View Full Version : Sewing a Flag
05-27-2007, 10:16 PM
I am going to be sewing a couple of battle flags for our reenacting unit, and as I have never made a flag before, I was hoping that I could get a few questions answered before I begin.
I know that flags could be made from silk, cotton and wool. My question is what type of these three fabrics were they made from? Do I need to look for a specific weave? Any links to online fabric shops would be great too.
How do the seams on the flags need to be finished? Flat felled seams?
There will also be some words painted on the flag. What sort of paint is period-correct to use?
Thanks in advance! --Miss Victoria
05-28-2007, 05:06 AM
Silk was the material of choice. It flys the best. But, remember that silk is delicate and tears very easily (especially where you paint it). For the purpose of constant use at events I prefer polyester (strong enough to play with it and not have to replace it every year).
The seams are flat felled.
05-28-2007, 07:00 AM
There's enough surviving flags out there to go get a look, whereupon you'll learn the variety of stitches and folds they used.
The flags that are the most fun are the 12-star silk battleflags made in Richmond in the fall of 1861. These were rushed into service in the wake of First Manassas, and were made from dress silk. That didn't come from dresses already made, but from bolts of dress silk in Richmond shops. It is a little sturdier than what most of us expect. It's also not available everywhere. (Silk is just the material. The weave gives it different qualities, the same as cotton or wool. Think of the different between a quality men's spring suit of light wool, how hard and tight it is, and a wool blanket. Silk can also have that range of variation.)
You really would benefit from going to see some originals, of whatever type you're planning, and then trying to figure out what to use to either duplicate the flag precisely (a potentially expensive operation) or replicating its appearance precisely (much more attainable).
05-31-2007, 11:12 AM
Maybe I missed it what type of flag CS or US battle flag. CS I would use wool bunting. www.bentart.com has some.
Tyler AKA pvt dirty
05-31-2007, 11:35 AM
I can help you with some construction details, but you'll have to let us know what flag you are copying. The materials, pattern and construction will change depending on the original artifact you are copying.
Like I said, I'd love to help, just let me know the details.
06-05-2007, 08:55 PM
Thanks for the replies.
I am not copying a particular flag, because there is no documentation of what our unit's flag actually looked like. It is a Texas Confederate cavalry flag, very similar in design to the Stars & Bars.
As much as I would love to examine originials, I really don't think it's an option in my case. The nearest CW museum is about 6 hrs away....
06-05-2007, 10:12 PM
If you are by chance in the Dallas area and can get to the Texas Civil War museum that is a great place to look at the details on original flags. Many of the flags i saw there back in march were of a very thin material (silk i think, dont quote me on it) sewn with around 15 running stitches to the inch, very tight work, but the sitches meandered quite a bit and did not look perfect. The seams I saw appeared to be how you would sew a canvas seam together, with both edged turned under and then 2 lines of stiches run over them (Im terrible at explaining that seam, for a good example find a pair of mens jeans and look at the inseam, thats the way the cloth was folded and sewn, except it was done by hand rather than by machine)
06-07-2007, 11:49 AM
There is also a Civil War museum at Hill County College in Hillsboro. It is on the east side of IH-35 near the outlet mall (south of the mall).
Navaro College in Corsicana has an extensive collection of Civil War items.
06-07-2007, 12:25 PM
Thank you for the information on the museums. I'd love to visit both, but one is 6 hrs away and the other 8 hrs.... But I'll look them up and see if I can't get any further research or contacts.
oh, and that's great info about the seams on the flags. I know exactly what type of seam you are describing.
thanks --Ms Victoria
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