Pinnas & Needles alterations
Over the past six months I’ve used the Soho workshop Pinnas & Needles for several alterations - from the simple to the complex - and feel I can now fully recommend them.
Being able to satisfyingly alter clothing, so it sorts out a problem or suddenly fits again, is a crucial part of looking after quality clothes - and Pinnas & Needles have been accurate, professional and reliable.
Located on the first floor of an old building on Lexington Street, the workshop is run by the Italian twins Pio and Francesco. They originally trained in Italy and the UK, worked in-house at Mark Marengo, and since 2010 have run their own operation.
Pretty much all the work is done in-house, which is helpful as it has meant that - for example - a quick change to a button or tweak to an alteration can be done while I waited.
And the prices reflect the level of the work: from £16 to finish a pair of trousers with a turn-up, to £140 for a complex piece of lining work.
I’ve highlighted three of the alterations I took in here, to demonstrate the quality and the range.
First, shown above, is the turn-up on a pair of trousers. They are black cords, from Berg & Berg in Sweden, and came unhemmed (as you’d want, in order to get the length perfect).
I wanted them finished with a 5cm turn-up, and after ascertaining that there was enough cloth to do this the proper way (doubled over on the outside, then tucked inside), Fran(cesco) took measurements.
Usefully, he both measured my inside leg and the inside leg of the trousers I was wearing (as I was happy with that length). The one served to confirm the other, and the result was that the final cords were perfect.
I actually tried them on with a little basting thread still left on the outside, which Fran then took off when we established they were correct.
The work inside was neat and functional. Overlocked stitched rather than sewn by hand - as perhaps a Savile Row pair of trousers might be - but well done and great value for £16.
The second piece of work was more complex.
I love this Gloverall duffle coat of mine, and wear it often with more casual tailoring (see article on it worn with a tweed jacket). But it’s not the easiest thing to get on and off when wearing tailoring - because there’s no lining in the body or sleeves.
I therefore asked the twins if they could put a navy lining in the top of the back, and the sleeves.
The price for the work was fairly high (£140) but when I saw afterwards what they had done, it made sense.
Rather than just simply tack the lining to the coat, they unpicked the seams and worked the lining underneath all the way around the top of the back, the armhole, and the cuffs.
They then tacked it by hand across the middle of the back, so there was room for it to move. And they reattached the Gloverall label on top of the lining, with the result that it looks like the lining was always there.
When I picked up the coat, I also thought the lining was a little loose, as it bellowed outwards on either side of my chest, when the coat was open. This was another change that was made while I waited.
I think this alteration in particular is a good example of the kind of work I would never trust to a local dry-cleaner, who would be unlikely to have real tailoring experience.
Finally, the alteration above was also on a pair of trousers, but more complex.
I bought this vintage pair of army chinos at Le Vif in Paris a while ago, but found the leg too wide for me. I ummed and erred about changing it (hence my inclusion of the question of alterations in our vintage week articles) and finally decided I should.
Of course the thing you want to avoid with altering vintage, if possible, is to change the appearance of the seams - both because it won’t look as nice, and because it will make the alteration more obvious.
So we discussed how much could be taken out of the leg just from the back - so the back side would slide under the front, and leave the appearance of the seam unchanged.
The twins were very helpful here, and I brought in a pair of my old Armoury chinos as a reference of how wide the leg would ideally be. (Something I’d always recommend if you want the fit altered on clothing.)
The result was again, perfect, as you can see in the images above. Or rather not see, as the seam looks unchanged. That work cost £100.
The twins also do some bespoke tailoring themselves, but I haven’t tried that nor seen any in person. I also haven’t tried them for anything complex on a tailored jacket.
The workshop is often busy, but I had to wait between one and three weeks for the various alterations, which was fine for me.
Do add any places you would personally recommend below, or on that more general article. I know others always appreciate it.
Valet stand pictured from Honorific