Stitching History

“Mary Pickersgill Making the Flag.” Oil on canvas by R. McGill Mackall, MdHS, 1976.80.61
Maryland Historical Society

Saturday my family and I had the wonderful opportunity to attend the Star Spangled Banner Project at the Maryland Historical Society (MHS) in Baltimore, Maryland. Maryland has the distinct honor of being home to the original Star Spangled Banner flown at Ft. McHenry during the War of 1812 and of being home to Francis Scott Key who penned our National Anthem. In honor of the Flag's upcoming 200th anniversary, the MHS started the Star Spangled Banner Project where they decided to make a reproduction of the original flag that inspired Key to write our anthem. Not only that, but they wanted to complete the replica in the same amount of time it was orginially created by Mary Pickersgill - hand-sewn in 6 weeks! Then, on Defenders Day in September they will be flying the reproduction flag at Ft. McHenry!

To make the flag, MHS used reproduction wool bunting woven by heritage weavers and scores of volunteer master sewers have been busily sewing the flag. The most exciting part is that they had two public sewing days where you could sign up to come and add in your own stitches, which is what we went to participate in yesterday. It was wonderful to see the gigantic pieces of completed flag and to see my 3 and 6 year old kids add in their own stitches (as well as myself and my husband). And to know we will be able to go and see the flag flying with our stitches in it is just so thrilling! It was a once in a lifetime opportunity that we just couldn't pass up!

An interesting thing is that the stars and each stripe are 2 feet tall - which gives you an idea of how big this thing is going to be. The wool bunting was very light and surprisingly cool to the touch. I can't wait to see it waving! (I hope we have good, windy weather!)

The completed parts of the flag laid out on multiple tables. The stars are in the back.

Our son putting in his stitches!

There were a number of sewing stations with volunteers to help and guide you.

After putting in our stitches, we went out into the hall where they had different tables of a few period craft vendors. I got to speak with a very nice woman in Regency clothing who was there with her daughter, also in costume. She works as a chief costumer for a Baltimore arts high school, does costuming for various theatre companies, and volunteers at both Ft. McHenry and the MHS. We had a delightful talk about Regency clothing, where she got her awesome straw bonnet (, what she does for shoes, as most Regency shoes are not very practical!

It was so refreshing and helpful to talk to her as I like doing research, but discussing things with an experienced living, breathing person is so much more fulfilling sometimes!

By the way, I took oodles of pictures of the Regency gowns on exhibit at the MHS which I will put in a separate post. I made some interesting discoveries!


Popular posts from this blog

Wartime Menu Challenge: March Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinners

Things Were So Cheap Back Then!... or were they?

Newsboys' Strike of 1899: 120th Anniversary - The Beginning