Pinnas & Needles alterations

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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. 

They have a website, and you can email or call. But I would suggest just turning up, ringing the buzzer, and going up to ask about any alteration you have in mind. 

There is a full list of resources for cleaning, alterations and repairs that I have tried and can recommend, here

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

pinnasandneedles.com/

 

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Anonymous

I like the attention to detail on the duffle coat.It is a very good sign of the tailor’s approach to any item of clothing when the finished garment looks as if it has never been altered.
I once gave a guy an overcoat and asked him to renew the velvet collar.The coat was returned with the collar sewn in by hand and doubled over underneath as a traditional bespoke tailor would have done.I knew then that the chap was a craftsman with high standards and I could trust him with my other garments.

Triskel

A slight side question, but how do you find the quality of the Berg and Berg trousers?

Anonymous

Why do you prefer without the stretch Simon?

Anonymous

Most corduroy cloth these days has a tiny amount of elastine. I’ve got bespoke trousers made at 100% cotton and 98% cotton (the norm for those that have it) and frankly couldn’t tell the difference.

Anon

‘Sorry to extend the side comment; but I find the side adjusters on the Berg trousers to be a bit bazaar and an all too obvious money-saving technique. I am all for money saving techniques, but prefer them to be more inconspicuous. The belted trousers are great.

Anonymous

Glad they are getting credit where due. Annoying that my best local soho resource is only going to get busier though…

Anonymous

Good alteration tailors are hard to find here where I live in the north west.

There used to be a Savile Row trained guy but he retired a few years ago.

Anonymous

Anyone with experience of their bespoke would be invaluable to chat to…

Anonymous

Work looks really great.

I use and recommend the Hidalgo Brothers on Savile Row to pretty much every and anyone that will listen Christian is really hospitable, they’re super quick and very affordable before that I was using Atelier Colpani on Avery Row also very good in my experience.

I’m going to check these guys out though as I have a pair of similar trousers that I’m going to need altering.

It’s very interesting to learn of the correct way to add turn ups to trousers

Thanks for the recommendation and tips as always.

David

I was also interested in Simon’s brief description of the “proper way” to finish trousers with turn-ups. All the pants I have with turn-ups, including those made or finished by tailors, are a single sewn fold, not doubled over and tucked inside. Does anyone have thoughts about the relative virtues of each of these methods? And wouldn’t Simon’s way create a too-bulky trouser bottom on thicker fabrics? I am in the U.S., if that is relevant.

Thanks!

Fred

Hi Simon,

How do the Berg & Berg cords compare to the similar style from Cordings? Are they worth twice the price? (Cordings cords, and their molehair, flat front pants w side adjusters, are an excellent value, methinks.) Thank you.

Colin

Cordings are solid and as Simon mentions not that modern an aesthetic so you will likely need to alter by tapering the leg. The cord and moleskin are cut differently, but both on the more accommodating side. The seat is also generous but if you size down you may avoid a more expensive alteration there. I believe they source their material from Brisbane Moss.

JK

Hi Simon, does this mean you’ve stopped using Graham Browne for alterations? If so, why?

Yung Tsen, Tan

I have been a very happy client of theirs for the past year or so. My first introduction to them has been through Styleforum. The twins have actually helped me with shoulder alterations with some of my second hand RTW suits – a tricky alteration process – which have turned out great, overall.

More importantly, they have been honest with me whenever alterations are not possible which is probably when they won me over.

Ben

Can’t recommend these guys enough. Haven’t used them for a while (due to not having to wear tailored clothes to work anymore), but always go to them when I need alterations. Genuinely nice guys too.

Jason

A great tip for those flaneurs living in London.
Here’s one for those in SW Surrey :
‘Stitched In Time’
Borelli Yard, Farnham GU97NU
Ph: 01252733557
Proprietor: Kristel
Standard of work is excellent.

Evan Everhart

Hi Simon,

I live in Los Angeles County, United States. My 2 favorite local alterations tailors are 2 gentlemen that my Father and I have both used to different extents for the better part of the last 25-plus years. My Father used to use Stassart Tailors, and they are quite good. I’ve got satisfactory work from him on multiple occasions and he is very knowledgeable. I would trust him to do work with linings of coats.

My favorite alterations tailor, and incidentally, the one who costs more, is Arman, at Jerry’s Tailors in North Hollywood, CA. His work is exceptional! His turn around time is typically a week or less for a single garment, and he offers a rush service at a very nominal surcharge. He has mended plush silk velvet smoking jackets for me so that tears could not even be seen, he has relined jackets, immaculately, he has even completely re-made and re-fitted my Great Grandfather’s frock coat for me so that it fits perfectly! That is no small feat, as it is a body coat! He even was able to taper the sleeves perfectly after re-aligning those! His work on sleeves is masterful and artistic. The price was not nominal, but it was well worth the investment. He has completely remade several suits for me that were in need of extensive work for one reason or another, and he did so skillfully and beautifully! He managed to alter a pair of trousers that went to my Grandfather’s dinner jacket! I have rather wide hips, and a rather tiny waist; there is a 3 inch drop from my hip to my high waist, and the waist needed to be taken in perhaps 5.5 inches! His skillful work saved the suit, and it was done without deforming or displacing the silk braid up the side of the leg, and without making them excessively narrow either. Better yet, his wife had done the work, and they flared slightly at the end as she had missed one of his markings, and when he saw this, he immediately fixed the quirky fit in less than 7 minutes. I am immensely satisfied with his work, and refer all of my friends, family, and clients to this very friendly and skilled craftsman.

Simon

Thanks, Simon. Another really helpful article in this fantastic series – as a Londoner, I have already heeded your recommendations of Michael Norman, Jaunty Flaneur and Graham Browne. I have some Ede & Ravenscroft off-the-peg suit trousers, which I find too wide but their in-house tailors won’t slim. Is this the type of work for which you would recommend Pinnas & Needles?

Harry

Both Hidalgo Brothers (Savile Row) and Pinnas & Needles are good. Hidalgo have a downloadable PDF price list for most alterations.

Now trying out a proper bespoke tailor in Shortlands, Kent.

I stay clear of dry cleaners who do alterations.

Il vecchio

The twins are extremely competent and very pleasant to deal withJ. I am long retired but in my hey-day I had many suits and sports jacket made by Anderson and Shepard and the diaspora mainly Brian Russell. Things move on and the jackets were too long shoulders too wide trousers baggy etc. The twin have altered these to look to my eye at least like new. The interest and care from them has been consistently excellent.

Jasper

It’s fun to read something like this and to see what you bring to your alteration tailor. I don’t have any experience with bespoke but use my lokal alteration tailor a lot for pretty complex alterations.

The tailor were I bring my stiff to used to be a bespoke tailor so I guess I’m lucky. I had trousers sometimes made two sizes smaller in the past. If I found a really good vintage garment I just had to try make it work. It was a hobby I guess. Now I don’t bring these sort of extreme alterations to him anymore but like mentioned in the comment section here before, buying trousers for a good price in good material can be changed in style pretty easy by slimming down the enkle with for example. That’s the reason I do have a few pairs of cordings trousers and a lot of military vintage trousers that look somewhat modern because I changed the style.

Wondering how your military trousers came out fit wise.

Dave Carter

I have used them a few times, but found their opening hours unpredictable in practice and they don’t often answer the telephone.

Pio

Hi Dave,
We always try to answer the phone but sometime we can’t as way too busy seeing the customers, there’s always our email where we get back as soon as we get free.
Also our opening are mon-fri 9-6, if we are away we do put a note on the front door.
Best
Pio&Fran.

Gab

Hi Simon, I heard B&B trousers tend to be snug. What’s your take on this? Which size did you end up picking?

AJ

Hi Simon, how difficult of an alteration is lengthening the sleeves on a jacket?

Victor

Slightly off topic, but I’d be quite curious as to how you’d style those black cords.

Kerin O'Connor

Run, don’t walk, with your alteration needs to Luke Saava in Tottenham Court Road. By a country mile the best alteration tailor in London, Luke has a great feel for clothes and will happily reshape jackets and change shoulders. Terrific guy too.

Ani

I was recommended these guys when I needed a RTW suit altered. From memory the twins took over from someone who died perhaps 10 years ago. They are v nice. The shop / workspace is utilitarian with nothing flash – you get changed behind a curtain. Over the years I’ve had a fair few RTW suits and coats altered by them. Always an excellent job and fairly priced. Also good when they told me the price of some work would not be worth it. My brother and Bro in Law have used them as well. I might try them for a bespoke jacket.

Matt

Echoing others comments, the twins at Pinnas and Needles are great. They also do all the work for Bestaff locally, so can handled items like heavy waxed cotton jackets (they recently helped me return a favourite jacket I bought at peak weight to service)

augustuspenn

Having been among those who protested the word “flaneur” for this blog’s readership, but also having found that such protests left the poster who’s a soi-disant flaneur unperturbed, I withdraw my objections as a gentleman ought. To do so gracefully, I append an ODE TO THE FLÂNEUR, taken from a half-sheet of foxed paper found in an old tailor’s etui in Mayfair some decades ago, and written in an early 19th-century hand with a crow quill, by the look of it.

ODE TO THE FLÂNEUR

He stalks in booty like a knight
For the best-clad lads and smart-set guys,
In Kiton suit, Berluti boots,
And the soie of Charvet’s soigné ties.
He’s Brummel’s heir in savoir-faire,
Modèle pour tous les hommes à suivre,
He steals the show, he ties the Beau—
Et qui n’est pas son Vrai Believre?
He buys and buys for the by and by,
Scorning meanly going broke.
Eternity sits sleek on him,
And should: he ordered it bespoke.
O saunter on, flaneur, flâneur,
Avec ou moins le circonflex!
Enjoy thy jaunt and condign flaunt,
Sure cynosure of every sex!
With hand near heart thy grace impart
To earners of wages, from en haut:
“Bon ton’s le bon, le bon’s bon ton—
That’s all I know and all I need to know.”

Simon

Hi Simon,
Do you know if they (or anyone else) can shorten the sleeves on a bonded Mackintosh raincoat? Concerned that as it’s a glued garment that tying to do so will cause issues?
Thanks

Simon

Just shorten – I was concerned that cutting the end of a taped seam might cause it to come loose – but I’l go in and ask.

Pio

Hi Simon,
we do work on bonded/glued garments so shortening the sleeves of your coat won’t be a problem.
Thanks
Pio&Fran

Sarah

Like Kerin O’Connor – I take all my clients to Savva Tailors in Tottenham Court Road for alterations. They’re great, but it’s good to have alternative places and I’ve been meaning to try Pinnas & Needles for awhile.

Rob Thomas

Great post , Simon. Saved me some research time.

Out of curiosity: if bespoke, why not take the item back to the original tailor?

Deb

Wonderful article and a joy to read! We bring our clients to Pinnas and Needles, sometimes with highly complex fitting issues. Their work is perfection guaranteed. Such lovely people too.

Ken

Glad to come across this, it’s well deserved credit. The most impressive alteration they’d done for me was to take down a RTW jacket bought on clearance down a size or two. Flawless work. Most of my other needs were taking trousers in and out as my diet yo-yos. I (sadly) no longer have to wear suits to work but I can’t recommend their work enough.

Erwan Fournis

I have now used them for shoulder alterations on two jackets and for a pair of trousers (taking in the waist). The service and craftmanship is superb, and, both cheaper and, dare I say, better than a Saville Row tailor who did similar alterations for me. I will definitely use them going forward.

Peter

OK time for a positive comment.
The work looks excellent Simon – I hate doing alterations so it’s reassuring to see drudgery like this undertaken with a level of forethought and professionalism that you don’t get from a dilettante.

Tim

Hello Simon, I also have a vintage pair of army trousers which I never wear for the same reasons you did not. I decided on getting it altered and I was wondering something. If I understand well, the alterations/the leg was tapered on the inside seam, am I correct?

Also, I really enjoyed the new fit they now have, as displayed in your « what I wore during lockdown » article. I was wondering if you could tell me the new measurements of the bottom leg?

Thanks in advance!