Behind the Seams: Our Storyteller Scarves

True story: Everyone at Madewell (including us) was collectively swept away when they first laid eyes on this season’s hands-down most amazing accessory series, our Storyteller Scarves. Their color and graphic quality were like nothing we’d seen—so obviously, we had to know more. Luckily, the talented lady behind these handmade designs—our accessories guru, Nichole—was literally a hop, skip and a step away. Below, she lets us in on her inspiration and process (hint: it involves lots of glue).

1. How Nichole likes to wear hers 2. The Penpal Storyteller Scarf 3. The Mapmaker Storyteller Scarf 4. The Mapscape Storyteller Scarf

What inspired the idea for this series?

I had been collecting a lot of images of antique quilts as inspiration for peculiar colorblocking arrangements and also wanted to work with vintage maps in some way. I found this funny old atlas that had a fascinating assortment of maps in great colors. After looking at all this imagery, the ideas kind of combined themselves!

Where did you find the scraps in your sketchbook?

Our accessories design team just took a trip around the corner from the office to NYC’s legendary bookstore, the Strand, and found so many great things: an atlas of the universe, ’70s and ’80s photography magazines and a huge catalog of the history of American textiles. My favorite find was a book from 1971 depicting ghost towns of the west.

How do you personally like to wear the scarves?

I’ve been wearing them with a huge old sweater of my Dad’s—its classic sailor stripes are perfect for adding something quirky. I also hang them on my walls!

What was your favorite part of making them?

They were so much fun to design. I love projects that involve hands-on art time—I was covered in glue and map scraps for days! There’s something about assembling these by hand that makes them feel more special than digitally collaged images.


A snippet of Nichole’s sketchbook page with inspiration for our Storyteller Scarves.