BALTIMORE (WJZ) — History–a stitch at a time. Volunteers take on a big project at Maryland’s Historical Society. They’re recreating the immense flag that inspired the “Star-Spangled Banner.”

Alex DeMetrick shows us.

A hand-sewn replica of the flag that flew over Fort McHenry during the British bombardment in 1814 is taking shape at Maryland’s Historical Society. The original was sewn by just a handful of women in a Baltimore rowhouse.

“So Mary Pickersgill in the summer of 1813 was commissioned by Major General George Armistead, the commander of Fort McHenry, to create this garrison flag,” said Kristin Schenning, Maryland Historical Society.

It took Pickersgill six weeks. Two hundred volunteers are working to do it in the same amount of time. All it takes is 150,000 stitches.

“It’s off the white into the blue, travel about a quarter of an inch and come back up through the white star,” said one volunteer.

The volunteers came with years of quilting and sewing experience. Even so, the project gives participants an appreciation of what it took to make the original Star-Spangled Banner.

“I can’t imagine sewing a flag that’s 30 feet by 42 feet in a rowhouse,” said volunteer Mimi Dietrich.

“And she didn’t have air conditioning. She was really something to have completed this project with her mother, daughter, nieces and indentured servant. Really impressive,” said Dibbi Gundry.

Once the flag is completed, it already has a date to fly.

“We’re going to take it down to Fort McHenry and we’re going to fly it from the flag pole there at the Defender’s Day celebration on Sept. 14,” said Schenning.

They have until next Sunday to tie Mary Pickersgill’s six-week effort.

If you’d like to see the flag and maybe even help add a stitch, there will be a public session at the Maryland Historical Society on Aug. 11.

Alex DeMetrick


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