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At the Damsel’s cottage by the mountains, the Knight erected a flag pole, upon which an American flag waves 24/7. (A light shines on it at nighttime to make that okay.) Except last night, it was so windy, the family decided to bring the flag in.

The Damsel noticed the bottom corner had gotten tattered from snapping in the wind, and fired up her google-fu to find out if it’s kosher to mend a flag. She was surprised to find very little information. She saw plenty of references to the proper way to dispose of a worn-out flag (let the boy scouts or veterans burn it in a special ceremony) but what about mending? Is that okay?

The Damsel actually had to (gasp!) pick up the telephone and call a flag company to find out. It is considered respectful to wash and/or mend a flag when needed.

As you can see this corner is in bad shape. According to the flag company, it’s permissible to trim this off and rehem the flag, although it throws off the balance of stripes vs. stars a tiny bit.

Cut in a straight line, all the way across. Mark the line first if you feel nervous about eyeballing it. Just make the cut so that all the frayed fabric is cut off.

Thread the machine with white thread. Fold over a bit of the cut edge, 1/4″ or so, or a presser-foot-full, and simply sew a straight seam to hem the flag. Once that’s done, you can fold it over once again and sew. It’s not strictly necessary, but you can if you like. Don’t stress. No one is going to be judging your flag hem.

While the Damsel was sewing, a sprog wandered in. “Hey, Betsy Ross!” One is left to suppose that comment is unavoidable if you’re sewing and a flag is spread across your lap.

Oh, and to wash it…you can just put it right in the washing machine, along with a towel or some such just to help make up a load. Flags are made of extremely durable fabric, so a washing machine won’t do it any harm. Or a dryer.

Long may it wave!

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  • What’s a presser-foot-full?

  • damsel

    Chris: sorry–the presser foot is that thingy you clamp down onto the fabric when you sew. If you line up the presser foot with the edge of the fabric and use that as a sewing guide, (like in the picture) you’ll get a 1/4″ seam (or a teeny bit more.)

  • Thank you for sharing this info. I find it extremely helpful.

  • Mom

    Betsy Ross? That brings back a memory. . .haha

  • Good to know! I wonder if my neighbor with the flag poles knows about this…anyway, we host a neighborhood parade each year on the 4th…Maybe you’d enjoy some warm, summer, fun this cold January afternoon? http://beinglds.blogspot.com/2009/07/freedom-to-have-fun.html

  • 1larrymenkes2

    I noticed that the flag was originally stitched with four rows of stitching. How many rows are best for a tattered 7X12 flag?

    • thedamselindisdress

      Hi Larry,

      I can’t see your flag, but I’d think in most cases 2 rows of strong stitching would do the trick.

      Thanks for attending Old School!

      Margot (The Damsel)