Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Make Your Own Decorative Pattern Weights

The other day my daughter and I were in a shop and she held up a package of brightly colored objects and asked me, "what are these used for?" The items were pattern weights and I explained that they were used to hold down a pattern when cutting fabric.

If you are close to your mother or daughter, then you know the look that passes between two women that means, "I am laughing my butt off right now, but I know I need to get out of the store before I do." Well, my daughter gave me that look and we had to rush our purchase to get out of the shop without hurting feeling and with our dignity still in tact.

Tuna cans used as pattern weights
It seems my wise and worldly daughter did not know that some folks pinned patterns and others used items other than tuna fish cans or washers to hold down patterns when they cut.

The experience was good. My daughter suggested that we ought to color our washers (aka pattern weights). She is correct. Tools are more enjoyable when pretty.

There are a LOT of ways to color washers, but we decided to use resin, a technique we've used before to make pendants and other jewelry.

large, heavy round washer (1.25-inch to 4.5-inch), stainless steel or brass
Postcard or decorative paper
Diamond Glaze or Mod Podge
Bowl of water (to clean paint brush)
Transparent embossing powder
Scrap paper

Inexpensive, artist paint brush

Xacto craft knife
Self-healing cutting mat
Heat It Craft Tool

Step 1
Select the washer and the paper you want to use to decorate your washer. For pattern weights, the weight of your washers will be as important as the size. You want large and heavy. For paper, you want pretty.  In our example, we used a 1-1/4-inch round washer and a post card sent to use in the mail with a copy of a painting entitled "Change"by Oh Su Fan announcing the "In and With: Contemporary Korean Art" exhibit at the Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery at Haverford College. Post cards are heavy, coated paper that do not run when coated with glue or embossing powder.

Step 2
Determine how you want to arrange the paper on the washer. Glue the washer to the back side of the paper using a glue stick (or glue of your choice) in the space that highlights the design you want to use.

Step 3
Place the washer on the cutting mat and use a craft knife to cut away the excess paper. Note: It is best not to use the same cutting mat for crafts as you do for fabric.

Step 4
Paint Diamond Glaze or Mod Podge on the paper using a paint brush until it is completely coated. Paint the sides of the washer to seal the paper to the washer. If bubbles appear, pop them using a toothpick or your finger. Check to be sure the coat is even.

Wash the paint brush immediately with water to prevent the brush from becoming glued together and no longer usable.

Step 5
Before the coat of Diamond Glaze or Mod Podge is dry, place the washer on a clean piece of scrap paper and sprinkle transparent embossing powder over the glue painted paper surface of the washer.

Step 6
Tap off excess embossing powder. (We use a second piece of scrap paper to catch the excess so we can reuse the embossing powder).

Check to be sure the embossing powder is even. Sprinkle again (and remove excess again), if needed, to even out surface.

Decorate washer to create pattern weight
Step 7
Use the heat tool to melt the embossing powder. Heat evenly until all the embossing powder melts and coats the paper surface of the washer and the side of the washer. Check to be sure the paper is sealed onto the washer. Allow the embossing powder to cool.

Warning: Do not test the embossing powder with your finger to see if it is done and dry! Ouch. Not only will you have unsightly fingerprints, hot embossing powder will stick to your hand and may cause a burn.

Step 8
Repeat, as needed, to create other pattern weights.

Related Tutorials
Cold Enamel a Washer to Make a Pendant
Make a Three Strand Bracelet from Copper Washers
Make a Bib Necklace from Washers
Make a Stamped Pendant from a Washer

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