Folding a US Flag
HOW TO FOLD THE U.S. FLAG
STEP ONE: Get Ready With Your Partner
Grab your partner and your flag. Yes, you’ll, need a partner if you’re going to do this right. Stand facing your partner while you hold two corners of the flag and he or she holds the other two at about waist level. The flag should be parallel to the ground, and the sides facing both of you should be the shorter ones.
Careful — it’s taboo to let the flag touch the ground. If you’re feeling a bit uncoordinated, or you know your partner is a grade-A klutz, you may want to practice with a flat sheet or blanket first.
STEP TWO: Fold Widthwise Twice
Raise the side of the flag that normally hangs on the bottom, the side entirely covered by stripes, over the side with the “union” on it. Grab the new corner you have made along the crease so that again the flag is parallel to the ground, all-stripe side up. Repeat this widthwise fold so that the union is now on either side, half facing the ground and half facing the sky.
STEP THREE: Corner Your Flag
Now that you’re holding your twice-folded flag, notice that of the new rectangle shape you have made, one long side is “open,” and one is “closed.” The open side consists of the original perimeter of the flag — you can still separate the folds into individual layers of material. The crease on the other side encloses the layers of fabric under it, so it’s “closed.” Now fold the flag in a series of triangles. To do it scrupulously correct, you’ve got to start the folding at a specific point. Start at the striped end of your rectangle. Take the corner of the closed side and bring it diagonally over to the open side, forming a triangular flap.
STEP FOUR: Continue Cornering
You’ve created a most inharmonious shape at this point: a long, rectangular shape with a corner lopped off. Take the pointy corner and fold it down, over the other triangular fold, to create a straight edge once again. Now repeat this folding process, switching corners with each fold, until just a blue square of the union is peeking out from the triangular fold. Only one person does this triangular folding; your partner ceremoniously and patiently holds the other end (ensuring that it doesn’t touch the floor!).
STEP FIVE: The Final Fold and Tuck
All you’ve got left is the final fold — the tricky turn that some argue is at the crux of the whole operation. Instead of you folding the thick triangle of folded flag fabric over the last remaining blue square, your partner — who has waited for you so patiently — finally gets to do some creasing. The person on the union end of the flag will take the corner on the open leg and fold it down along the edge of the other leg to form a triangle. He or she then tucks the remaining blue tab under the folds of the thick triangle until the flag is a neat triangle and can’t easily unravel. Store the flag in a safe place, and when you want to raise it or use it again, unfold it using these steps in the opposite direction.