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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Cool antique tools-Pinking Machines

I am sharing my favorite antique tools with you. These are called pinking machines, and are mainly from the late 19th, early 20th century. Like pinking scissors, these little machines cut decorative edges on fabrics and leather, preventing fray. Early use of pinking tools has been found in Elizabethan garments, where they were slashed and pinked, showing under layers through the cuts. In the 18th century they were used to finish sleeves and edges, creating a light weight "hem." See above photo of an 18th century sleeve flounce. Women used iron tools that were struck with a hammer on a slab held in their laps. A long day of that would have surely racked the bones. I own some hand-held pinking tools, and believe me, this is true:

Trying to find the machines takes digging and patience. The traditional straight edged pinking machines are much easier to find, even in the hand cranking models. I started with the deep V shape machine here:

Here is the pattern it cuts:

I was really after the curved scallop shape, and found this small model...but the curves are rather small, creating almost v-shaped curves:

Here is the pattern of this machine:

At last, the machine I was looking for:

It creates this pattern:

Later I will post the use of this pinked silk on a hat.


  1. OMG! These machines are wonderful - and a Godsend!

    I've tried to cut the scallops with modern pinking scissors before, to little avail. And I've neither time, money nor inclination to try and attempt to make my own pinking iron tools. Might I ask what machines you've acquired (brand name, machine style name, age/era, etc)? I've got a pinking machine myself, but it's a (relatively) more recent model; the 1930s Singer pinker, which has the same faults as my pinking scissors.

    So I plan to keep my eye out for an early Hannum "Gem" pinker, circa 1890-1910. They pop up from time to time on eBay and other sites. *crosses fingers* Hope I get lucky!! ^^

  2. I too would be interested in the make and models you found.

  3. ou trouver cet outil ?
    c'est merveilleux ce qu'il peut faire

  4. If you are looking for one of the scalloping punches I just able to purchase one from marenhusDesign on etsy. She has a blacksmith who makes a pretty good reproduction