Make Your Sewing Pattern Weights 11 Ways

Hi there!
Irene from Serger Pepper here! How is your sewing machine? Did you clean it from the last time we met? And did you make a bag for your laptop? Or maybe you've been too busy choosing your first serger

Today we're here to talk about a sewing tool I didn't use for a lot of time (my mom still looks at me weird when I say I'm not using pins… whaaat?):

Pattern Weights

What are pattern weights? Exactly what their name says!

They can be any heavy object, better if not too fragile or spiky, absolutely not sphere-shaped 🙂

They are used, just like pins, to keep the pattern pieces stuck to the fabric while you cut it, to make sure you're cutting as accurately as you can.

Let me show you my unconventional pattern weights:

You can see I use almost anything to weight down my paper pattern pieces: I have a DIY hubby who made me some cool metal chunks, but I often use beer cans, cat food, soybeans filled jars, rolls of elastic, stones, grandma's cutlery silverware, food tins, drinking glasses…… as I said: anything goes!

I often say I should make some cute ones like the ones listed down below but… too many things to do and not enough time is my mantra!

Pattern weights Pros Vs. Pins

  • much faster to put on and to remove
  • making little adjustments (like when you are aligning your pattern to the fabric grainline) is easier and faster
  • they don't leave holes on the pattern pieces, making them last longer
  • they don't leave marks on delicate fabrics
  • they don't bunch the fabric as pins do, making easier for you to cut fabric true to the pattern piece
  • you can't ruin the blade of your scissors by accidentally trying to cut pins

Pattern weights Cons Vs. Pins

  • they work best paired with rotary cutter and mat: sometimes it's hard to slip the scissors below the fabric and still keep pattern weights holding the pattern down!
  • … I really can't find other Cons… can you spot others? Please add your experience in the comments section!

 A couple of side notes about pattern weights:

When using thicker fabrics, choose heavier pattern weights, or the whole thing won't work!

Depending on the pattern (simple shape or full of details) and the fabric (thin slippery jersey vs. stable quilting cotton) I'm using, I sometimes decide to place all the pattern pieces on the fabric and then pin them all around before I cut them.

This makes the process faster because I can rapidly check that I have enough fabric for my project (really useful when you're refashioning old clothes instead of buying yardages from the bolt!), then go ahead to accurately transfer marking to the fabric.

When I need to trace darts or other marks, I prefer having my pattern pieces perfectly attached to the fabric, until I'm done.

No-sew ideas to make your pattern weights

Before we start: each pattern weight link will take you to the original ‘Pin'.
This is so you can follow through to read them now, if you like, or re-pin them if you prefer to check them later. 

Pocket Change Quarters Crocheted Pattern Weights – The Zen of Making

These are probably my favorite: I've crocheted for a big part of my childhood, and I love that they're filled with coins!

 From Magnets and Bottle caps – Condo Blues

Interesting that these are made in two pieces (one with a magnet)… not sure how I would use them: If I know me, if I separate the two parts I will almost certainly lose one of them!

Heavy-duty, inexpensive and cute from washers and scraps – Vanilla Joy

This is the way most sewers make their pattern weights: with washers!

Sewn Pattern Weights DIY

Pretty Washer and Buttons Pattern Weights – Sew Sensational

Another way to use washers, sewn by hand

Sew Sensational - Pattern weights from washers and buttons

Ribbon Finger Handles Pattern Weights – Sew Can She

These are pretty fun: ribbon is added on top, so you can slip your fingers on to grab pattern weights!

Heat and Bond Reverse Applique BBs Pattern Weights – The Experimental Home

Cool and embellished with a reverse applique these pattern weights may be a cool handmade gift (with a coordinated drawstring bag) for any sewer… I would love to receive them, sadly I don't know anyone who may think to make them for me, in my “real” life!!

The Experimental Home - Reverse applique BBs pattern weights

Long & Narrow BBs strips – Rusty Bobbin

Maybe not cute… but with a smart shape, these pattern weights can be used to secure down weird-shaped pattern pieces: you can fold them to follow pattern corners!

Not originally supposed to be Pattern Weight, but…

This last section puts together a few ideas that will do great as pattern weights, just use a heavy filling (BBs or gravel are great… sand would be too, but it's not that handy!)

Little Chicken Pyramid Bean Bags – Glue Stick Blog FREE PDF pattern

Aren't they simply divine?

Easy Heat Pad DIY, perfect for beginners – Serger Pepper

Try with this tutorial, if you've never created a pouch to be filled… it's for my easy heat pad but, working on different measurements (I would make them narrower), you can make great pattern weights with it!

Glass Gems Pattern Weights from the dollar store – Sew Fearless

This is a no-brainer! These glass gems are a genius hack… just be sure you don't get the spherical ones!

Interested in more Pattern weights DIY?

You could follow my Pinterest Board entirely dedicated to pattern weights!

And you? What do you use for pattern weights? Let us know!

See you next time,

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Hi! I'm Irene "MammaNene" and I blog about anything sewing on Serger Pepper. I love designing my own patterns, I have a thing for refashions and I am Pinterest addicted! My favorite sewing muse is my almost 6 years old daughter... but sometimes I sew for me too!

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32 Responses to Make Your Sewing Pattern Weights 11 Ways

  1. Terry says:

    I looked on Amazon for glass paperweights. I have a few that are domed shaped and I like them quite a bit. However, when I looked at Amazon, there was a hint on the side for a suggested item. Washers such as: 40 Qty 3/8″ x 1-1/2″ 304 Stainless Steel Fender Washers (SNG565) for $9.99. That is 25 cents apiece. Plenty to stack and either cover with fabric, or crochet as shown for the quarters and washers above. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I would rather a $.25 washer than a quarter. LOL

  2. Paula Priaulx says:

    I have a few nice shaped tiles, used to make those fabulous Late 1800’s bathroom floors or fancy front porch. I’ve glued felt to the bottom after cleaning up and sanding off any rough bits. I also use glass paperweights. A few years back I was given some flowers that included a heart shaped helium balloon that was weighed down with a small cellophane covered concrete bell. It also makes a great fabric weight. I keep thinking “I must paint or cover that”, but never get around to doing it.

  3. marycr8on says:

    I have a collection of glass ash trays, glass paperweights and glass coasters. I can put the paperweights in the ash trays and coasters and have heavier weights too. No one smokes anymore so those ash trays ended up in my sewing room. They also do double duty as a quick place to put pins or clips when I’m sewing.

  4. Kathy Stringham says:

    I haven’t used pins in years. If your husband is a fisherman hit the tackle box and get those lead weights out. I have a lot of the lead weights for my sewing. I keep them in a coffee can. dip in, get one out. place on pattern where needed. Just have to be careful I don’t put my fingers under the can when setting it down on my table.

  5. Suzanne says:

    My favorite way to make pattern weights is using fender washers from the hardware store. I like the ones that are about 2.5″ in diameter and I buy them by the handful; they’re very inexpensive. I make stacks of them (4-6) and stick them together with hot glue. With my pinking scissors, I “eyeball” and cut a square-ish piece of scrap fabric big enough that I can put the stack in the middle, pull the edges up over the top and scrunch or twist them together, making a “handle” about inch or so high. I secure this little handle with hot glue and tie around it with a piece of skinny ribbon, or twine, or string – whatever I have handy. They take only moments to make, are pretty and quite durable. They’re also quite heavy – which I prefer, and end up being not too big or too small.
    As a quilter, I don’t consider them to have any “cons” as I already have cutting mats and rolling cutters. But everybody is different and not everyone has these tools so using weights won’t work the same for everyone. I use pins for lots of things, but when cutting out patterns, weights rule! I love them.

    p.s. to both quilters and sewists – when working with longer lengths of fabric, some of which might hang over the side of your table, pattern weights are wonderful for preventing the part you’re working with from being pulled off.

  6. Betsy Ann P Maddox says:

    Need full figure patterns

  7. Mea Cadwell says:

    I made a stuffed peacock pincushion (8 inches tall) with 6 tail “feathers”. Each feather was made in two pieces (the “eye” and the rest of the feather) and are fully removable. Everything is held together with rare earth magnets.

    Each feather piece is a pattern weight / pin cushion.

    When put together it does weigh a bit but he is so darned cute! (Wish I could share a picture)

    I gave the peacock the pretentious name of “Cesario”. lol

    • Trish Rugg says:

      Mea Cadwell, do you remember where you got the pattern for the stuffed peacock pincushion? I am very interested in making one myself

  8. Bridget. says:

    Why do the links only go to Pinterest? Some of us aren’t on Pinterest or would rather go directly to the source.

  9. Lori Knechtel says:

    Super idea. This prevents holes in the patterns due to pinning.

  10. Patricia Pfeiffer says:

    IF, and that’s a big IF, I make some pattern weights, I think those little chickens are the cutest! I do like using weights better than pins, but usually grab small cans of food–tuna, small portions of beans, etc. IF, and probably WHEN I get around to making weights I have ground walnut shells I bought to weigh down pin cushions. I could only get it from a pet supply store in a large bag. Anything dry and heavy will work–rice, beans, bb’s, aquarium gravel. You could use plaster of Paris molded in jar lids, or other sturdy containers. Leave it in the container, don’t try to get it out. If you want artsy weights, you could mold them from polymer clay, but that gets you into an art project, and I think pattern weight projects should be quick and cheap, utilitarian rather than extremely decorative. The long skinny tubes are very good to follow curved areas of patterns, like necklines, arm scythes, etc.

  11. Susie Henderson says:

    I use empty perfume bottles! They are often much too pretty to throw out and are easy to pick up..

  12. OrahLee Hoose says:

    I grew up using table knives when laying out patterns on satin or brocade fabrics.
    The handles weigh a fair amount and there are no pin holes. When needed we even got out the “good” silver knives… When finished, storage isn’t a problem – – back into the drawer!
    OL. 🙂

  13. Jean says:

    Some really great ideas here and all much prettier than the hockey pucks I’ve used. But there is a con to any of the weights and especially some of the smaller ones, for me. Cats. Need I say more? 🙂

  14. B.B says:

    could I use rice for the weight ?

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      I certainly can’t see why not. Sounds like a good idea!

      • B.B says:

        I used fabric wine bags that are very pretty and rice and for the small ones I used the little fabric jewelry pouches with rice. It was easy and worked great.

  15. hatlady1962 says:

    I use clay coasters. There are always a couple odd ones at yard sales.

  16. Karol says:

    I’ve used 2 of the large washers glued together as one, as a pattern weight for nearly 40 years. They aren’t cute or decorated but serve the purpose. I have a whole bunch of them, just tied together with a piece of faux leather thru the holes to keep them together in the drawer.

    • I think washers are the most used weights, but your idea is new to me and really smart! There is always something wandering in my drawers, organizing is a must!
      Thanks for sharing, Karl!
      Irene
      Serger Pepper

  17. Kerrrie says:

    I use washers, ones that are the size of the palm of my hand. I picked them up at the hardware store for less than $2 each. I have four. Sometimes I wish I had smaller ones. I still may get a couple littler ones for skinnier patterns, but for now, these work great.

    • Irene Valle says:

      Yes, Kerry, I agree: huge washers are perfect for this purpose and really cost-effective!
      I am not sure that the smaller one would work great, because of their reduced weight… Maybe you can hunt small but heavy objects around your house, think it like a non-conventional easter egg-hunt 😉

  18. Cucicucicoo says:

    I actually really like the idea of the magnetic 2-piece ones! Part of the reason I’ve never really used pattern weights much is because they move around when cutting the fabric. This way the pattern would stay positioned better! Great roundup, Irene! 🙂 Lisa

    • Irene Valle says:

      Thanks Lisa!
      Glad to hear you like thie idea: I’ve found it cool and I had to share, I had never seen anyone using pattern magnets and I thought I had to share!

      • Condo Blues says:

        Sometimes I put the fabric in between the magnetic weights. Most of the time I plunk the whole thing on top of my pattern and fabric and cut away!

  19. mizzsmartypants says:

    I use the larger size glass gems that my daughter and I had painted the flat side of at some point in the past with the intention of turning into magnets. I found them in a ziploc bag waiting for the magnet to be added and decided I liked them better as fabric weights. The cute little designs make me happy. I need to commission more!

What do you think?