Tag Archives: jeans

Ad Campaign – Levi’s for Women, 1957 and 1958

Inspired by the cowboy… the modish young miss is flattering her figure in the trim tapered lines of LEVI’S California ranch pants… the beguiling styling from the wide open spaces.

I’d been wanting to see an example of Levi’s for women western shirts after learning that the Vanderbilt Shirt Company made them in the 1950s and 1960s.  And while I still haven’t located an actual shirt, I did round up these ads that clearly show the types of shirts by Levi’s.

I love how the ads “feminize” the jeans by having them worn with ballerina flats and sandals.  No boots for those cowgirls.

Color-coordinated cotton shirts… about $4.96 to $6.95.

And just because the ad is cute:


Filed under Advertisements

Making Jeans at LC King

As promised, today I’ll show a bit of how Pointer Brand constructs their dungarees.  Actually, I think they were making overalls, but you’ll get the idea!

It starts with a pattern , laid out on a computer.  Marinda manipulated the pattern pieces to maximize the use of the fabric.  The goal is to eliminate as much waste as possible.  So the pieces are placed as closely together as is workable.

When she is satisfied that she has the best arrangement of the pieces, the pattern is sent to this huge printer, which prints the arrangement of pieces onto paper.

Look closely to see the lines of the pattern appearing on the paper.

The pattern is then taken upstairs to the cutting room, which I showed in yesterday’s post.  Many thicknesses of denim are pulled over that table, and then the pattern is put in place and stapled to the fabric.

Then the cutter takes over.  Using what looks like a saw, he carefully cuts through all the layers of fabric.  Note the nifty chain mail glove!

Then the pieces are taken to the correct sewing room.  There the sewers work through the steps of making each garment.  There are roughly 30 steps in the sewing process.

The sewer will have a stack of pieces to work on, and she does the same process on the entire stack.  This sewer is putting the pocket on the bib of overalls.  Note how she is turning the corners manually.  Such skill!

In another part of the room, two sewers were making the front fly of jeans.  Having struggled through fly construction in the past, I stood there and learned a thing or two.  They certainly made it look easy.

This is the back pocket machine.  It automatically places and stitches on the rear pockets in a jiffy.

Yes, it IS fast!

The pocket machine:

Things are kept straight by use of computer labels, showing the garment and size.  Scraps from the cutting are used to bind the different sections during construction.

This great little gadget automatically makes the perfect flat felled seam.

Zip, and the back seam is done!

They have lots of machines that do one very specialized job, like this point maker.  This is what makes the corners of collars and cuffs so crisp.

One thing that really surprised me (though after thinking about it, made sense) was that one of Pointer Brand’s biggest markets is Japan.  Most vintage sellers know what a big market Japan is for vintage denim, but they love these classic American standards like a pair of work dungarees or a chore jacket.  In Japan, Pointer is a fashion brand, not a work brand.

And how does Pointer Brands stay so fashion forward?  They do their reading!!

Thanks so much to Marinda and Jack and all the super people at Pointer Brands.  I loved visiting and sharing your story.

1 Comment

Filed under Made in the USA, Road Trip, Textiles

Made in the USA – L.C. King Manufacturing Company, Makers of Pointer Brand

This is the L.C. King Manufacturing Company  in Bristol, Tennessee.  It was opened in 1913 as a maker of jeans and overalls.  That’s not so unusual, because at one time there were dozens of small jeans factories scattered across the South.  What makes L.C. King so unusual is they are still in operation today.

I had no idea there was still a jeans company still making jeans in the US, especially not one a short drive away.  But thanks to The American List located at A Continuous Lean, I found out about the company, and proceeded to invite myself over for a look around.

What an experience!  Though I write about clothing history, and live deep in textile country, I had never been in a clothing manufacturing plant.  I was amazed by so much, especially by the mix of the old and new, by tradition and computer-age technology.

The photo above shows the original building, built in 1913 by Landon Clayton King.  The factory was later enlarged to the size they have today.

I was met by the plant manager, Marinda, who took me around and showed me the operation.  She explained not only the process of making the products, but also told me about the company.

Things like, why the company’s brand name, Pointer, comes from a dog.  Well, Mr. King loved his bird dogs, especially Carolina Jack, who became the model for the company’s logo and advertising posters.  The old sign above hangs in the factory.  And you still get Carolina Bill’s likeness on every pointer product.

And this is Jack – Jack King, that is, the owner and fourth generation King to run Pointer Brands. He was working, filling orders.  One thing I learned, everyone works hard in a clothing manufacturing plant.

This is the original office of the company in the oldest part of the building..  Today, this is the pattern making room, a process Ill show in tomorrow’s post.   You can barely see LC King on the wall on the far wall.

Above the pattern room is the cutting room.  It runs for most of the depth of the original building.  The denim is stretched out on the long tables in an many as 42 layers.

And here is a view of one of the sewing rooms.  There is a room for dungarees and overalls, and another room for jackets.

In tomorrow’s post I’ll show a bit of the process of cutting and sewing the garments.  In the meantime, you should check out the Pointer Brand website.  It’s incredible to see a site where almost everything is made in the US.  The only imported product is one ball cap.  Also the denim itself is made in South Carolina, with the exception of the Fisher Stripe.  Unfortunately, they could no longer source it in the US, and so it has to be imported.

Here’s another look at the handsome Carolina Bill.



Filed under Made in the USA, Road Trip, Textiles

A Real Vintage Treasure Hunt

I’m not talking about the Fortuny in the photo above.  That Fortuny was found by my friend Tiffany of Pinky-a-GoGo Vintage at an estate sale.  That estate was the stuff dreams are made of, and as you might have guessed, I’m still a little envious even though that find was over three years ago!

This month’s Outside magazine has a fascinating article about a man who makes his living hunting down vintage denim in the western US.  And I mean hunting in every sense of the word.  The article tells how he tracks down leads and is undaunted even by hissing snakes in wells and such places.  (Yes, you really DO need to read the article!)

At  first all I could think about was how crazy he seemed, to be so determined to find vintage denim that he would actually put his life in danger.  But then I realized that most vintage hunters, and collectors in general do face all kinds of places that are not exactly pleasant.  I’ve been to some estate sales that should have been called “dump” sales, and the Goodwill Clearance center I’ve become so fond of isn’t exactly a paradise either.  So what makes us go to such lengths in search of the good stuff?


I’m guessing that it is the lure of the possibility.  I know that part of my attraction to the clearance bins is that I have seen the couture Dior that was pulled from them.  And if I saw one of those little round Fortuny boxes on the other side of a snake pit, I think I could come up with a way to get to it unscathed.  After all, I have seen all the Indiana Jones movies, and surely I’ve learned something from them!


Posted by Couture Allure:

Great article! Thanks for sharing it! 

Friday, January 16th 2009 @ 4:45 AM

Posted by Stacey Brooks Newton:

I thought Fortunys were the stuff of legend and museums… To think there are still some out in the wild!
Really funny story about the thrift store stalking… I’ve definitely been on both ends of that experience:) 

Saturday, January 17th 2009 @ 9:47 AM

Posted by pinky-a-gogo:

I want to be a denim hunter! Great article! 

Tuesday, January 20th 2009 @ 3:27 AM

Posted by Lizzie:

Ha! Tiffany, so do I. We can be the Indiana Joneses of the vintage industry. 

Tuesday, January 20th 2009 @ 3:21 PM

Leave a comment

Filed under Shopping