Sewing Machine Research
ISMACS International
International Sewing Machine Collectors' Society

The Pinking Machine: a mechanical go-with

Pinking Shears

fig 1
Pinking Shears

by Martin Gregory

'Pinking" is the name given to producing scalloped or zig-zag edges to cloth for decorative purposes or to prevent fraying. Nowadays it is usually done with 'pinking shears" (Figure 1), a pair of special scissors. For the serious dressmaker, specialised machines have long been available to produce a variety of uniform fancy edges. Here are a couple of variants and the edges they produce (Figure 2). I would be interested in pictures and details of others, so send them to ISMACS News.

Hannum Pinking Machine Example Hannum Gem Pinking Machine Example Chandler Pinking Machine Example

fig 2
samples of pinking

The Hannum Pinking Machine

fig 3
The Hannum Pinking Machine

The first is an American machine, the 'Hannum Pinking Machine" patented 110 years ago on November 2nd 1897 (Figure 3).

Cutter Wheel of the Hannum Pinking Machine

fig 4
Cutter Wheel of theHannum Pinking Machine

A sharp wheel cutter with a wavy edge (Figure 4) rolls against an upper wheel. Both cutter and upper wheel are hardened steel and the pressure between them is controlled by a screw. When cloth is fed between the wheels the edge is cut in the pattern of the cutter wheel. The 'Hannum" machine was made by H. A. Hannum & Co., Syracuse, NY and must have been a success as an improved version called 'The Gem" (Figure 5) was patented in America on April 25th 1899 and subsequently in Canada, England, France, Belgium, Italy and Russia between that date and 1903. The principal improvement is the ability to change the cutter wheels.

Hannum's Gem Pinking Machine

fig 5
Hannum's Gem Pinking Machine

The Chandler Pinking Machine

fig 6
The Chandler Pinking Machine

In a later American machine, the 'Chandler HP2" (Figure 6) the two wheels are reversed, the wavy cutter wheel is on top, and is driven through gears to keep the sense of rotation the same. A spring regulates the pressure between the wheels. This machine produces the ordinary zig-zag to prevent fraying (Figure 7).

Cutter Wheel of the Chandler Pinking Machine

fig 7
Cutter Wheel of theChandler Pinking Machine

The machine in Figure 6 is similar to the design shown in an English trade catalogue of 1930 (Figure 8).

Pinking Machine - Trade catalogue 1930

fig 8
Trade catalogue 1930