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Tools of the Trade: Pattern Weights

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.

30 responses to “Tools of the Trade: Pattern Weights


I was just thinking about making some felted rocks for pattern weights, but these look much easier (and I don’t have to dig in the snow for rocks).

The latter photo look more like mine. I inherited my grandma’s set that my grandpa swiped for her from his machine shop (same grandma as in the recent post actually.) I much prefer the pretties!

Deinya Mautz

I do not use metal nuts and similar items as they are often coated with protective seals and oils which can transfer to cloth even when enclosed in several layers of fabric, much less quilting fabric. Using weight such as yours (peas, rice, etc) is a better choice. Some people use sand, but sand can leach out of the seams, requiring several layers of fabric to avoid leaks. Your visual display is quite nice.


When I was a little/young girl, my mother used butter knives to weigh down the pattern. I grew up doing it also, because my mom did, and I thought everyone did it this way! I made all of my clothes, and my kids clothes this way. I was at Joann’s once, waiting in line behind a young lady who was buying a bunch of the expensive weights. I told her my knife story, and she put down the weights and went to a thrift store to buy some knives……lol. I never had a problem using them with plain old scissors. The little weight pouches are much cuter, though!!


I liked your idea so much I made lots of them in four different colors. I used them to help schedule shifts where I work. When I put the weights on a poster-board sized graph it was easy to see if all the shifts were covered and who was working them. What usually takes me a couple of hours to do with paper and pencil the little sewing weights took care of in about 10 minutes! Yay! Thanks so much!


Thanks for this idea! Here’s mine but I added ribbon so I could hang them from a hook to keep them out of the way when I’m not using them. What a great solution!


I took the largest washers I could find and glued two together, then wrapped decorative ribbon around them and glued the end so it would stay on. You could also do this with strips of fabric instead of ribbon. Are the weights in this tutorial heavy?

The weights in the tutorial are not as heavy as what you describe. They’re only as heavy as the handful of beans/sand that you use. But they’re heavy enough to keep the pattern still while cutting, and that’s the goal!


Great idea! I am going to make these for my sister! She is a great crafter and these will make her smile while she’s doing the “boring” part of cutting out patterns!


2 inch washers work well for weights too. i glued 2 together probably 25 years or so ago and have been using them ever since. i used a selvedge torn off some fabric and looped thru the holes and tied in a bow between uses to keep them together in the drawer.


Ladies, you are brilliant! I’ve always pinned. I never thought about weighting my patterns down! Butter knives, nuts, washers… I can’t believe I haven’t thought of this before!!
I LOVE the beanbags though, and I’m about to make some. I’ll make sets for my sewing friends, but I’m also going to make super cute ones for little ones and stuff them with a variety of materials for a fun sensory experience: beans, rice, crinkly plastic bags etc!
Thanks for the great idea!

Janetta Foster

I’ve made something similar, but I used ground Walnut hulls. You can buy it at any large pet store. It’s also called bird litter. About $10 for a 6 or 7 lb bag. Works wonderful in pin cushions too!!!

Bravooooo! Thank you for sharing this tutorial. I will make some before the weekend is done. Yessss! 🙂

Oh, and love your blog theme and format. Made my day.



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