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Event Spotlight

Stitching History


Sure, I can sew a button on a shirt, and fix a torn hem on my sewing machine. But I haven’t created anything with just a needle and thread since I made an apron for my Cabbage Patch kid, Matilda, when I was 7.

And yet, the Maryland Historical Society actually welcomed me when I volunteered to help sew a gigantic American flag – re-creating the process employed by Mary Pickersgill when she made the original “Star-Spangled Banner”.   Two hundred years ago, Mrs. Pickersgill had five or six women over six weeks helping with the job, using a borrowed loft space in downtown Baltimore to lay out the massive 30’ x 42’ flag. Now, two hundred experienced quilters and craft guild members are gathering to get the job done in the same six-week timeframe. 

The finished flag will be flown at Fort McHenry for the 199th celebration of the Battle of Baltimore on September 14. 

They are using wool fabric (like Mary), woven in the U.S. (unlike Mary) and hand-stitched sewing techniques. The fabric is very lightweight – good for loft and ability to blow in a breeze. While the techniques are straight forward, it didn't stop me from being a little nervous and slow. I wanted each stitch to be perfect (and that didn't happen).  It is comforting to know that there are experts involved who can remedy any errors.

You can help with this thoroughly American public art project. There are two public sewing days:  August 3 and August 11.

Get the details at, watch the video that WBAL broadcast, and call 410-685-3750. And go make history!

Kate Marks Hardy

Kate is a visual information specialist at the National Park Service Chesapeake Bay office in Annapolis.

July 23, 2013

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