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BIF
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Change in Plans - I would like to *Replace* my faded American Flag

Wed Apr 24, 2019 8:13 pm

Plans have changed for this project. See my post below for details. Thank you!

I have an open weave nylon (I think) US flag on a flagpole attached to my front porch. It gets the afternoon and summertime-evening sun and has gotten faded over the years. Actually, only the red bars have faded. The whites and blues still look great. They might need some gentle cleaning, but beyond that, there's very little actual evident wear to the seams and hems.

I can certainly afford to replace this flag, but for this project, I want to resist our throw-away society, and to some extent my own predilections. I'm also kind of partial to this particular flag; it has become my buddy over the years.

It has a solid blue field (not open weave) with nicely embroidered white stars. The red and white stripes are open weave, probably a nylon of some sort. It is designed to be an all-weather flag and it has stood guard well for some years now. The red bars have all faded over the years on both sides and that's the only thing that is really wrong, at least through my rose-colored glasses. :)

Is there a safe way to bring the reds back to their intended brilliance, to clean the rest of it, and to completely re-UV protect this flag going forward? Budget is flexible for this project and suggestions are welcome.
Last edited by BIF on Sat Apr 27, 2019 11:12 am, edited 1 time in total.
 
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Re: I would like to refresh my faded American Flag

Wed Apr 24, 2019 8:34 pm

I have never worked with it, but I think you want a synthetic fabric dye such as Rit. Existing surface treatments (if any) may interfere with dye absorption, and even with masking, I'm not sure how to avoid a bleeding edge between the reds and whites.
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Re: I would like to refresh my faded American Flag

Wed Apr 24, 2019 8:48 pm

Yeah, that's my concern. The stripes are hemmed together in an overlapping fashion. I fear that I'd have to completely disassemble the flag, treat the individual parts, then sew it all back together again.

I'm capable of many things, but I'm not a seamster. Betsy Ross was an unsung hero, I think!
 
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Re: I would like to refresh my faded American Flag

Wed Apr 24, 2019 8:50 pm

You could do it more easily with an inexpensive sewing machine. It's time consuming, but not difficult. I want to see progress pics!
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Re: I would like to refresh my faded American Flag

Wed Apr 24, 2019 9:23 pm

From what I'm googling, dying nylon is easy. Dying nylon while protecting other colors...not so much. It does seem like disassembly/reassembly is the best restoration route.

However, if you're willing to replace what you're hanging outside, you could try a reuse project. I saw one where a flag was mounted in antique window frames that would look very nice in a home, and that's something where a little fading just adds character. Or if the blue is still good, you could fold the flag and put it in a smaller window (with the stars facing out).

If you find another way to restore the red, good luck, but if that doesn't seem to be an option, consider other ways of keeping the flag around. It's hard to go wrong with a flag as decoration.
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Re: I would like to refresh my faded American Flag

Wed Apr 24, 2019 11:34 pm

FireGryphon wrote:
You could do it more easily with an inexpensive sewing machine. It's time consuming, but not difficult. I want to see progress pics!
You make a great point, actually. I've seen some of the sewing machines out there. They're programmable; almost like a textile-version of a 3D printer or a CNC machine! And I've always thought it would be cool to make my own shirt. I don't know why, of course. Maybe there's a latent prepper in me trying to bust out. Next I'll be fishing and hunting for my own food. :lol:

superjawes wrote:
From what I'm googling, dying nylon is easy. Dying nylon while protecting other colors...not so much. It does seem like disassembly/reassembly is the best restoration route.

However, if you're willing to replace what you're hanging outside, you could try a reuse project. I saw one where a flag was mounted in antique window frames that would look very nice in a home, and that's something where a little fading just adds character. Or if the blue is still good, you could fold the flag and put it in a smaller window (with the stars facing out).

If you find another way to restore the red, good luck, but if that doesn't seem to be an option, consider other ways of keeping the flag around. It's hard to go wrong with a flag as decoration.
It would look great in a traditional "triangle fold", for sure. But I'd kind of like to fly it.

I'll research sewing machines. This may be a worthwhile skill to pick up.
 
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Re: I would like to refresh my faded American Flag

Thu Apr 25, 2019 1:16 am

Restoring it to your proper flag is going to require a lot of disassembly and rearranging:

Image
 
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Re: I would like to refresh my faded American Flag

Thu Apr 25, 2019 3:44 am

You might try a red Sharpie. I use a silver Sharpie to put the numbers on my black Rubbermaid mailbox. It usually needs a fresh coat every other year or so, but it lasts surprisingly well and it's on the west side of the mailbox.
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Re: I would like to refresh my faded American Flag

Thu Apr 25, 2019 5:48 am

NTMBK wrote:
Restoring it to your proper flag is going to require a lot of disassembly and rearranging:

Image


With Nicola Sturgeon promising another independence referendum within two years as a way to avoid Brexit fallout, Scotland will probably leave the UK and that union jack will be out of date too!

Uh oh, I've R&P'd :\
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Re: I would like to refresh my faded American Flag

Thu Apr 25, 2019 8:44 am

NTMBK wrote:
Restoring it to your proper flag is going to require a lot of disassembly and rearranging:
[snip]
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Chrispy_ wrote:
With Nicola Sturgeon promising another independence referendum within two years as a way to avoid Brexit fallout, Scotland will probably leave the UK and that union jack will be out of date too!

Uh oh, I've R&P'd :\

Aren't y'all getting the most trouble from that border in Ireland? Saint Patrick's cross could go, too...what would a UK flag look like with only Wales and England?
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Re: I would like to refresh my faded American Flag

Thu Apr 25, 2019 8:59 am

superjawes wrote:
what would a UK flag look like with only Wales and England?

It would be the English flag. Wales has never been represented on the Union Jack.
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Re: I would like to refresh my faded American Flag

Thu Apr 25, 2019 11:32 am

NTMBK wrote:
Restoring it to your proper flag is going to require a lot of disassembly and rearranging:

Image


Cheers from the Colonies... we sent Meghan Markle, so we're square now.
 
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Re: I would like to refresh my faded American Flag

Thu Apr 25, 2019 12:14 pm

roncat wrote:
NTMBK wrote:
Restoring it to your proper flag is going to require a lot of disassembly and rearranging:

Image


Cheers from the Colonies... we sent Meghan Markle, so we're square now.


As long as you keep Piers Morgan, we're cool.
 
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Re: I would like to refresh my faded American Flag

Thu Apr 25, 2019 6:29 pm

Captain Ned wrote:
superjawes wrote:
what would a UK flag look like with only Wales and England?

It would be the English flag. Wales has never been represented on the Union Jack.


I liked seeing the Welsh Dragon when I worked at a joint USAF/RAF base in the UK.
Image

The Gaelic/Celtic dialect is so different from Latin-based. We had a Welsh Ministry of Defence (UK-spelling) technician in my office and we enjoyed listening to her accent.
Had a great time visiting castles and museums around England and Scotland but my assignment time was short and did not get a chance to visit Ireland.
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Re: I would like to refresh my faded American Flag

Thu Apr 25, 2019 7:46 pm

roncat wrote:
Cheers from the Colonies... we sent Meghan Markle, so we're square now.

She isn't so bad. I don't know why the royal family seems to hate her. It's not like she's one of The People of Walmart. Now THAT is frightening! :o

NTMBK wrote:
As long as you keep Piers Morgan, we're cool.
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Re: I would like to refresh my faded American Flag

Fri Apr 26, 2019 1:22 am

BIF wrote:
NTMBK wrote:
As long as you keep Piers Morgan, we're cool.
Waitaminute, didn't he go home? Why does the rifraf always find a way to boomerang back?


Dammit, who let him back in?!
 
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Re: I would like to refresh my faded American Flag

Fri Apr 26, 2019 1:38 am

BIF wrote:
I don't know why the royal family seems to hate her.

Cause she's so likable, obviously. As she was one of the few celebrities I actually cared about before all this crap I'm moderately disappointed.

But not really, cause I never actually cared that much about people I will literally never interact with.
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Re: I would like to refresh my faded American Flag

Fri Apr 26, 2019 11:04 pm

be nice to find a flag that could stand up longer than a few months. I leave mine up permanently (i change it every spring) and in the fall or winter if we get freezing rain and some wind, it tears it apart lol
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Re: I would like to refresh my faded American Flag

Sat Apr 27, 2019 12:55 am

BIF wrote:
I have an open weave nylon (I think) US flag only the red bars have faded. The whites and blues still look great. I want to resist our throw-away society, and to some extent my own predilections. Is there a safe way to bring the reds back to their intended brilliance, to clean the rest of it, and to completely re-UV protect this flag going forward? Budget is flexible for this project and suggestions are welcome.


Well yes, there are many ways, but the problem here is that you're working in nylon, which has nearly zero porosity, so you're not getting dye *into* a thread, you're putting paint on top of tiny plastic cords. You can stain or dye, which is likely to wick along the nylon and bleed terribly, or you can simply mask and paint which will very likely look terrible. As for cleaning, a vigorous hand launder with standard detergent before beginning any treatments should cover it. UV treatment is going to be tricky, again, due to the lack of porosity.
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Re: I would like to refresh my faded American Flag

Sat Apr 27, 2019 11:11 am

Hi everybody.

After closer inspection, I've decided that the fibers have actually sustained significant UV damage over the years and the material probably won't survive what I want to do. The field of stars is actually faded too, and is made of the same mesh weave as the other colors, where I said earlier that it was a solid fabric.

This has been a great flag. But it's really time to replace this flag. So now my effort should be to replace the flag with another one that is fully outdoor-capable and has substantial UV protection.

Thank you all for the help and suggestions. I'll change the title on this thread.

[edit]Deja vu came over me and I just found a second flag in my front hall closet. Not as durable as the other one, and this one did spend time being hung outdoors, in one of my old apartments, etc. So it will go up while I shop for a bulletproof outdoor version.
 
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Re: Change in Plans - I would like to *Replace* my faded American Flag

Sat Apr 27, 2019 11:34 am

Please be sure to dispose of the old one properly. I doubt it's an issue, given the way you spoke about your old flag, but there are people who just think you ball it up and chuck it in a dumpster.
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Re: Change in Plans - I would like to *Replace* my faded American Flag

Sat Apr 27, 2019 11:36 am

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Re: Change in Plans - I would like to *Replace* my faded American Flag

Sat Apr 27, 2019 1:12 pm

Forge wrote:
Please be sure to dispose of the old one properly. I doubt it's an issue, given the way you spoke about your old flag, but there are people who just think you ball it up and chuck it in a dumpster.

Not sure if they all do this, but there's an American Legion post I go past occasionally which has a drop box for old flags. (FYI for anyone who may have an old flag which is in need of a proper disposal.)

On a related note, It really bugs me when I see someone flying a beat up, half-shredded flag from the back of their pickup truck. Flying the flag is supposed to be a sign of respect; by flying a flag that is falling apart you are doing the complete opposite.
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Re: Change in Plans - I would like to *Replace* my faded American Flag

Sat Apr 27, 2019 2:09 pm

The Boy Scouts used to do proper flag retirement ceremonies when I was in them... but I make no guarantees that occurs anymore.

An American Legion or VFW post probably performs the retirement ceremonies or at least can direct you to the right people.
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Re: Change in Plans - I would like to *Replace* my faded American Flag

Sat Apr 27, 2019 3:31 pm

As a non-American, what's wrong with throwing a worn-out flag into the trash?
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Re: Change in Plans - I would like to *Replace* my faded American Flag

Sat Apr 27, 2019 3:32 pm

Chrispy_ wrote:
As a non-American, what's wrong with throwing a worn-out flag into the trash?

As an American, I still don't know what's wrong with burning one.
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Re: Change in Plans - I would like to *Replace* my faded American Flag

Sat Apr 27, 2019 3:46 pm

LostCat wrote:
Chrispy_ wrote:
As a non-American, what's wrong with throwing a worn-out flag into the trash?

As an American, I still don't know what's wrong with burning one.

Or, for that matter, any symbol invented by R&P?
 
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Re: Change in Plans - I would like to *Replace* my faded American Flag

Sat Apr 27, 2019 4:03 pm

Wirko wrote:
LostCat wrote:
Chrispy_ wrote:
As a non-American, what's wrong with throwing a worn-out flag into the trash?

As an American, I still don't know what's wrong with burning one.

Or, for that matter, any symbol invented by R&P?

Burning is in fact the preferred method of disposal. The issue some people have with flag burning is when an otherwise undamaged flag is burned as a form of protest, vs. part of a respectful and necessary retirement ceremony.

Yes, it's a custom/ritual/whatever you want to call it.
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Re: Change in Plans - I would like to *Replace* my faded American Flag

Sat Apr 27, 2019 4:19 pm

just brew it! wrote:
Yes, it's a custom/ritual/whatever you want to call it.

Title 4 US Code § 8, a/k/a the Flag Code. Check out subsection (k).

https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/4/8
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Re: Change in Plans - I would like to *Replace* my faded American Flag

Sat Apr 27, 2019 10:15 pm

Chrispy_ wrote:
As a non-American, what's wrong with throwing a worn-out flag into the trash?

Ever since US v. Eichman, nothing legally. But unless someone is actively making a point against the flag, most people will follow the proper disposal procedures per Captain Ned's link.
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