Welcome to Fashion Friday, where an item or aspect of fashion in history is featured. It’s typically a shorter post than the rest of the week. After all, we all have to get ready for the weekend, don’t we? Especially this three-day weekend, when we celebrate the beginnings of America’s independence.
So in the Fourth of July spirit, let’s take a look at America’s seamstress:
She didn’t wear the flag, of course, but I’m exercising a little leeway in honor of the holiday.
Interesting facts about Betsy Ross and the creation of the first flag:
- Betsy grew up in a large family: she was the 8th of 17 children.
- In her teen years, Betsy was apprenticed to an upholsterer, and that’s the business she worked in the rest of her life, starting her own shop with her first husband, John Ross. An upholsterer in those times entailed much more sewing jobs than just furniture, including flags and garments.
- In May 1776, the now-widowed Betsy was visited in her home by a secret committee from the Continental Congress: George Washington (then head of the Continental Army), Robert Morris, and George Ross, the uncle to Betsy’s late husband. Washington already knew the widow; she had embroidered ruffles on his shirts in the past, and their pews at Christ Church were right next to each other. Along with her skill, she was the natural choice for making the first flag.
- The original sketch Washington showed her was of 6-pointed stars, but Betsy proposed using 5-pointed. They thought 5-pointed stars were too hard to make, but she showed them otherwise, by making a 5-pointed star with a single snip of her scissors. Want to learn how? Click here.
- Up until this time, each colony had its own flag, and the founding fathers knew the value of a unifying symbol.
- Betsy was married three times. Her first two husbands were killed as a result of the war.
- In the winter of 1777 (well after Betsy had finished the flag and the Continental Congress had passed the Declaration of Independence), British soldiers forcibly occupied her home during the time their army had possession of Philadelphia. This was the same brutal winter the Continental Army was spending in Valley Forge.
- Betsy lived to be 84 years old, and had 7 children, 5 of whom survived into adulthood.
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So what’s your favorite way to celebrate the Fourth of July? I’d love to hear from you. Enjoy your weekend!
Until next time,