Thursday, July 4, 2013

Stitching History Kicked Off at Fort McHenry Today

This morning Bob and I celebrated our Independence Day at Fort McHenry in Baltimore Maryland.  A group of us (and our family members) who are participating in the "Stitching History" project sponsored by the Maryland Historical Society to recreate the original Star Spangled Banner flag, which inspired the National Anthem were invited to a special early morning tour at the Fort.

We were able to take part in the hoisting of the garrison flag. (That's me in the center holding onto the flag, I'm wearing the polka dot navy sleeveless top.)

The flag we're recreating, like this one is based on the original 30 foot high by 42 foot long flag that was commissioned by Commander George Armistead and made by Mary Pickersgill a Baltimore seamstress and flagmaker 200 years ago this summer during the War of 1812.   It was awesome to see the size of the flag up close and personal. 

 We walked it around to rotate and turn it...

 It was attached to the rope, and hoisted into the morning sky. 

Then it was time for us stitchers to get to work.  There are over 100 of us that are setting out to recreate the Star Spangled Banner, stitching it by hand hopefully within a six week time frame just like Mary Pickersgill did.  Our goal is to have it ready to be flown over Fort McHenry at the Defender's Day Celebration on September 14th, we'll see if we can do it.  Mary did it with the help of her Mother, daughter, three nieces, and a servant (and they made a second smaller Storm Flag at the same time)...but they were experienced flag makers and knew exactly what they were doing.  We're a bunch of quilters, and stitchers who are coming together and working in shifts to piece together the stars and stripes like Mary would have done.

Here we are starting to put the first basting stitches in the strips that will make up the blue canton that the white stars will be on.   We started out stitching at Fort McHenry this morning, and the rest of the flag will be stitched every day at the Maryland Historical Society until August 22nd. 

The fabric is a wool that was woven in Pennsylvania by Family Heirloom Weavers that's light in weight just like the original flag material. 

After working my two hour morning shift stitching, and while other stitchers continued to work shifts into the afternoon, Bob and I left Fort McHenry and drove over towards the Inner Harbor and walked around Little Italy and over to the Star Spangled Banner Flag House & Museum, the original home of Mary Pickersgill, and the site where the actual flag was made.   

It was the perfect day to tour the house and stand in the space where the women worked  200 years ago.

At the Flag House Museum they have this wall depicting the actual size of the flag upright.  Bob snapped my photo with it.  The flag is bigger than the floor plan in Mary Pickersgill's house.  Once they pieced the sections, Mary and the girls had to go over to the loft of a local brewery to be able to lay it out and put it all together...I think to keep things really authentic, we'll have to find us a brewery to celebrate in at the end of our 6 weeks :)

For more wonderful information on the Original Star Spangled Banner that is currently on display at the Smithsonian Museum of American History check out This Link for awesome up close and personal detail photos of the flag.

There will be two Public Days, August 3rd & 11th where anyone can come and put a few stitches into the flag we're making.  Go to This Link for more information and to sign up.  

And check out the Maryland Historical Society's Kickstarter campaign to learn more about the project and see how you can be a part of it. 

Enjoy the day!
~ Dawn


Laura said...

Happy Fourth of July, Dawn! It sounds like you had a great day!

Desertweaver said...

Thanks so much for your account of today's activities. As a Baltimorean for 60+ years now transplanted to Phoenix, AZ, I fondly remember trips to Fort McHenry and the Flag House. I would have loved being a part of your day today. And, I am sorry to miss stitching on the flag. I have been to the Family Heirloom Weavers shop, another fascinating tour. My love of Maryland, its history and sewing are fed today by your comprehensive account. Thanks for taking the time to post this wonderful event.

teachpany said...

Wow!! Thanks for the additional info, and photos!

Pamela said...

What a neat opportunity! I can't wait to hear more about it as it goes!

Pam Geisel - For Quilts Sake said...

We recently visited Washington DC and it was very moving to see the original flag (and the interactive flag) at the Smithsonian. It's interesting to read about the recreation!

Gold For RS said...

Here we are beginning to put the first basting stitching in the pieces that will create up the red canton that the white-colored celebrities will be on. We began out sewing at Citadel McHenry today, and the relax of the banner will be padded every day at the Doctor Traditional Community until Aug 22.

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Weedy said...

I've had the opportunity to visit Baltimore several times and greatly enjoy the Inner Harbor (and the good food). Alas, I never visited Fort McHenry and the Flag House. There's never enough time to see everything when you are a tourist. Thanks for sharing.