Pins. I hate pins. Mainly because they inevitably end up on the floor, in my foot, or in my dog’s mouth. There are occasions when straight pins are necessary: attaching skirts to figure skating dresses or ballroom gowns, getting an inset bra placement just right, keeping ridiculously slippery and delicate fabric in exactly the right place despite the best efforts of your feed dog, etc. But generally, pins are overrated.
I started using pattern weights when I made my first wedding gown ages and ages ago, because the fabric was so curmudgeonly that it showed every tiny little pin hole. Besides — at this point I don’t have the time to sit and pin paper patterns to fabric. All of my stock ready-to-wear patterns are made out of vinyl anyway, so pins are out of the question.
But pattern weights are expensive. And ugly. So I looked around my shop to see what I had that could be repurposed. And what does every skating coach and skating parent have in spades? Old wheels. I realized I have an embarrassing collection of them, so I figured I had two options: throw them away or re-imagine them. Since the good sets cost more than $100 each, throwing them away seemed like such a waste.
So instead, I turned a set of eight old wheels into a quirky, cute, and extremely useful set of pattern weights. Since I wanted them as heavy as possible, I filled the inside cavity with fishing weights (after removing the bearings, because keeping extra sets of bearings is an entirely different type of anal retentiveness), wrapped each one in a small piece of spandex, and secured it with two rubber bands. They look nice enough to leave out on the cutting table, and they don’t roll around (no pun intended) or move like regular pattern weights do thanks to their larger surface area.
If you don’t happen to have old roller skating wheels sitting around, you’re bound to have something from a past mania that you couldn’t bear to ditch. Also, the dollar store carries sets of very small food storage containers that would work well filled with sand and with the lids glued down. Firefly Fabrics sells these pattern weights in a variety of colors if you’re more inclined to purchase them than make them. The fabric can be removed in case they need to be cleaned (how you would get pattern weights dirty is sort of a mystery to me, but I remember sewing with four kids under seven, so really, I’m sure there’s a way), and since they’re gathered with rubber bands, they can be reconstructed simply and quickly.
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