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What Is The American Flag Made From?

While the American Flag as a symbol for patriotic democracy hasn’t changed since 1776, the flag’s materials have changed constantly. Today, we judge what material to make a flag with based on where we plan to fly the flag. The materials vary depending on the conditions of the environment. The type of fabric used for an indoor flag will be different from the fabric used to make an outdoor flag.


Flag suppliers are constantly searching for improved fabric that offers more durability for outdoor flags and better resistance to sunlight and weather conditions.


Cotton is used to make flags that won't be out in the sunlight or exposed to harsh weather conditions (i.e., hail, rain, snow, sleet). Outdoor banners typically utilize materials like nylon, which is lighter and more advanced than polyester. Nylon provides better fabric for a flag to catch the wind beautifully.


New fabrics continue to enter the market, so it's safe to assume that the flag will evolve and change as fabric technology advances.

What Were The First American Flags Made From?

Hemp was used to make the first American flags ever distributed. Hemp was frequently used for many purposes back in the late 1700s. Why? Hemp is more durable than cotton. It does not fade as much as other fabrics when exposed to sunlight. At the time, industrial hemp growing was an essential part of agricultural farming. The government encouraged farmers to produce hemp.


Since the American flag needed to be solid and long-lasting, hemp was an ideal fabric to use.

Who Sewed The First American Flag?

Historians and history buffs speculate that the famous tale of Betsy Ross sewing the first American flag is false. Over the years, scholars and historians have concluded that Betsy Ross did not make the first American flag. Despite the falsehood, the story has gained too much popularity throughout history to ever fade away. America loves a good story that highlights powerful women like Betsy, and she will always be in our history books.


There is some speculation that Betsy Ross did not invent the design of our beloved stars and stripes, but Betsy Ross’s tale will likely be told at school for decades to come.

Betsy Ross: What You Thought You Knew

Betsy Ross is a central character when it comes to the American history we learn in elementary school. Let’s get to know her a bit more. Betsy Ross’s full name was Elizabeth Griscom Ross. She is said to have lived at the famous “Betsy Ross House” in Philadelphia, PA. There is actually no concrete evidence that indicates that to be true.


Despite popular belief, there are no documents that mention the story of George Washington visiting Betsy’s house and giving her the order to make the American flag. In the 1870s (about 100 years later), Ross’s grandson recounted the legend, and it went public --without any fact-checking, of course.


In 1776, George Washington journeyed to Philadelphia. During this trip, it’s possible that he met Betsy Ross. It has not been confirmed nor denied.


Ross’s husband died when he was young. She continued to work as an upholsterer even after his death. She repaired uniforms, ammunition, and tents. To this end, it proves that she was a stellar seamstress and could have potentially made the flag.

No matter who created the first American flag, the critical fact is that the first American flag came from hemp fabric. Hemp is a crucial factor in our country's history and can be considered a patriotic symbol.

Modern Flag Technology

Look, feel, performance, durability, and price are factors that contribute to a flag's target purchaser. The material in which a flag is made plays a significant role in its quality.


It is important to note: no two flags are exactly alike. Each flag has its personality in the way it moves and looks. Fabric is a central component of how a flag functions.

These days, flags are produced from nylon, polyester, or cotton. Historically, flags were made from hemp, silk, wool, and linen. Today, the idea of a wool flag may sound pretty strange, but that was the technology available back then. Each fabric has its own set of traits. The type of fabric used determines the thickness, weave, and weight of a flag.

Let's break down the specifics of modern fabrics used to make flags today;

Nylon

Nylon is a synthetic polymer and can be melt-processed into a fiber. In the 1930s, nylon was introduced. It had great success and is used in many common goods today. It may come as a shock, but the first use of nylon was for toothbrush bristles. Later on, nylon made women's stockings (which explained the term “nylons”).


During World War II, they used nylon for parachutes and para-cord. Nylon was utilized for its strong yet lightweight nature. This discovery opened up new doors for the fabric. Not long after this breakthrough, the material was applied to many more products. Today, we use nylon for clothes, tents, seat belts, tarps, rope, nets, and (you guessed it) flags.

Nylon: The Most Popular Material For Flag Making

There are many different methods in which nylon can be manufactured. It can be woven and blended with other fabrics making it an excellent flag-maker option. Companies like Allegiance Flag Supply use nylon to produce their high-quality and made-to-last American flags. At Allegiance Flag Supply, we ensure that every flag has a good base. Our flags use American-sourced, first-run, 200 denier nylon. Our flags are durable enough to withstand harsh elements but lightweight enough to catch in the wind.


If you are looking for a modern American flag for your home or business, check out Allegiance Flag Supply. Our product line offers many different sized banners to suit all of your patriotic needs.

The Values of Nylon:


  • Nylon is more robust than natural fibers.
  • The material dries quickly.
  • It is recyclable.
  • It is hard to tear.
  • It has a lower carbon footprint due to its longevity.


Polyester

Polyester is a synthetic (petroleum-based) material. It was discovered in 1941. Interestingly, its invention was a byproduct of nylon studies.


The modern fabric derives itself from naturally occurring chemicals from plants and synthetic chemicals. While most polys are biodegradable, synthetic polyesters are not, unfortunately. Disappointingly, polyester can take as long as 200 years to decompose. These characteristics are why polyester is plastic-like.

Polyester is melt-spun, just like nylon fabric. The melt-spinning process allows the material to be made into various sizes and shapes for different uses.


Pros Of Polyester:


  • Polyester can be blended with natural fibers.
  • The fabric is easy to wash.
  • The dying process is easy.


Cons Of Polyester:


  • It is heavier than nylon, making it harder to catch a breeze.
  • Polyester is not a natural fiber and takes over 200 years to decompose.
  • It produces toxic fumes when burned (making it dangerous to retire a polyester flag correctly).
  • The fabric is more expensive to produce than other modern fabrics.


Cotton

Cotton is a naturally occurring material, meaning it grows from the earth. It comes from cotton plants in the form of bolls. It is spun into yarn or thread and has been used for thousands of years. Cotton is used to make breathable and soft textiles. Need an example? Pull out almost any T-shirt in your closet to feel the texture. Before synthetic fibers came into existence, most flags were made from cotton.


Cotton is a natural and sustainable fiber. It is soft to the touch and is easy to clean. The fabric retains color well. It’s also a sustainable source of the material. On the other hand, cotton absorbs water easily, which makes it a slow-drying fabric. When cotton undergoes prolonged sun exposure, the sun weakens its fibers. Cotton also wrinkles at the drop of a dime. Take these pros and cons into account when considering your flag needs.

Takeaway

The evolution of fabric has made it easier to produce long-lasting, durable American flags. Nylon and polyester have broken ground when it comes to fabric technology advancement. If you need a stable and lightweight flag for your home or business, Allegiance Flag Supply offers the highest-quality flags at a reasonable price.

Sources:

What is Nylon Fabric? | Fabric Knowledge | Pine Crest Fabrics

What is Hemp Fabric: Properties, How it’s Made and Where | Sewport

A Science Odyssey: People and Discoveries: Nylon is invented | PBS