Thursday, July 26, 2012

Tools Of The Trade...

One thing that has had me on the hunt for years in the realm of 18th century styling, is the pinking tool.
Each time I thought I had at least one within my grasp, I lost the auction or the company making them would fold.

Last night while perusing Ebay, I found one, and was finally able to purchase it!
The seller mentioned that it is an old leather working tool and may need some sharpening, which is an easy fix. It has a tiny zig zag or 'Van Dyke' pattern, and while I'd love to find a scallop version, this is a good start. I have some scallop pinking shears that will do if I absolutely need it, until I find another tool like this. Many 18th century items I've seen with a pinked edge, however; have had this tiny zig zag. More often than I've seen the scallop

The size of this one is 7/8" wide, perfect for making the pinked scallop-within-scallop sleeve ruffles.
A wooden mallet and a piece of wood for under your fabric is all that is needed. Here is a photo of
Augustintytär's experiment with this on her amazing 1760's robe à la Française. The tool I found will end up with scallops that look very similar in shape and size to these:

I'll also need to dig for an image in my collection showing a physical historical reference of the results of such a tool (I have some not-so-great photos), but here is an 18th century diagram showing various types of pinking tool. Mine will give a pattern similar to figures A or 4:

Many people have asked, why not just use regular pinking shears? I have before, and while they work fine on some things, here are my own reasons for wanting a pinking tool over pinking shears for certain projects. Particularly when I'm faced with cutting a lot of fabric:

- pinking with shears is tedious and makes my hand hurt after just a few scallops, let alone cutting a straight line.
- shears loose their sharpness much quicker.
- they don't cut through silk taffeta easily, for very long.
- You can't cut your scallop pattern through multiple layers of silk neatly.
- a pinking tool actually does better with punching through multiple layers of fabric, as it gets a better 'bite'.
- and the above makes a pinking tool that much less tedious, as it takes half the time as trimming each scallop by hand, on only one layer of your fabric, with shears.

I can probably add to this list, but that's pretty much where I stand ;-)


  1. Lucky girl!!! I am so envious. I agree with your reasons for preferring the tool over the shears. Wow the hands hurt after just a few crunches through with the shears, and when you're doing yarrrrrds of trim...well, you know.

    1. Oh yes, I know too well. I actually gave myself a mild case of tendonitis once I think, when I had to use regular pinking shears for a project. It required 15 yards of ruched trim, and even thought the edge was straight, just cutting through the silk at 3 yards became difficult.

      Luckily the pain it caused cleared up, but it was a sign to me that I had to find another way.

      I'm seriously thinking about making some of these tools myself. I may have the way and the means...I'll keep you posted.


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