A Sewing Tip: Washer Pattern Weights

mad mim sewing tip_washer weights 2

Isn’t tracing/cutting out your patterns/fabric such a drag? I dread that part of sewing. It’s so tedious, and unsatisfying. A lot of you probably don’t sew with patterns because its such a downer to cut them out–I know I have had several friends/students who are of that frame of mind. Well, I’ll tell you. I’m a fan of sewing with patterns simply because there’s no better way to learn construction/proper technique than following a pattern. And although I freestyle a lot, I often use a pattern as a base point before I jump off and alter any way I fancy. After years of just drafting my own stuff from scratch, I discovered it took me much longer to complete a projects that way. Why reinvent the wheel? So I use patterns pretty frequently just to start me out.

So back to cutting out patterns. I don’t have any magical way of making this part of pattern-sewing anymore fun, but I do have a few tricks that I use to streamline the process a little.

The first is using a large cutting mat. I have one (36X25 inches)  handed down from my sister that although pretty bent/cracked/hashed/well-loved, is my saving grace. There’s nothing more annoying than having to try and slide your already positioned fabric/pattern over so you have a mat to cut on.

To go with that, obviously, you’ll need a rotary blade. I NnnnnnnnEVER use scissors to cut out my projects, it’s all about my rotary blade. I practically eat those blades for lunch, I go through them so fast (incidentally, I recently discovered that the cheaper generic brand of blades fit my Olfa rotary cutter just fine–whether or not there’s a compromise in quality I have yet to find out!).

And then lastly, I save EONS of time by not pinning, and instead using pattern weights. One of my bestie’s Mom is a marvelous seamstress, and once (years ago) during a sewing project she was helping me on, she brought her fancy pattern weights. She just set those suckers on the pattern, and cut cut cut. So quick! So since then I’ve used butter knives, baby food jars, and now recently large washers. Real pattern weights are pretty expensive, but these washer alternatives are cheap (like 30 cents each) and so perfect for the job.

mad mim sewing tip_washer weights 1
Any fun sewing projects you’ve got cookin’? I (SADLY) injured myself this last weekend, and have been taking it super easy to try and get myself healed (even refraining from sewing!!) But I’ve got a couple projects in the beginning stages, including a little swimsuit for my gal and a colorful baby quilt that await my return. Nothing like the prospect of a good craft project to pull you through a tough time, right?



So sorry to hear about your accident! I hope you get better soon. I’m working on a little dress for my girl to use up a bunch of scraps. I’ll post a pic when it’s done.


this is such a great tip! I hate cutting out patterns. Now I have no excuse now to not make all those clothes.

I hope you feel better soon!


I love the washer tip. I do feel like the pattern layout/cutting is the worst part of sewing — (well, I also hate pre-washing/ironing fabrics) — often making me postpone starting at all. I def. need to work on making that step more efficient.


What a cool website! I love it. Too many websites encourage sloppy sewing these days and that’s okay sometimes for fun, but if you want things to look good, ya gotta play by some rules. I do have a question. I love my olfa cutter, but I always use a straight edge guide with it, can you really just free=hand with a rotary cutter? Tell me more about that,.
Thanks. Nita.


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