Today we’re going a little crafty with 3 different ways to make DIY pattern weights.
I don’t remember when I made the shift to using pattern weights, but it was a good day. Using weights to hold down your pattern pieces while you’re cutting saves a lot of time vs. pinning.
And while you can buy plain pattern weights like these ones, making your own pattern weights is a cheap DIY project. When you’re done, you’ll have a set of pattern weights that’ll brighten up your sewing room to boot.
So here are 3 different ways to make DIY pattern weights. Pick your favorite and make up a little collection!
Ribbon wrapped fabric weights
One of the easiest DIY pattern weights you can make is by jazzing up some plain washers.
Large washers work well for all-purpose weights, and you can buy them individually or a large box of 25 for about $10.
Be sure to get some smaller sized washers too. Smaller sized washers work better for pattern weights on narrow pieces like facings and collars.
To make your ribbon wrapped weights, first stack 2-3 washers on top of each other. I’ve found 2 is totally adequate, but 3 is an extra heavy duty weight.
Next, anchor the end of your ribbon to the top of one of the washers with a dab of hot glue. My friend Kathi goes a step further in making a little loop with the end of the ribbon to make the weights easy to pick up.
After that wrap the surface of the metal completely with your ribbon. Go in through the hole and around the circle. Finish off the weight with another dab of hot glue to hold the ribbon in place.
Other things to wrap your weights with
If you don’t have ribbon on hand, you can use just about anything to cover your weights. Yarn, bias tape, foldover elastic and piping are all good choices. You can even cut up strips of scrap fabric and use that. Ric rac is another option!
Whatever you use, try to make up your wrapped weights in a variety of colors. A nice array will add some joy while you’re cutting your next project!
Yoyo fabric weights
Another way to make pattern weights is with fabric yoyos.
Find some great scraps and cut circles from them that are at least 1″ bigger than your washers.
After that, cut two small circles of felt the size of your washers. Make a stack of two washers. Next hot glue a felt circle on the top and bottom of your washer stack. Set aside the washers.
From there, make up a yoyo. See here how to make a fabric yoyo.
Before you close up the yoyo and tie it off in the center, pop the washers inside the yoyo. Gather the center and tie a knot to finish your yoyo.
Tada! Pretty yoyo fabric weights.
Clay cupcake pattern weights
This is a more crafty solution for making your own pattern weights, but it’s a lot of fun.
Warm up some polymer clay in your hand. That’s the kind of clay you can bake. It comes in little plastic wrapped packages in craft stores.
Fimo or Sculpey are both good brands I’ve used before.
Make the cupcake sides
Make a ball of clay. You can use a solid color or mix a few colors together for a custom blend as I’m doing here.
Push a piece of the clay into the sides of a mini muffin tin. I’m using a vintage tartlet mold, but a small muffin tin works just as well.
Fill the “cupcake” bottom with small hex nuts. These are the weights that’ll give the cupcake some heft. Three or four nuts make for a good weight since the clay itself has some weight to it.
Adding “cake” to your pattern weights
Make a small ball of dough in another color. Lightly press it over the top of the weights so that they are covered. Use the clay to fill in any gaps on the inside of the pattern weight.
Add the decorations
Roll out a little snake of clay with your hands. Twist it on top of your cupcake to look like frosting.
You could also top off a cupcake weight with a small ball of clay for a cherry. Other options are to cut tiny sprinkles from several colors. You can get marbled effects for decorations by mixing 2 or more colors of clay. Knead the colors so that the color is not mixed thoroughly. From there you can cut tiny sprinkles with the tip of a pastry tip.
When you’re done, bake your cupcakes on a sheet tray according to the directions on the package. The Sculpey III that I’m using recommends baking at 275 degrees F for 15 minutes per 1/4″ of thickness. I baked my cupcakes for 1 hour and that was perfect!
Finished clay should feel dry and firm to the touch.
When the cupcakes are finished, pull them out of the oven and let them cool completely. After that, they should pop out of the molds and you’ve got a happy little pattern weight!
So those are 3 different ways you can make your own custom pattern weights. You’ll get through your cutting faster using pattern weights and you’ll enjoy the added color they add to your life!
More great sewing room tools to check out:
Elizabeth Farr is the writer behind the Elizabeth Made This blog where she shares helpful sewing tips, step by step sewing tutorials and videos to help you explore your creativity through sewing. She has written sewing Eguides and patterns, been a featured teacher at Rebecca Page’s Sewing Summit and Jennifer Maker’s Holiday Maker Fest and her work has appeared in Seamwork and Altered Couture magazines. She also created a line of refashioned garments for SEWN Denver. When her sewing machine isn’t humming, she’s playing and teaching violin, and hanging around a good strategic board game with her husband and 4 kids.