Who makes sewn or embroidered US historical flags?

Discussion in 'Flag Identification and Collecting' started by Kimo, Apr 22, 2012.

  1. Kimo

    Kimo New Member

    A couple of years ago I bought a really nice 15 star/15 stripe Ft. McHenry flag - nylon with appliqued stars and sewn stripes and I have been enjoying flying it on holidays (made by Annin). That has me thinking that I might like to acquire more historical US flags to fly. I am thinking of either a Continental or Bunker Hill (yes I know the controversy of Bunker Hill flags) since my ancestor was a Minute Man from Roxbury who was in the first few days of the fighting, but so far my searching has resulted in finding only dyed or printed flags. I would really like a nice quality nylon flag with either sewn, appliqued or embroidered features (pine tree on the Continental, or Pine tree and cross on the Bunker Hill) in the canton. I checked Annin and they do not make the higher quality sewn/appliqued/embroidered styles. Does anyone know of any companies that actually make such quality flags these days, or are they all only dyed or printed versions?

    Many thanks!
  2. csaanv

    csaanv Member

    Hi Kimo,
    I am afraid the tread lately has been the major flagmakers in the US and UK are moving away from sewn, appliqued flags to the dyed, printed flags. It is not that they are not making any profit but they are not making enough profit to make it worth their trouble. It is a real shame. Before too long the art of real flagmaking is going to be a thing of the past. Here is a link to a company who makes historical flags which are pretty accurate but can be pricey.

    Piedmont Flag Company
  3. Kimo

    Kimo New Member

    Thanks, Mike. I agree that it is a real shame that flag makers are going the route of making printed flags rather than what in my mind are real ones that are made traditionally. At least you can still buy an American flag that is honestly made with sewn stripes and either embroidered or appliqued stars. And yet, if they can do that and make money it seems to me that they should be able to do it with other flags. I always prefer to buy American made things, but I would even consider a foreign made one if they did it right. I can understand that some flags with really detailed, almost painting-like designs, need to be done by printing, but simple designs like the ones I am talking about should be no big deal. For example, a Continental flag is just one big red field with a plain white canton and a single stylized pine tree which should only take a few minutes for an expert flag maker to cut out a few pieces of nylon and sew them together by insetting a white canton and appliqueing a cut out pine tree. It could be even cheaper to use one of those computerized embroidery machines you see at the malls embroidering any design you like in 5 minutes on hats and jackets and such. Or there are companies that will sell you embroidered patches in many colors and very complex designs for a few dollars per patch. Surely they could be contracted to do such embroidery on a large piece of nylon and the flag maker could simply applique that onto a flag. In my mind it does not add up.
  4. coasterville

    coasterville Member

    Maybe they can still make "real" American flags because of the volume. The other patterns, outside of flag collectors and history buffs prbably have limited appeal.

    Or at least not enough appeal to justify switching a line over from, say making American flags to making a dozen Continental flags. With the fancy print/dye machinery they use, it may be a simple as changing a setting on the control panel before loading the machine with a bolt of nylon.

    I read a newsletter by Annin once that said they would still make simple designs in all sewed versions, but most of their international and state flags would be printed. I know there a couple UK based flagmakers that still offer sewn flags, at prices that will make you cringe. (and that's before getting it shipped over the pond, converting dollars to pounds, etc)

    Those who have read some of my other postings know I prefer sewn/embroidered flag designs when possible. For example, my Gadsden flag has am emboridered pattern, and I searched long and hard for a all sewn/emboridered State of Ohio flag. I managed to get a Hungarian flag in Hungary that has sewn panels, however the crest artwork in the center is print/dyw, then again it is pretty ornate. I've also managed to score a few other world flags in sewn varations.

    To me a sewn flag feels more "real", though I have heard the arguments for all printed, namely they look better in bright sunglight, and have less failure points, if you consider that each panel can (and have) come apart.

    Chalk it up to antoher industry where "craft" is nodding in defeat to automation.

    Annin does make some of the more popular historical patterns (Bennington, Betsy Ross, Star Spangled Banner) in sewn/embroidered models, and they have a vintage Star Spangled Banner that has "old time aplique stars" Their grand union is a hybrid with sewn stripes , but the Kings Colors design in the canton is printed/dyed.

    But this isn't all new, I have, what appears to be a fairly old looking 48 star flag (Valley Forge) where the stripes are sewn, and the star field is printed.

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