In 2015 one of my mom’s friends loaned me her pattern weights. They were a mix of store-bought washer style (encased in yellow plastic) and plain washers. Previously I been using lots of pins to secure my patterns to my fabric, and whatever weighty items were handy to hold my fabrics in place while cutting. This includes small food cans, wrist weights, scissors, (maybe this why I could never find my scissors), rolls of masking tape… pretty much anything was fair game. Pattern weights are so much more convenient than pins and random objects and I’ve wanted to make my own set ever since I returned that set.
A quick web search will reveal that there are several styles of homemade pattern weights. When I was cutting 2.5” fabric squares for The Glorified Scrap Basket, I recalled that I needed 3” fabric squares for a pattern weights project. Seemed like the perfect time to try out the Sewing 201: Pattern Weights tutorial by Caroline at SewCanShe.com.
The online tutorial and downloadable PDF for this project are available here:
Note this pattern is for personal use only.
Here are my thoughts on this project.
The tutorial beings with some photos, a description of Caroline’s motivation for creating the tutorial and some reasons why we should be using them. Next is a note about the materials you will need to create 12 pattern weights.
Step 0 Gather your materials.
I used a 3” square template to help me identify fabric scraps big enough for this project when I was cutting squares for the Glorified Scrap Basket.
- Cardstock template & fabric squares
I got a bit carried away cutting squares and ended up with enough to make 16 pattern weights (have about a dozen extras for the my next Glorified Scrap Basket too). I also had some 1” wide Jacquard ribbon left over from making Yoga Mat Strap Wraps. The patterns on the Jacquard ribbon didn’t match with all of my fabric squares so I opted to omit the ribbon handles from some of my pattern weights.
Step 1 Pin
Once you’ve selected which fabric squares and decided will be the tops and which will be the bottoms, pin your layers together. I pinned my Jacquard ribbon to the tops then pinned the tops and bottoms together, right sides together.
Step 2 Sew
The tutorial instructs us to dogleg the stitches adjacent to the gap. It really did make it easier to turn such small pieces.
Unfortunately I wasn’t much more precise with cutting my 3” squares for this project than for cutting my 2.5” squares for the Glorified Scrap Basket. Fortunately this project is more forgiving of slightly imperfect squares.
Step 3 Fill
Caroline used 2 tablespoons of rice to fill each of her pattern weights. I purchased the cheapest rice from the bulk food section of my grocery store especially for this project (long grain white rice $0.25 / 100 g). Two level tablespoons of this rice weighs ~ 32 g.
A funnel comes in handy to fill the pattern weights. Initially I filled them with 2 level tablespoons of rice, but I found that heaped tablespoons worked better. Make sure you leave enough room to sew the gaps closed.
Step 4 Close
You can sew the turning/filling gap closed with your sewing machine. I didn’t want my stitching to be visible so I opted to sew the gaps closed by hand instead of changing my top and bottom threads multiple times. The rice seemed to have settled between when I filled my pattern weights and when I sewed the gaps. I did add an extra ¼ tsp of rice to some of them. Do keep in mind that overfilling will make it harder to sew the gaps closed and harder to slip a finger under the ribbon handles.
Most of my fabric squares were quilting weight cotton (some with interfacing, some without), but there were also some light weight cotton (with interfacing), polyester and home décor fabric. Between the difference fabric weights and omitting the ribbon from some, the weights of each of my pattern weight varied. The lightest one is 33 g and heaviest one is 42 g. Most weight between 35 g and 37 g and the average weight is 37 g. The 16 pattern weights weigh a total of 592 g (LOL…Guess I didn’t need to buy 1.8 kg of rice), which is a decent weight for holding patterns and fabrics together and on your tabletop.
Here are some photos of my rice-filled pattern weights.
I am curious to know how this weight compares to metal washer pattern weights. Maybe I’ll have to make some of them too.
I enjoy making practical things and these pattern weights are no exception. They come together quickly (especially if your sew the gaps with your sewing machine) and are so handy to have around. They would also make a great gift for sewers who don’t already have some. I’m looking forward to making a matched set of these for someone special.
Have you made or used pattern weights? If so, which style do you prefer? Comment below and/or Pin me for later!