Sunday, March 20, 2016

Battle of Hampton Roads Weekend - The Flag

The first weekend of March was my first Civil War costuming event - the Battle of Hampton Roads weekend at the Mariners' Museum in Newport News, Virginia.  I was invited to participate in the re-creation of an antique flag in the museum's collection, to be presented to Abraham Lincoln on Sunday afternoon.  It was a very cool project to be a part of! 

Clockwise from left:  Melissa, volunteer whose name I do not know, Joyce, Nikki, and me
There was a small, core group of us who worked on the flag continuously over Saturday and Sunday, with several more volunteers stopping by and helping out for a few hours at a time.  Most of the ladies you will see in historical dress are my former co-workers at the Costume Design Center at Colonial Williamsburg, which is how I found out about this project.  It was fun to reunite with them for the weekend. 

We pinned the stripes together in numerical order, with the raw edges pre-pressed under on one side and over on the other to create flat-felled seams: 

Each seam then had to be sewn twice - once along the folded edge of the red stripe, and again along the folded edge of the white stripe on the opposite side. 

The flag we were re-producing is 74 1/4" by 144", which is a very large flag!  It was slightly disheartening to get to the end of one of those long seams and realize that it needed to be sewn again.  :p   And I only worked on the shorter stripes!

Nikki sewing away on stripes

Joyce appliquéing the stars on the canton
Lauren, one of the museum coordinators, was kind enough to send me some photos of the original flag:

Lauren with the 34-star flag
Lauren and Melissa examining the delicate piece of history
It was made of wool bunting with cotton stars.
Taking careful measurements

These photos, among others, played on a slideshow next to us while we worked.  It was very cool to see what we were re-creating. 

Thank you to my wonderful husband, Brian the Engineer, for taking all of the photos of me on Saturday!  

On Sunday we had even more volunteers helping out:

Nikki showing a volunteer how to pin the stars in place
Melissa and a volunteer sewing stripes
Samantha and Melissa sewing stripes
More volunteers sewing stripes!
Lots and lots of stripes
Here you can see the screen with the slideshow of original flag images playing on a loop.
Samantha pressing under the edges of the stars

Carlie, another former co-worker of mine, stopped by to help out for a little while
Finally it was time to start attaching the stripes to the canton! 

Melissa pinning away

Once the pieces were attached, we took a short break for a photo op with President Lincoln:

And eventually it came down to lots of people sewing stars at the same time: 

Which got a little cozy: 

Maybe a little crowded.

Thank you to the kind volunteer who took these photos on my camera for me!

At 2:00 on Sunday we were to present the flag to President Lincoln.  Before we knew it, it was time to fold up the flag for the presentation.

(Did I mention this thing is huge?)
Melissa and Joyce folding


Lauren gave a brief introduction before Lincoln spoke:

Left to right:  Samantha, Joyce, Melissa, Nikki, me, Lauren
Lincoln accepting the flag
And thanking us for our work
He then gave a speech to the assembled public:

We listened intently:

And then posed for (about a thousand) more photographs:

Another kind volunteer took these on my camera for me.
I have more pictures of my Facebook page, as well.  And soon I'll do a post on other aspects of the weekend.  This post is long enough already.  :p  

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