A Stitch in Time

In 1813, George Armistead, commander of Fort McHenry, at the mouth of Baltimore Harbor in Maryland, commissioned Baltimore flag maker Mary Pickersgill to make a flag “so large the British will have no difficulty seeing it from a distance.”  Mary and five assistants made a 30′ X  42′ flag in six weeks.  It was the flag that flew over Fort McHenry during the Battle of Baltimore, inspiring the poem that would become the lyrics to the Star Spangled Banner.

Ft. McHenry 038

To commemorate the 200th anniversary of the creation of the flag, the Maryland Historical Society is sewing a flag of the same size, using the same 19th century methods used by Mary Pickersgill, in the same six week period.  Two hundred quilters from around the country have gathered to do most of the work, but visitors to the Society’s museum also are being invited to add a stitch to the flag.

Patricia and I were at the museum today, to see an exhibit on Betsy Patterson Bonaparte, a Baltimorean who married the brother of Napoleon.  It and the museum in general aren’t getting the History Tourist treatment because photos aren’t allowed.  But while we were there, we got to watch the quilters in action.

“You’re welcome to put a stitch in yourselves, if you’d like” said the quilt greeter.

baltimore 050

Oh yes, we’d definitely like.  I didn’t tell her that I failed a 7th grade sewing project that involved making a pillow case (I went to school in the stone age, when girls were required to take Home Economics and boys were required to take Wood Shop).  I, at least, now can hem and sew on buttons.  Patricia hadn’t picked up a needle in 30 years.  But we muddled through.  That’s Patricia making her stitch.

The six weeks end in mid-August and the finished flag will be flown during Defenders Day Weekend this year (September 13-15) and next year.

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2 Responses to A Stitch in Time

  1. Kathie Shattuck says:

    THAT looks like fun! What a neat thing to participate in. Too bad about the Bonaparte exhibit. Wish more would permit photos.

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