[Ansteorra] Ansteorra Digest, Vol 54, Issue 24

Jennifer Carlson talana1 at hotmail.com
Mon Oct 25 11:48:50 PDT 2010

I'm weighing in a little late on this topic:
Pinking was and is still done as a decorative motif on shoes, purses, and saddlery.  For garments, today it almost entirely is used as a method of trimming seam edges in a manner to reduce fraying and to feather the edge of linings, interlinings, and interfactings to reduce how much they show through a garment's surface.
If you have access to a copy of Janet Arnold's books, you will find photos of pinked garments, particularly doublets.  Most pinking I've seen in photos and paintings was simply small, straight slashes in the fabric.  Cut them on the bias - you will have less tearing of the fabric under stress than if you slash along or across the grain of the fabric, and bias cuts generally fray less.  Wool pinks well, particularly a woolen (as opposed to a worsted) fabric, as the fibers cling together and the fraying will be minimized.  Silk pinks beautifully.  Master Oxlade has a gorgeous blue, pinked-silk doublet.
I would recommend using a razor blade or X-acto knife, and do practice pieces before you cut into your garment pieces.  It is easier to pink before putting the garment together.  Pinking shears generally have blades that are not of the same length - this is good for pinking the edges of seams, but is clumsy for decorative pinking across the breadth of fabric.  I have not tried using any of the Olfa rotary blades that create decorative pinked edges.  If you try them, I would again say to pratice first, because rotarty blades are a little more tricky to stop cutting exactly where you want to than with traditional shears.
Buttonhole chisels are a more period solution - they only make straight cuts, but they are easy to use.  You can find them for sale online here : http://www.clotilde.com/list.html?cat_id=85  You could also use a small wood chisel, well-sharpened, with a piece of maple for a backstop.  Stop and check the chisel's edge frequently, especially if you are pinking wool - hair can dull blades.
If you want a chiseal with a pattern, say a zig-zag or wave, there are excellent knife-smiths in the SCA who make them.  Master Diarmaid has two shoemaker's pinking chisels he commissioned from an SCA smith.  I can try to dig up the name if you're interested.
In servicio,

More information about the Ansteorra mailing list