Community Project: Heather Hajen, Val D’Angri, Jen Mitchell and Bev Hawkes 2014

One of the clues about who made the flag is how long it took to make. There is one popular, romantic story that women worked in a tent overnight to create the flag. The story of the tent makers Darton and Walker states that there was 39 hours between the time the order was placed and the flag was flown.

Interested in how long it would take to make the flag, M.A.D.E conducted its own living history project in 2014 as part of the 160th anniversary events.

It was a community project with two great, great-grand-daughters of Anastasia Withers, Fiona Crawford and Val D’Angri leading the project as flag ambassadors. The Ballaarat Quilters and the Ballarat Branch of the Victorian Embroiders Guild provided hands to stitch the flag and guidance for participants. Over 150 visitors and community members worked on the flag.

Total stitching time, excluding preparation time, was recorded at 170 hours. If we assume that at least three people worked on the flag that means it would take them 56 hours or 7 days (at 8 hour days) to make the flag.

It is unlikely the women in 1854 would have had entire, spare days to devote just to stitching a flag. They all had families and work to do. But they would also have been, more highly accomplished seamstresses than us today, fast and efficient at hand sewing. Weighing up these factors, it is likely then to have taken three women at least a week of full-time stitching to make a flag of this size.