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Tools of the Trade: Pattern Weights

Tools of the Trade: Pattern Weights
February 17, 2010 Mary Jo

I’m an absolute stickler for pinning when at the sewing machine, and confidently assert that it’s not negotiable if you value good craftsmanship and your time.  But pinning patterns to fabric when cutting out the pattern pieces?  Waste of time.  Because I’ve got pattern weights.  And now you can, too.

They’re really nothing more than (pretty) pyramidal bean bags.  Place them atop gossamer-tissued pattern pieces laid out for cutting on your fabric and give the pins a rest.  Take the time you save to give yourself a wink in the mirror for being so clever.  Mild disclaimer:   I do all of my cutting with a rotary cutter and self-healing mat, so I can’t speak to the weights’ usefulness when cutting out with scissors.  Might not work so well.

Here’s how you make your own.  While you’re at it, you might as well make something to store them in, right?

Assemble the following materials:

+  scrap of fabric cut to  5 1/2″ x 15″  (makes 5 weights)

+  filler material: dried rice, beans, etc.  I had lots of split peas on hand.

+  a lovely teacup and saucer, if you desire

+  glue for teacup – E6000 or Quick Grip should work well


1. Fold the fabric in half the long way, right sides together.  Your piece is roughly now 2 1/2″ by 15.”  Sew each of the 3 open sides closed with a 1/4″ seam allowance.

2. Cut into 5 equal pieces by measuring every 3.” Each piece will be roughly 2 1/2 by 3.”

3.  The first and last piece will already be sewn shut on one end.  Set aside and sew the remaining 3 pieces shut on one end also.

4.  Turn right side out and fill with the rice, beans, etc.

5.  Fold the open ends inside 1/4″ and pin the seam closed, making sure that the seam runs perpendicular to the bottom seam.  You’re not trying to make a rectangular pillow, but rather a sort of pyramid that’s easier to grab.

6.  Sew shut, either by hand or by machine.  If you go the machine route, you might have to remove some of the filling to fit it under your presser foot flatly.  I chose to practice my blanket stitch and did them by hand pretty quickly.

7.  Glue the teacup to the saucer, creating a lovely platform to house your weights.

Wouldn’t this make a lovely gift for a sewing friend?  If tea’s not your thing, sew a pouch with complimentary fabric, put them in a pretty bowl….

+++  If all this is too much work for you, go raid the junk drawer or hardware store for some heavy-duty nuts.  I’ve been using these, taped together, with much success, though I look forward to upgrading to the lovely tea set.


The rest of the Tools of the Trade series is here.

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