Quilters aid in historic flag
restoration to complete display for Lincoln’s Birthday
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[February 13, 2021]
The 161 year journey of an historic Abraham Lincoln related flag is
almost at its end. The flag’s origin was in Middletown, Illinois. In
1860, members of the community sewing group created the wool flag
that was draped over the shoulders of Abraham Lincoln in a parade in
The Lincoln Heritage Museum (LHM) on the campus of Lincoln College,
has overseen in detail the flag’s restoration, chosen a place of
honor and had a proper case created for its display.
Now in 2021, the flag can be seen in all its original form and
glory. This unique exhibit opened on February 12th in honor our 16th
President, Abraham Lincoln's birthday.
Backing up a bit, this treasure was tucked away for over a century
and then was donated to the Lincoln Heritage Museum.
As we continue down the arc of the flag's life, it was in a
deteriorated condition when received by LHM, requiring restoration
before it could be displayed. Funds were raised throughout Logan
County, and it was sent to Indianapolis for restoration.
The plans to display it continued with a spectacular case built by
local wood worker Jason Hoffman.
The only task that remained was attaching the flag to a foam core
covered by a special cloth. That undertaking was done on Wednesday,
Members of a local quilting group “Quilters at Heart” volunteered to
bring their exceptional sewing skills to the LHM to undertake sewing
the flag to a foam core that would then be placed in the display
case just in time for the opening of the new exhibit.
“Quilters at Heart” began in 1982. The group is dedicated to the art
of creating quilts. They are all excellent at what they do. The
quilts they create are not just for themselves, but are gifts for
family members. They are all works of art.
The group has a history of donating their creations to worthy causes
such as veterans groups and Head Start. The quilts are also donated
to local funeral homes to serve as “passage quilts” to comfort
family members of the departed.
Interim Director of the Lincoln Heritage Museum Olivia Partlow
contacted Heather Barrick of Indigo Quilt Studio in Lincoln to
inquire if she or some of the quilters she knows would be interested
in sewing the flag to the foam core as the last step of creating the
flag display. Heather put Olivia in contact with “Quilters at Heart”
and they quickly volunteered to undertake the task.
Wednesday morning Jenna Michalsen, Pam Schreiner, Andrea Tibbs,
Carla Ackerman, Nancy Robbins, Margie Sheley, and Maggie Knollenberg
arrived at the museum ready to sew.
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The group discussed the flag and how they intended to proceed. They
brought years of exceptional sewing skills to the task at hand.
After some back and forth, the group decided what needles to use,
the thread color and width, and most importantly the type of stitch.
When all of that was worked out, they sat down and began the
process. A whip stitch was used.
The flag had been attached to a handling edge specifically added by
the restoration company in Indianapolis. This insured that at no
time was the flag touched by hands or needle and thread. The sewing
group also wore gloves so that no one inadvertently touched the
flag. Best museum practices were adhered to so that the flag was
isolated from the sewing process.
The crew sewed a continuous stitch along the top of the handling
edge, along the side, and at the bottom. The flag was now firmly in
place on the foam core.
When the flag is placed in display case created by Jason Hoffman of
Hoffman Design Studios, none of the stitches will be visible.
The whole sewing process took a few hours. As the work progressed,
the seven women kept up a running commentary about what they were
doing. “We get into a rhythm when we work on a quilt, and a
conversation goes on to pass the time,” said Andrea. One wonderful
note is that Andrea Tibbs lives a stone’s throw from Middletown, so
the final step in the process of restoring the flag was done by a
seamstress from the community that created it. The flag has come
The final step taken on Feb. 11, was to place the completed flag
assembly into its custom display case before its debut in the
Lincoln Heritage Museum on Abraham Lincoln’s birthday, February 12.