John Blalock


The penultimate star

Went out and had a few beers at the local Irish bar so we all woke up late.  Sean made a fire and I sewed on the last two stars.


I was really feeling in the Betsy Ross groove, especially when we made a fire in the wood stove.  I wonder if sunny mornings working on flag orders felt kind of like this in a strange sort of way.


Betsy Ross was not the “society” lady that I had always assumed.  A friend of Washington who came up with this flag idea as a way to dispel the boredom and helplessness felt by a lady unable to do anything else for this cause erupting all around her.  Turns out that is not at all what her life was like.  She was an upholsterer who built her own business and, for a period of time, filled flag orders for the new US government.  She buried three husbands, and a few children too (people seemed to die quite a bit back then) and died nearly broke.

Here’s the actual flag that flew over Fort McHenry and which the Star Spangled Banner was written about.


This one was not made by Betsy but her shop filled orders for as many as a hundred of these garrison flags (which measure 30′ x 40′).

How breathtaking!  You can see the felled seams and reinforcing stitches in the blue–my guess is to keep the flag from ripping?

Here’s the penultimate version of my sad little flag.  I need to adjust the position of that last little star on the bottom left of the 1.



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Skyping while sewing

Rachel works on scenic design while I sew.  We decided to play a mind reading game.  The theme was “grad school words”



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Getting Close…

I have the first 8 stars on, should be done in a few days–then I can start in on the rest of the props for “The Spirit of 21” photo shoot (look for more details soon)


Also some of you may have noticed that I am now under the domain name–don’t worry–the old address will get you here too.

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First things first

Before I start sewing flags I had a little side job.


Fixing a hole in the crotch of seans jeans.  Rachel says its a good patch but it may not hold–the denim has a tendency to pull apart and fray.  She’s probably right, but at least it will keep sean decent for a while.

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The stars at night, are big and bright:

Tested out sewing a star onto a piece of blue


I think it will work fine, only the stars I use will have to be much smaller.  This is 4″ mine will be 2″ however I think they do not need to be hemmed.


They’re sewn on with blue thread so that it does not show through to the other side (because it would be backwards).  I am going to have to resew these stars onto the reverse side–however not right way…

Here’s the layout with the 2″ stars.  These are made out of paper–I think I am going to run into problems cutting the denim this tightly.


Filed under: The Betsy Ross Project

Curses #$%&!

Dang seam allowance!  This was the hardest piece to sew–the reinforcement for the hanging side of the flag.  For some reason the denim would not iron down, my hems kept folding out.  Plus I had to sew both sides together with each stitch, which meant pinning and readjusting every few inches (otherwise you would find out that you had been sewing only one side and have to go back).  And then–after all that I get to the end and I am 1/2″ short (not counting my hem!)!  I must have stretched the flag side out as I was sewing the strip!


Now I am either going to have to make a patch (which I think I will do) or pull the whole thing out (which I think I will not do)


Filed under: The Betsy Ross Project

Star Pattern

Soon I will be cutting out stars and figuring out how to attach them.  Iron on would be best but that would probably go against the spirit of this project.  Here is the rough layout however.


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All the pieces are coming together!

I finished the last stripe–this means I can add the blue field and tie the sections together.  I was afraid of what would happen when I tried to fell the felled seems.  So I cut away part of the seems so the will lay flatter:


Seems to work (haha), its pretty thick, but it works:


Now I just have to fell all the seems and hem the out side and I will be able to start the stars:


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Rough idea of what this flag will look like

I have the stripes done!  Just need to flat fell all the seams.  Next I will sew the blue on and then hem the outside of the flag.  Then finally, the 21 stars (yes this will be a 21 star flag).


Filed under: The Betsy Ross Project

Flag sewing and how it compares to playing super mario brothers



Sewing and the original super mario brothers.

They are both very two dimensional (at least flag sewing), all the work you do, and all the challenges you face are only challenges of height and width.

Screwing up.  In mario to screw up means to throw out all the work you did on that particular level.  I suppose it could mean starting the game over, comprable to choosing the wrong fabric or something like that–but usually it means you must repeat each level over and over.  Much like messing up a seam, I tear it out and repeat exactly the same actions, only this time just a little better.

The bigger boss.  Mario is interesting as a video game because you never get better items (bigger guns, armor, potions, etc).  You must face each new challenge with the same equipment–its only your skill that must improve.  Each level is a little different say its a water level, or a cloud level, or one of those underground levels, these each take a slight variation of ones skill.  Once I am done felling the strips I have to sew the stars (a kind of mini level), then join the strips to the blue, then hem the edges, each a new challenge with this own individualized skills.

If you can’t tell I have been both playing super mario brothers on the ds and sewing this flag at the same time

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