eye-3-yellow-3d-2-new-logo philly_kyw_new philly_94wip_new 35h_cbssportsrad_philly philly_wpht_new

Local

Philadelphia Continues Centuries-Old Tradition of Hand-Sewn Government Flags

View Comments
(A seamstress works on one of the hand-sewn flags created by the Defense Logistics Agency in Philadelphia.  Photo by Mike DeNardo)

(A seamstress works on one of the hand-sewn flags created by the Defense Logistics Agency in Philadelphia. Photo by Mike DeNardo)

Mike DeNardo Mike DeNardo
Mike DeNardo, a veteran of KYW Newsradio for more than 25 years,...
Read More

Get Breaking News First

Receive News, Politics, and Entertainment Headlines Each Morning.
Sign Up

By Mike DeNardo

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The nation’s presidential and vice presidential flags are embroidered by hand.   And that work is only done in one place:  Philadelphia.

In a nondescript room at the Defense Logistics Agency, in the Lawncrest section of the city, fifteen seamstresses are assigned to hand-embroider US presidential and vice presidential flags, just as it’s been done for 150 years.

It takes two workers 45 days to finish each flag, sewing hand-traced patterns to exacting standards on both sides.

“So, front and back have to be the same,” notes flag room supervisor Hue Nguyen (at right below). “I have to check the back, too. No knot!”

(Supervisors John Fricker and Hue Nguyen display a flag made in the DLA flag room.  Photo by Mike DeNardo)

(Supervisors John Fricker and Hue Nguyen display a flag made in the DLA flag room. Photo by Mike DeNardo)

—-

Fellow supervisor John Fricker (at left above) says the presidential flag, depicting an eagle circled by stars, can be seen in the Oval Office.

“We see that flag also when President Obama is conducting press conferences,” he tells KYW Newsradio.

“I think all the ladies feel the same thing,” says Hue Nguyen. “We are very proud.”

Presidents can change the flag, but the current design has been used since Truman.

(A hand-sewn presidential flag, center, on display at the Defense Logistics Agency.  Photo by Mike DeNardo)

(A hand-sewn presidential flag, center, on display at the Defense Logistics Agency. Photo by Mike DeNardo)

—-

The flag room also produces flags for ROTC programs and the armed forces, although those are made by machine.  Linda Farrell digitizes the stitch counts and color variations before turning on an automated sewing machine that Betsy Ross could have only dreamed about.

“I love this job!” Farrell says.

And Fricker says the heraldry may have now come full circle, as the flag ladies just completed a 13-star Betsy Ross flag for the agency’s headquarters in Virginia.

 

View Comments
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 31,503 other followers