SKOWHEGAN — When a customer walked into Maine Stitching Specialties a couple of weeks ago asking if the company could make a Ukrainian flag, owner Bill Swain had no idea it would take off like it did.

The company at the time was focused on making American flags to stock up for the busy spring and summer season when they are typically in high demand.

Workers at the manufacturing facility now have shifted focus and are making Ukrainian flags as fast as the orders come in. Orders from around the country are expected to top 1,000 by the end of the week, Swain said Tuesday.

“It’s been a pleasant surprise that we’ve had so much interest,” he said.

Swain was installing grommets in flags Tuesday morning, helping in what he says is a very “labor-intensive” process for making flags.

“Even a relatively simple design has a number of steps,” he said.


Swain’s wife and co-owner of the business, Julie Swain, came up with the idea to donate 20% of the sales to the World Central Kitchen, which is an organization providing meals for Ukrainian refugees.

Bill Swain said he expects to be able to donate several thousand dollars once orders for the flag slow down.

The flags were never intended to be a “money-maker,” he said. The Swains see it as a way to fill a need and also contribute to a cause that is helping Ukrainians displaced by the Russian invasion of their country.

“It’s going to be a sizable contribution that I think a lot of our customers were happy to support, and support the people of Ukraine by flying their flag,” Swain said.

The surge in orders has probably increased the total number of flags the company sells by 15%, he said.

The flags come in different sizes and range in price from $15 to $52. The most popular size is 3-by-5 feet, the standard flag size.


The Swains took over the former Dirigo Stitching facility in Skowhegan in 2015.

Julie Swain the prior year started making blaze orange vests for dogs. The vests, now part of the couple’s Dog Not Gone line of products, took off in popularity, leading them to take over Dirigo Stitching from the retiring owner, Peter Schultz.

In addition to the American flag, Maine Stitching Specialties makes Maine state flags and the 1901 Maine state flag with the well-known pine tree logo, but flags are only a small part of the business.

The company mostly stays busy making commercial products like hotel draperies or hospital privacy curtains, as well as the Dog Not Gone line and insect- and tick-repellent gear for pets and people.

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