climax, and eventual resolution prevents and cures all and every case of burnout. 

Find Maddie Here:  Blog  |  Facebook  |  Instagram

Thank you, Maddie, for sharing such awesome advice on preventing burnout. It's awesome to do what you are passionate about and truly love, but you have to give yourself time to rejuvenate and refresh so you can keep doing what you love. Great tips!! 


  1. Anonymous21.6.12

    Thank you Savannah for featuring me! It was a pleasure writing this post and I hope your readers find it useful.

  2. Anonymous21.6.12

    Such great tips, Maddie! I try to keep #1 in mind everyday. It's easy to burnout when you feel overwhelmed but taking life one step at a time can help to ease this.

  3. great tips, Maddie! I definitely need to work on #5. Can't wait to check out your blog!

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