12 June 2010

My hands grown tired, my head weighed down with dreams—

So, what was it I wanted white glue for, anyway?

Pattern weights. I wanted some pattern weights.

Since I've been sewing again, I've been reassessing things like tools and techniques.  One of the things I've seen recommended is the use of pattern weights instead of pins. The idea is this: you lay out your pattern, holding the pieces in place with the weights, and then trace them onto the fabric with a tailor's chalk. This allows greater precision, and is easier on the tissue-paper patterns.

So while I was out running the usual errands last weekend, I stopped at the local chain fabric store and took a look at the pattern weights for sale there. A package of 4 pattern weights was $10. That's about $2.50 per weight. And you need at least a dozen, so $30 for a usable set.

I am not normally one to gripe about the prices of things, and I will pay good money for quality tools for my hobbies.  But $2.50 each for weights? Really?

I'd rather spend $30 out of my craft budget on fabric, or patterns, or a tool for which precision really matters.  I suspect I am not the only person to feel that way. I went home and snooped around the internet for better ideas. Among the suggestions out there were beanbags filled with BBs, and large washers.

I am not wild about the idea of BB beanbags simply because BBs are small, will escape, and are not good to step on. Washers, on the other hand, are large, flat, easily contained, and less likely to be a hazard to life and limb.

The nice man in the Home Depot hardware aisle was baffled by my request for a box of 3/4" washers but helped me find them. The 3/4" measurement refers to the diameter of the hole in the middle of the washer; these babies are about 3 inches in diameter total. A single one is a bit light for use as a pattern weight and they do have some rough edges, so I decided to sandwich the washers with pieces of felt. Felt is cheap and non-slip, both of which were useful characteristics for this project.

The numbers:

$11.80 for a 5-lb box of 3/4" flat cut zinc washers; $2.50 for half a yard of craft felt; $2.50 for a bottle of Elmer's Glue-All = $16.80. The 5-lb box of washers contained 46 washers, enough for 23 weights, so call it about 73 cents per weight. Even if you add in my time, I think it's still less than $2.50 a weight.

Finished product:  bask in the glory!

I put together a photo set on Flickr showing how I made them, for the curious: Pattern Weights

Alice Moore Dunbar-Nelson

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