When sewing hits the White House…
Perhaps the most famous ‘sewing pattern’ to date belongs to the glorious American flag. Recognized the world over, this piece of art was originally a hand-sewn masterpiece created by Ms. Betsy Ross.
Before I begin, let me state for the record – there seems to be controversy over whether or not Ms. Ross was indeed the first person to sew the American flag. In order to not go down the rabbit hole of who-done-it…we will stick with what the history books record.
Can you image the PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES coming to you with a commission for work?
Well, legend says that is exactly what happened in 1776. Betsy attended church with George Washington, and through that relationship she came to mind when the idea of a flag was born.
General George Washington, Robert Morris and George Ross all visited Ms. Ross, presenting her with a sketch of their vision for the flag. Historians believe it was Mr. Francis Hopkinson, a naval flag designer and signer of the Declaration of Independence, who designed the original stars and stripes sketch. And it was his sketch that was given to Ms. Ross.
During this meeting, she was allegedly presented with a sketch of a flag that featured 13 red and white stripes and 13 six-pointed stars, and was asked if she could create a flag to match the proposed design. Ross agreed, but suggested a couple of changes, including arranging the stars in a circle and reducing the points on each star to five instead of six.
Unfortunately, Betsy Ross’s version is not considered the first ‘official’ united states flag. The official 13-Star Flag looks a lot more like Hopkinson’s version on the left, became the Official United States Flag on June 14th, 1777. It simply had the five-pointed stars Ms. Ross suggested.
But back in 1777, there was no true ‘standard’ for the American flag, as they were not mass produced. The appearance of the flag was truly up to the maker, so long as it had 13 stripes, alternating red & white, with a small blue square in the upper left corner with 13 white stars. The 13-star formation can be found depicted in a multitude of shapes from that time, from arranging the stars into one big star, to a large circle, to rows or initials – it was all entirely up to the maker of the flag.
Sounds a lot more hand-sewn, rather than the mass-produced flags we see today. And dare I say it, a lot more special. As we know, the american flag has seen many changes eventually evolving into the 50-star flag we know it as today. But let’s not forget that there was a time…
A time when an American president visited the home of a seamstress and saw that she had talent. Respected her work, and considered her skill to be of worth and highly valued enough to trust her with the future emblem of the United States of America. A time when a seamstress created the most recognized sewing pattern to date. A time when a seamstress became an American hero.
Ms. Betsy Ross…we salute you.