Tag Archives: L C King

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.

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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.

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Filed under Made in the USA, Road Trip, Textiles