Friday, April 8, 2011

Smackdown: Clash of the Pinkers

I recently bid (but not high enough) on a vintage Singer pinker, the kind that stands on a table.  You turn a crank and feed the fabric through the pinker. I've seen one in the wild recently at a thrift shop I visit, but thanks to eBay they want $85 for it and they have it locked up in a glass case. 

Fortunately I was outbid early in the auction and decided it was time to investigate the unused pinkers I already own.  Two are vintage thift shop finds, one I purchased within the last 10 years but don't remember ever using.  All three appear to be in mint condition.

The Florian Pinker
This is the mutant offspring of a pizza cutter and a pair of scissors.  I say "pizza cutter" because this contraption predates rotary cutters.  It works like scissors, and like scissors you have to keep moving it along the fabric.  Unlike scissors, this thing keeps its grip on the fabric as you move it along.

The blade is very sharp and it makes a nice cut.  It takes a bit of effort and coordination to push the mechanism up, down and along.  It's an unusual motion, but if you ever learned to roller skate you could probably master this.  My hand tired pretty quickly.

On the back of the box, faintly in pencil, the previous owner noted the store, town and date when she bought it--in 1946. 


Stellar Pinking Shears

These are just a normal pair of pinking shears, albeit in a cute vintage box.  Both the box and scissors are in lovely shape and the scissors are nice and sharp.  They are heavy and clunky to operate, even after a drop of sewing machine oil at the hinge point.


Mundial Sewlite Pinking Shears
These modern pinking shears are longer than the vintage ones, but lighter in weight.  Nice and sharp.  I had no problem cutting across two widths of fabric.  Hands down the winner.

The purpose of this exercise
Most of the fabric I buy comes from various thrift shops, but wherever the fabric comes from it gets washed in hot water and put in a hot dryer.  "Know the worst right away" is my motto (along with "kill the lurking insects right away" and "wash out the formaldehyde right away').  Raw edges ravel in the wash, so currently I serge the cut ends of yardage prior to washing.  I thought that pinking the edges might be faster than getting the serger out.  Although the REAL story is that I got to lusting over that vintage Singer pinker but could never bring myself to spend the bucks to get one.

Clash of the Pinkers:  Results
For one or two pieces of fabric, pinking just might be the answer.  But even with the light weight Mundials I think my hands would get tired if I were pinking more than two pieces of fabric.  Your (non-arthritic) Mileage May Differ.

So, am I going to get rid of the vintage pinkers now that I have discovered that (at  least in this one narrow instance) modern is better?  No way!  The vintage ones are just so cute.  And you have to love a mutant pizza cutter that looks like a whale.
Besides, it is three years older than I am and it is still sharp.  Wish I could say the same for myself!

Do you have an unusual vintage pinker?  Send me a photo and I'll share it here.


  1. I have never seen anything like that Florian! I do have a pair that do not work well but belonged to my grandmother. They occupy a special place in my tool drawer as a sort of talisman - luck charm. Interesting.

  2. I love those 'whale' pinkers. So cute! I have my grandmother's old pinking shears, and they are worn out. Too far gone to sharpen. The metal doesn't even meet anymore, but, they still mean something to me, just cuz they were my grandmother's. Enjoy that 'whale'

  3. I have just scrolled down through The Straight Stitch Smackdown and I see where your 99 'drifts' when you drive. Is the presser foot slightly off line by any chance? Mine was and needed only a tiny adjustment and now the foot AND the stitching are perfectly straight. I would check out the vintage Singer yahoo group and see how to do this.
    Just a thought

  4. @Kathy: thanks for the tip. I will definitely check this out.

  5. I ran across your site. We have acquired the rights, equipment and parts to manufacture the Florian Pinker. Currently we can 'repair' them. Generally they just need the wheel and spring mechanism replaced. Once we are set up we will be able to manufacture new ones. The original makers basically just got tired of doing it - they are all getting up in age - and we went to Connecticut last week and loaded up their equipment and stuff. It is on it's way to us in Oregon. We use these extensively in the aircraft business on fabric wings. Sailmakers and quilters love them. If you want more info or would like to contact us just drop me an email at We are in the process of setting up a Florian Pinker website and email. Lynda Elaine Sales at Overall Manufacturing (Florian Pinker).

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