It was nearly 4 years ago when we found ourselves in a forgotten stairwell in the back of the Museum of Natural History in New York City, completely fixated on a little frame preserving the last fibers of an American flag. We had to have spent a good 20 minutes, at least, just taking it all in. A flag, shredded to strands with a few stars and stripes still woven in place; faded in color, but certainly not in glory. It was one of the last flags brought to battle during the civil war-- the life these fibers witnessed, the bravery this flag raised above, the pride and freedoms for which this tattered piece so beautifully represents, both then and today.
My brother and I just stood there in awe, completely speechless.
Never have I ever been so moved by a piece of art. Never before has anything ever stuck with me as much as that moment in the stairwell, with my brother beside me and history before us.
Carefully laying each star into place
The American flag has always been something so beautiful to me. The vibrant colors and bold stripes, the union of stars that forever wave with grace, but what moved me ever more, were the hands behind the creation of each flag. As a seamstress myself, I understand all that goes into the process of an individual piece- the choice in textiles and the creation of dyes- I understand how much love is woven into every stitch, and the prayers sealed with every knotted thread.
A flag is more than just a flag, it is the soul of a population sheltered in unison beneath a blanket of bravery.
I quickly began studying the women behind the creations of these flags. I began researching different dye techniques and sewing skills shared in the day. Because these flags weren't just made of cotton perfectly dyed in reds and blues bought at the nearest store, but rather, they were fibers, hand-spun and then woven accordingly, soaked in varying temperatures of water, and then submerged in baths of gathered ingredients muddled together.
There was sweat and intention put into every single detail of these flags.
Before I knew it, I was gathering these same ingredients and testing out various batches of recipes for the perfect red and sky of blue in my tiny ( thats being kind- excruciatingly small ) kitchen in manhattan. I was crushing up bugs and muddling berries, in pots at exactly the right temperature-- testing batch -after- batch of dyes. I finally came up with a recipe I loved, true to myself and more importantly- true to the leading ladies many lifetimes before.
What I thought would simply be a weekends project, proved to be one much bigger than myself. It consisted of integrity, compassion, history, connection, frustration and honestly a whirlwind of emotion. I had decided that this flag I was to create, would make the perfect gift for my brother. He was to be graduating from Basics Training as an Officer in the Marine Corps. in the coming months. I knew that if anyone was to receive so much thought, history, intent, and love in a single gift - it was him. After all, it was with him that inspiration for such a piece was awakened.
Memorial Day was fast approaching us, as was my brothers graduation.
I had documented the entire process on Instagram. The numerous batches of dyes, the assembly of stars, the bold stripes. All of it. Never anticipating an audience, or furthermore a response to this endeavour. My Instagram acts as a personal journal of sorts, and this was my bound recording of the entire process.
Before I had even completed my first flag, my inbox was flooded with inquiries-- something I was not anticipating. Everyone wanted a piece of this new-found history.
I have been so honored to participate in numerous lives throughout the country. Connecting with individuals nationwide and hearing their stories, their sacrifices, and their accomplishments.
The original flag resides with my brother, others in homes of proud patriots, and family members of our brave men and women in service, both active and reserve. Some flags act as a reminder, while others a beacon of hope for a safe return home. I've even had the joy in honoring new American citizens with a handmade flag embroidered with their date of citizenship ( pictured above). These flags are often framed above mantles, or overhead the dinner table. They embrace the rooms of gathering.
No two flags are ever the same, though I will say, the amount of heart sewn into their delicate fibers will never alter.
Being a bridal designer, and working primarily with the whitest of whites, this is a work of art that I reserve specifically for the summer months where dyeing can take place outdoors, not to transfer onto any gowns in the studio.
Each flag takes an accumulated 4-6 weeks time of prodcution. I make a strong point in obeying all rules of respect for our flag, and each piece is handled with care.
Making these flags is truly one of the greatest honors. It allows me to personally connect with this country in a way very few are able. I feel the power of peace and the pride of the hands that prayed for every one of our brave then, today, and all of our tomorrows. Betsy Ross, Mary Pigerskill, and the countless hands that volunteered beside them to stitch the flags leading to freedom; I am proud to be a part of this lineage of women.
Waves of Grace
Due to the high demand of these flags and my very limited time I am able to take away from sewing brides in their gowns, I have to limit my orders to 10 flags a season. Once I cap the seasons orders, I will then start a waiting list for flags I can accomplish throughout the year.
In observance of Memorial Day and in honor of all those who gave us this freedom, I would like to officially announce that 'Americana' Season is now open. Your opportunity for ordering flags runs from Memorial Day each year through July 4th. Orders along with your customizing options are all available online. Feel free to email me directly with any questions you may have.
Each flag is 3.5' x 5', priced at $405.90 (+ tax & shipping) , staying true to history, that is the exact payment Mary Pigerskill received for hand-sewing the original Star Spangled Banner.
* Due to delicate fabrications, these flags are not intended for outdoor use.
* Dyes may transfer
* *Option to make a donation with your flag purchase to Veterans is available, please email me for details.
I'd like to end with a thank you to all of the brave men & women who have dedicated their lives to protecting our freedoms. No words will ever be enough to show my deepest, most sincerest gratitude. May God forever bless you and our America.
These flags are all thanks to adventures with my brother in forgotten stairwells of NYC.
Here we are together on an adventure at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C., searching for more incredible artifacts