American Flags construction: printed or sewn?

Why are some American flags, or other types of flags, sewn and some flags are printed?

A printed/dyed flag is colored because the fabric is either stained with dye, printed with ink or silkscreened with ink. 

A sewn flag is made by joining the individual pieces of colored fabric with thread to create the desired image. 

The construction method is often deemed by the intricate detail in the flag design. 

Example: The state of Oklahoma flag has multiple colors and the design is very detailed. The best way to produce this flag is by screen dye method. If the design on an Oklahoma flag were completely sewn the flag would be several hundred dollars! The state of Texas flag is simple and it is very economical to produce the flag by joining the fabric to make the flag resulting in a very affordable sewn flag.

What is the difference between an American flag which is printed vs. sewn?

In general, all United States flags produced by American manufacturers are made from one of 3 fabrics: nylon, polyester or cotton. It is possible to print or sew all of these fabrics to create the desired image.

How can I tell if my flag is of quality construction and will last?

The quality of a flag made by a bonified United States flag manufacturing company is likely good to excellent and the production method, dyed, screen printed or sewn will not affect the flag life.

The following construction features assure the flag is well made:

  • Double needle lock stitched hem on the upper and lower horizontal length edges (fly length)
  • Four rows of lock-stitching with back stitched reinforcement on the fly end
  • Strong polyester or cotton canvas band (heading) along the left vertical height of the flag
  • Brass rolled rim grommets up to size 6’x10’
  • Srong polyester roped heading with galvanized steel thimbles size 8’x12’ and larger

The presence of the Flag Manufacturers Association of America (FMAA) seal on the heading of an American flag assures the flag is 100% American made excellent quality.
Caution: some U.S. flag manufacturers also produce budget flags for distribution through retail chains.

When the flag fabric is thin enough to see through, it will not survive in wind or inclement weather. Inexpensive flag kits found at checkout stations or in mass displays in discount stores may very well be a good buy at the time, but it is not reasonable to expect to purchase a 3’x5’ good quality Made in America flag for $9.99.