Have you ever used pattern weights? I hadn't heard of them until I worked in the fashion industry and saw the sample cutter using large cast iron pattern weights instead of pins to hold down the pattern pieces. It made sense in that instance, since patterns were printed on heavy paper and not flimsy tissue paper.
But are pattern weights good for home sewing use? I definitely think so. Supposedly they are more accurate than pins, because the fabric is not being distorted. I'm not the queen of accuracy, so I can't really say I noticed a huge difference in the accuracy of my cutting. But I did find them much faster to use than pins. Instead of spending lots of time adding in pins, I just plop down the weights in the corners and halfway down the seams, and I'm ready to cut.
Pattern weights work best if you are using a rotary cutter. The sample cutter with the industrial pattern weights did use scissors, but I don't really know how he was able to cut right along the edge of the pattern pieces.
You can buy Dritz pattern weights from Joann, but at $17 for 4 they are quite pricey. Four pattern weights wouldn't get you very far, so you would need at least two sets. Thankfully, I found how to make my own!
I went to my local home improvement store and bought the largest washers I could find. I think they are about 1-3/4" wide. I stacked three on top of each other, then used scraps of yarn to wind around and around until all the washers were covered. If you don't have yarn, you can also use narrow strips of thin fabric, maybe leftover bias binding or selvedges. You want to cover up all the metal edges so that nothing will get snagged on the fabric.
Easy, right? I have nine of these homemade pattern weights and I use them on every project. If you make a lot of bras, or anything with tiny pieces, you might wish to make a few smaller weights as well. I was given a set of the Dritz pattern weights, which are smaller than the ones I made, and I frequently end up using them when I cut out a bra project.
Do you use pattern weights? Do you prefer them over pins?
I'm sure many (if not most) sewists today have a magnetic pincushion just like the one pictured above. I've had this particular once for almost as long as I have been sewing. But one pincushion is never quite enough, is it? I don't know about you, but I pin at my cutting table, then carry the pieces over to another room with my sewing table. I usually forget to bring the pincushion with me, so I usually spend half my sewing time traipsing back and forth across my house.
So, I decided to get another magnetic pincushion, only to find out that they are expensive! I believe at Joann right now they are around $15. Ridiculous! There must be a cheaper solution.
Well, I can thank my husband for solving the problem. One day on a shopping trip, we stopped by Harbor Freight Tools. While he did his thing, I was wandering around and saw quite a few tools that are great for sewing!
Here is what I found, a 4" magnetic bowl (same size as the pin cushion from Joann) but for $3!
Now, of course it doesn't come in pretty colors, but if I have to choose between form and function, I'm definitely going to choose function! And at that price, I bought two so I have multiple pin cushions around my sewing areas. I also like to put the screws and throat plate on here when I clean my machine, so nothing gets lost. You do clean under your feed dogs, right? Right?... ok, maybe that's a blog post for another day.
Do you shop for sewing tools at the hardware store?
I think we've all had bad experiences with the purple Dritz fabric marker with disappearing ink. So much time spent carefully marking all the important points on your pattern pieces, only to find them gone the next day. Or, you plan to use a purple fabric and the ink blends right in! What to do?
Now, I can't take credit for this. I read it in some sewing forum, but I can't remember which one. The cheaper alternative: Crayola Washable Markers.
Yes, the same markers your kids use. For about the same price as one of the Dritz markers, you can get a whole pack of the fine tip Crayola markers. I have used all the colors, and in my personal experience I have not had a problem getting any of them to wash out. I even used the red marker on a quilt with a white background, and found that my water bottle leaked inside by bag. The red ink was smeared all around, and I was afraid it was going to stay that way. When the quilt was finished, I washed it as I usually would and all the ink came out!
Of course, always do a test swatch, iron and wash it to make sure the ink will come out.
Another good marking option are the Pilot Frixion pens. I bought a 3-pack with red, blue and black, and someone gave me the pink pen. These make a very fine line, so they are good for very precise markings.
These markings disappear under heat, so once you iron over them they are gone. Well... not exactly gone... I read a story of a quilter who used one of these pens on her quilt top. The quilt was flown to a quilt show, and lo and behold the pen markings had returned!! How?? Apparently freezing temperatures brings them back, even after washing. So I would recommend using the frixion pens for markings that will be hidden in the finished garment, or just don't go into below freezing temperatures? And if you do accidentally erase your markings, try putting your fabric in the freezer--they might just come back!
Do you have any unusual tools for marking?
I design lingerie sewing patterns for everyday comfort and feminine style in an inclusive size range. Fill up your underwear drawer with beautiful custom-made bras and panties in your favorite fabrics and trims, designed to fit your body.