During the twenty years we have been in business, one of the most common questions we are asked is whether a flag can be repaired. The answer to this question is not always as easy as a yes or no. It not only depends on how badly the flag is torn, but also on the condition of the fabric. If your flag is less than a year old and it is not shredded too much the answer is almost always yes.
Below are the steps we use to determine if a flag is repairable.
Lay the flag on a flat surface. Grab the edge of the flag with the white heading and fold the flag along the edge of the star field and the stripes.
(See Figure 1)
Cut away or cover up the torn area. You must have approximately 5” of undamaged stripes left extending out from under your fold. This will leave you enough fabric to roll a new hem.
(See Figure 2)
Hem the flag and check it again to make sure the stripes extend beyond the star field.
(See Figure 3)
If at this point the stripes are not longer than the star field the flag should no longer be flown. It is now a square and no longer represents the proper proportions of the U.S. flag. If it is a square, it is time to retire your flag.
Logo/custom flags can also be repaired as long as the frayed area is not too close to the logo. You will again need at least 5” of good fabric beyond the logo to do a repair.
Wind, ice, rain, and sun take their toll on the material of a flag. Over time the fabric can become thin and even though there may be enough material left to do the repair, the stitching on the new hem will not hold in the soft, thin fabric. Therefore the repair may only last for a few days or weeks. If the fabric is extremely faded or if you can easily tear the end where it is frayed, you should consider replacing the flag.
Tina Pluster is co-owner of Flag Center, Wauwatosa, WI www.flagcenter.net. She has been active in the flag and flagpole industry for over twenty years and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.