top tip: budget friendly pattern weights

Pattern weights are awesome. Fact. They’re quicker than pinning and they don’t tear your tissue patterns or leave pin holes in delicate fabrics. (They’re especially useful for tracing patterns).  My jaw nearly hit the floor when I saw what Dritz were charging for 4 pattern weights on Amazon recently. £30+ !!! Seriously Dritz! WTF!?

These are my pattern weights…

Pattern Weights

I’ve used them for several years and they cost me a big fat £0. They are lead curtain weights, also known as penny weights (they’re actually the size of a 2p piece so I presume the reference relates to the OLD penny). They cost me nothing because I harvested them from the hems of some old curtains that I was using for another project. That said, they’re pretty inexpensive to buy. (Seriously Dritz?! £30 for pattern weights??)

Pattern Weights

I wanted some larger pattern weights so I’ve also ordered some giant washers from Amazon. (Couldn’t get ’em locally sadly). Also super cheap.  I guess the moral is, most particularly if you’re new to sewing, don’t be fooled by all the tools and gadgets that manufacturers dangle in front of you to tempt you to part with your cash. They’re almost always a cheaper alternative! MUCH cheaper (Dritz, I’m looking at you. Yes you! ).

More or less anything with a smooth flat base will do as a pattern weight.  (I’m secretly considering these gorgeous slate pieces) Experienced sewers…what do you use as pattern weights?

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42 Comments

  1. Laura March 6, 2015

    I managed to get a set of 6 lovely glass weights from my local charity shop for the princely sum of £3!! £30 is ridiculous and you’re right, it’s so easy in the beginning to get sucked into buying all The Stuff.

    Reply
    • portia March 6, 2015

      Ah a kindred charity shop spirit Laura!

      Reply
  2. Vicky Gorry March 6, 2015

    Great idea – thanks for checking out the prices and sharing. With one of the Great British Sewing Bee favouring weights over pins, it’s good to know that we don’t have to fork out so much, even when our lovely daughter, just beginning to sew, suggests they’re a good idea!

    Reply
    • portia March 6, 2015

      Ah you’re welcome Vicky. Just couldn’t believe what a rip off they were!

      Reply
  3. Jennifer Lachman March 6, 2015

    I love how the look like buttons. I bought a set of pattern weights from JoAnne’s once but the were to light so I went back to using coffee mugs.

    Reply
    • portia March 6, 2015

      Empty ones I hope Jennifer, lol! I’ve done that before!

      Reply
  4. I don’t use weights for cutting fabric – I don’t have a rotary cutter – but I have vintage weights (the type that were used to balance old fashioned scales) that I use when I trace. My mum actually gave me them to use when making summer pudding, but they are used in sewing far more often!!! I’d love to get some more.

    Reply
    • portia March 6, 2015

      I have a couple of those Helen, that I use to stop my roll of pattern paper rolling back on itself. They’re looking a bit worse for wear now and I can’t decide whether to paint them or not because they’d lose a bit of their authenticity I guess. Px

      Reply
  5. Lara March 6, 2015

    I love using pattern weights rather than pins. I picked up some flat-ish stones from the beach and painted them with pretty patterns (https://dreamingofavonlea.wordpress.com/2014/03/15/an-update-on-some-rocks/)

    Reply
    • portia March 6, 2015

      Even better! We rarely come back from the beach without a pocket full of stones:)

      Reply
  6. V Reed March 7, 2015

    I use a double stack of large flat washers that I’ve wrapped in ribbon. I get the weight I need and it looks pretty too!

    Reply
    • portia March 7, 2015

      I’ve seen that on pinterest. Looks pretty 🙂

      Reply
      • V Reed March 7, 2015

        It’s super easy to do and a good way to use up stash ribbon while having tea and some TV. The only down side is my kids think they are the best toys ever while I am trying to cut something out!

        Reply
        • portia March 8, 2015

          Ha ha 🙂 I can imagine! Px

          Reply
  7. Linda March 7, 2015

    i use tins of whatever food is in the pantry! Have been meaning to raid my husbands workshop for heavy washers, however 🙂

    Reply
    • portia March 7, 2015

      Do it Linda…he won’t notice 😉

      Reply
  8. Jeanie March 7, 2015

    Have you thought about covering them in some pretty fabric? I’d probably try to avoid handling pieces of lead directly. Although, I really don’t know whether curtain weights actually contain lead, so I could be entirely wrong! They look like they do a good job!

    Reply
  9. Imogheena Farandel March 7, 2015

    Yikes, that’s a lot for something it’s easy to create out of almost anything.

    Once I got hooked on using weights instead of pins, for a while every time I went to the hardware store I picked up a packet of large washers. Eventually I had enough for my needs. Then I had to find a pretty container to put them in. An anniversary tin for Spotlight (Australia’s fabric, crafts and home furnishings chain store) did the trick.

    But now I’m looking at those slate ones from Amazon… (Or beach rocks, but I think they’d be too soft – break down into powder too easily. Darn!)

    Reply
    • portia March 7, 2015

      That slate is lovely isn’t it! Px

      Reply
  10. Caroline March 7, 2015

    This is such a good Idea! Now, I wonder what the word washers would be in Swedish…. Could you tell me what washers are used for? I will try to find some locally so I need to figure out what kind of shop to go to.

    Reply
  11. Elisabeth March 7, 2015

    I use tape dispenser, mobile phone and whatever else I have nearby. I have considered getting something else, but cheap.

    Reply
  12. Tialys March 7, 2015

    I notice one of the contestants on the Great British Sewing Bee uses small flattish pebbles as pattern weights. I use several antique flatirons that I have as home décor for large pattern pieces but smaller ones would be good too for the fiddlier bits.

    Reply
  13. Kelly March 7, 2015

    When we were moving house, I noticed my husband’s socket wrench set was a perfect set of pattern weights. They come in various sizes so they have small ones for fiddly areas and they are heavy for their size. He rarely uses them so they live in my sewing room.

    Reply
  14. JJ March 9, 2015

    The other day I used my 2 1/2 year old son’s wooden train tracks for pattern weights. He came along and said, “Those are mine!” I said, “Yes, you can’t use them right now, I’m almost through.” He still managed to sneak one or two off before I finished. :o)

    JJ
    http://www.dressupnotdown.blogspot.com

    Reply
    • portia March 10, 2015

      Great idea! Darn it though, just sold Elliott’s track so he could buy more lego. Not so weighty, lego bricks, lol! Px

      Reply
  15. Camilla March 10, 2015

    I use pebbles I collected from the beach. They sit in a handmade bowls on the mantle piece and are decorative as well as practical. I also use coasters as they happen to be on the dining room table.

    Reply
    • portia March 11, 2015

      I like the idea of pebbles collected from a beach 🙂

      Reply
  16. Kimberley March 12, 2015

    I use ancient VCR tapes, books or scissors. 🙂

    Reply
  17. fatima mosiejuk March 22, 2015

    Hello Portia
    Just found you and have been absorbing all your tips for the past hour. I have sewn for years and your ideas are brilliant, especially the use of masking tape. You are indeed the “Fairy Godmother” of sewers.
    As most patterns now come in assorted sizes I use cheap lightweight interfacing (when on special I buy up) to trace my size from the original pattern. i find the interfacing sits easily on the fabric (although after reading about the weights…will be looking for some). I can add notes to the traced pattern (pattern no., size, date made and small piece of fabric used) then stored in a ziplock plastic bag, for future use.

    Reply
  18. Laura March 25, 2015

    Slate? Rocks?? I have rocks! Thank you soooo much for just saying that. Ha! I’m a rock hound with a passion for jasper, and in the last few years have purchased several “slab ends” of some beautiful jaspers on eBay. Of course, that puts my pattern weights at approximately Dritz prices, but they just sit there looking pretty as it is.

    And it will appease my Other Half to learn some of my rocks are now useful as well as ornamental. Maybe it will even mean I have to buy more rocks. Win!

    Reply
    • portia March 25, 2015

      Entirely justified 🙂 Dritz aren’t as pretty as natural minerals for that price tag let’s face it!

      Reply
  19. Laura March 25, 2015

    Also, for crumbly beach pebbles and those concerned about lead in penny weights: consider felting. Felted rocks are amazing. 🙂

    Reply
    • portia March 25, 2015

      I’d like to know more about felted rocks 🙂

      Reply
  20. Julia April 9, 2015

    What I use as pattern weights are ice hockey pucks. Plenty of them around in this house!

    Reply
    • portia April 9, 2015

      Yessss!

      Reply
  21. Monica Pogue April 10, 2015

    I use flat table knives I bought at the thrift shop. I’ve got about a dozen that were purchased as a bundle.

    Reply
  22. Francesca April 20, 2015

    What a great site and what amazing tips, thank you! I use weights even when I don’t use my rotary cutter – pins move stuff – since I picked up the habit from my aunt about 30 years ago – I have lots of bits of marble.. some are broken bookends, others are samples. Work great. Nothing moves:)

    Reply
    • portia April 20, 2015

      I bet they’re really tactile too! Love marble 🙂 Px

      Reply
  23. hilary chapman-fisher June 21, 2016

    Thanks to all of you…thinking of using weights…and now I have found all of your lovely ideas I will go for it. You are all stars.
    Hilsx

    Reply

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