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Pattern Weights

January 23rd, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

Dawn, of Two On, Two Off, mentioned After the Dress in her post today, where there is an interesting post about pattern weights. My weights are the crudest, simplest ones available:


Yep, just giant washers from my local hardware store. For years, I’ve meant to cover them with Ultrasuede in a rainbow of colors, but now that they live on a pegboard, that’s not going to happen, because this is the easiest, most accessible way to store them ever:


After the Dress has an amusing list of things people use for weights, but what surprised me most is that a lot of people use weights only with rotary cutters. Not me!

Of course, I’m not a quilter, and I tend to think of a rotary cutter as being most useful for cutting long strips of fabric for strip quilting or bindings. I’ve used my Olfa for rectangular cutting on occasion, but never really gotten comfortable with it. The control my various scissors offer just works best for me.

So I use my weights exclusively with scissors. After years of practice, I get no distortion at all, but I’m also careful not to use the weights near the cutting edge. Instead, I place them at least an inch (and probably closer to two inches) from where my scissor blade will go.

I use a LOT of weights, too, spacing them evenly across the pattern piece, using different sizes depending on whether the area to cut is large or smaller. Then, as I cut, I put my other hand flat against the fabric right next to where I’m cutting.

This method works much better for me than pinning knit fabric, where inevitably there’s a slight shift as the scissors move from the point where a pin is to the area adjacent, where there isn’t one for a small distance.

I regularly use pattern weights for knits, but find them really indispensable for anything silky. Nothing keeps slippery material from shifting like a few ounces (or even pounds) of strategically placed metal.

After the Dress also mentions Peacock Chic’s pack of adorable owl weights, which wouldn’t be very convenient to store, but would be great to have cheering you on while you work!

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  1. January 27th, 2009 at 13:46 | #1

    I’ve been using these large washers for years, and love them – they are great no matter what you are cutting out! I spray painted mine in shiny hot pink probably 10 years ago, and they stayed in great shape until the last year when my little grandson discovered them. I keep them in a fabric covered box I aquired somewhere along the say as it keeps things from “clinking”.


    • January 28th, 2009 at 08:03 | #2

      I love the idea of spray painting them! I see lots of possibilities there . . .

  2. January 26th, 2009 at 14:47 | #3

    Great idea! I sometimes used canned goods, but they’re often too big and too bulky. I blogged your tip at Craft Gossip sewing blog:

    • January 28th, 2009 at 08:02 | #4

      Thanks for letting me know, Anne. I’m going to keep an eye on Craft Gossip; it looks like a lot of fun!

  3. January 23rd, 2009 at 11:05 | #5

    I use those big washers too. I was going to replace them with “real” pattern weights, but when I saw the real ones, I decided my hardware washers were better. I do use the rotary cutter exclusively for cutting out. I never learned to cut out with scissors. Nor did I ever learn to pin pattern pieces on fabric. It’s always just weights and rotary cutters for me.

    • January 23rd, 2009 at 13:10 | #6

      I’m impressed, Betty! I can’t even imagine being well-coordinated enough to do everything with a rotary cutter!

  1. February 13th, 2010 at 00:29 | #1