DIY Pattern Weights

IMG_1625.JPGPinterest strikes again!  I’ve been noticing lots of pins with instructions on how to make your own pattern weights.  Pattern weights have always been a frivolous tool that never really found a place in my sewing tool budget.  Then, I saw the extremely large washers from a hardware store that appeared in my Pinterest feed one day.

Wow, what a great idea!  I wish I had thought of it.  Those washers were giant and would make perfect pattern weights, but were they available locally?  They look like washers that would fit on a oil tanker or dump truck with a hauling capacity about the size of a small town.  My husband was recounting his latest trip to his favorite farm and home store when I remembered to ask him if he had seen any large washers.  “Yes,” he announced confidently, “I know exactly where they are. I can show you.”  So on our next outing, I followed him into the store and he pointed out the variety of washers to me.  Yes, they did indeed have some extremely large ones.  The box said 1″, $1.99.  I was shocked at the price until my husband rolled his eyes and informed me, “That’s a pound, silly.”  I quickly selected eight, which I thought to be a reasonable number.  The eight washers weighed a little under one-and-a-half pounds and cost me a grand total of $3.39.

The shiny surface of the washers seemed to be slick and I was concerned that they would slip around on fabric and pattern paper.  I never miss a chance to decorate mundane things so I quickly whipped out a crochet hook and scrap ball of yarn.  Deep in my crafting memory, I remembered crocheting around canning jar rubber gaskets.  The same technique could be used to decorate these washers and give them a personality.  After a quick search of Pinterest for crochet edgings, I felt confident I could “dress” my washers and turn them into pattern weights that would be useful as well as attractive.

Once I got started, I couldn’t stop. I created 8 different designs.  I’ve included some rough pattern instructions below. (Be kind. This is my first time writing my patterns down.)

INSTRUCTIONS:  Using an H crochet hook and a ball of sport-weight worsted yarn, I started with a beginning loop on my hook and single crocheted all the way around the washer with a slip stitch in the beginning single crochet to end the round.

Row 1: Single crochet around the washer until there are 40 single crochets.  Slip stitch to join.
Row 2:  Chain 2 for the first stitch and 4 double crochet in the same stitch.  Skip 1 stitch, single crochet in next stitch, skip 1 stitch. *5 double crochet in the next stitch, skip 1 stitch, single crochet in next stitch, skip 1 stitch. Repeat from * around. Join with slip stitch.

Row 1: Repeat row 1 from A.
Row 2: Chain 1 for beginning stitch, *single crochet in next 3 stitches, chain 4, skip 1 stitch. Repeat from * around. Join to the beginning of the row with a slip stitch in beginning chain.
Row 3: Chain 1, skip 1st stitch, *single crochet in next stitch, skip next stitch, 8 single crochet in chain-4 space, skip next stitch.  Repeat from * around.  Join with slip stitch.,

Row 1: Repeat row 1 from A.
Row 2: Chain 2, 3 double crochet in first stitch; chain 1, skip 3 stitches then 3 double crochet in next stitch (cluster). Chain 1, skip 3 stitches and cluster 3 more times. Chain 3 and 3 double crotchets in same stitch (corner made). Repeat sequence 3 more times to create a square effect. (Refer to photo for assistance in this one). Join with slip stitch.

Row 1: Repeat row 1 from A.
Row 2: Chain 2 for beginning stitch, *2 double crochet in next stitch, 1 double crochet in next stitch. Repeat from * around. Join with slip stitch.

Row 1: Repeat row 1 from A.
Row 2: Chain 2 for the beginning stitch, *double crochet in the next stitch, chain 2, skip next stitch.  Repeat from * around.  Join with slip stitch.

Row 1: Repeat row 1 from A.
Row 2: Chain 1 for beginning stitch, single crochet in the next stitch, chain 3, slip stitch in the 1st chain made to create a picot, single crochet in the next two stitches. *Single crochet in the next 2 stitches, make a picot by chaining 3 and slip stitching in the first chain made then single crochet in the next 2 stitches.  Repeat from * around. Join with slip stitch.

Row 1: Repeat row 1 from A.
Row 2: Chain 3 for beginning stitch, 6 triple crochets in the same stitch, skip *stitches.  *8 triple crochets in the next stitch, skip 2 stitches. Repeat from * around. Join with slip stitch.

Row 1: *Single crochet in washer, chain 2. Repeat from * around 9 times. 10 single crochets total.  Join with slip stitch.

A great dollar store find works as a holder.


New Sewing Tool: Cross-Lock Tweezers

My new favorite sewing tool. A tweezey-thingamajig. #sewing #sewingtools

A post shared by Aleeah (@aleeahmc) on

I have discovered a new sewing tool.  It is a set of tweezers that I found while digging through the surgical supply tools in a vendor booth at a quilt show.  But this is not any ordinary set of tweezers.  They have a “cross-lock action” meaning through some magic of physics both blades cross and actually press against each other to remain closed rather than open like standard tweezers.  I chose the sharp pointed stainless steel ones.  With the sharp points, the tweezers can be used as a stiletto to push or hold small trims as I sew over them.  Then with a squeeze of thumb and forefinger, they can grasp like standard tweezers.  I find this especially useful with guiding small, intricate items under the presser foot. I admit that I use them a lot to pull the selvages out the back of the presser foot.  You know that moment when you started sewing too close to the beginning edge and things start to ball up?

These wonders are also called self-closing revers-action forceps and seem to be available at many tool stores.


My First Seam Gauge (After 40+ Years)

gaugeI must be the McGyver of sewing. I’ve learned to take whatever is available and adapt it to my needs at that moment. Lack of resources, both financially and geographically, have always dictated that I work with whatever is on hand. This is a skill that is lost on the younger generations of today, by the way. Therefore, I do not always use the proper tool. I make do.  This weekend, I made the decision to buy myself the proper tool for sewing and alterations: the seam gauge. Wow, what a splurge!  The ultimate decadence–to drive to the sewing notion store and shamelessly purchase the proper tool without consideration of the financial burden to my family, the effect on the environment or the starving children in Africa!

I’ve been sewing for 40+ years and I’ve never owned a seam gauge.  I vaguely remember one at the age of eight in a Girl Scout sewing kit but I must have lost it shortly after possessing it. What possessed me, you ask?  I have several requests to teach an alterations class in writing the lesson plan, I keep coming back to the use of a seam gauge.  As I gathered up my tools, I was embarrassed to see what I have been using instead:  an old plastic 6inch ruler supporting the Future Farmers of America, an old plastic 12inch ruler from a food salesman with the Kraft brand on it, a similar ruler from the AMAX coal company, a child’s ruler left behind at Vacation Bible School and yes, on occasion, I have been know to use a dollar bill.

Who knows what I will be able to accomplish with the “proper tools”!

Mobile Sewing Center Of My Dreams

2014-03-21 15.14.08I have found the perfect mobile solution for my sewing needs!  Thanks, Happy Zombie, for your blogpost.  I’ve searched high and low for some sort of storage and travel option for my treasured featherweight and associated sewing notions.  My husband’s shopping gravitates toward sporting goods stores and home improvement centers so I tend to make the most of it and do some creative re-purposing  that I’m sure would surprise the tool makers.  I had not noticed the Stanley-3-in-1-Rolling-Workshop until your posting.  “Walt’s cherry new ride” is indeed perfect.  If Stanley were smart, they would market a version in the sewing and quilting industry.

2014-03-21 15.24.43My as-yet-unnamed, treasured 1946 featherweight slid down in the bottom like it was made for it.  I had tried to find a way to jettison the original 1946 box because of the extreme weight and molded mildew smell that was embedded in it.

All my tools fit in either the compartment tray with the bright yellow lid or the sliding tray in the top toolbox.

The handle is very functional. I was not a fan of the telescoping ones but this one seems very sturdy.  The upper toolbox is so spacious that it inspired me to whip up a quick iron cozy since my iron had plenty of room to ride in the box.

This rolling workshop, coupled with the portable folding cart that I received for Christmas have allowed me to take my sewing “on the road”.  I stuck a large cutting mat, ruler and small ironing board in the portable cart along with fabric supplies.  I rolled into teach my first Learn To Sew Class without the need of multiple trips to the car to pack in multiple boxes of class supplies. I feel confident that I can sign up for any workshops that require a sewing machine now without fear.

Now, I need stickers….some sort of creative embellishment…….’cause that is how I roll! LOL

Product Review: Clover Protect and Grip Thimble

My hand quilting has been on a hiatus for a couple years while I have been doing the whole “get healthy, get active” thing.  When I returned to my project, I quickly found out there had been a change.  My favorite thimble no longer fit.  I had no idea a 45lb. weight-loss could affect the tips of my fingers.  So I frantically began searching for a new thimble.

REVIEW: The Clover Protect and Grip Thimble is an innovative thimble trying to satisfy two sides of the thimble-wearing community.  It features a dimpled and ridged metal tip attached to a flexible rubber body.  The flexible rubber body has an unusual scallop design that is “for air flow keeping your finger cooler”.  I picked up a hot pink one in a size medium from my local fabric shop.  My finger fit comfortably through the size guide that is provided on the packaging although I think perhaps I would find a size large more to my liking.  The thimble goes on easily, a problem I usually have with metal thimbles.  A round thimble does not fit on my oblong-shaped finger.  Once situated, the thimble was securely in place and I did not worry about it slipping off.  I tried a few stitches with it.  The metal tip seems to be off-balance and perhaps even too thick.  It was difficult to judge the tip of my finger with the added length of the metal tip. I generally push with the pad of my finger and that is not possible with this thimble.  The flexible rubber sides are too soft and will puncture so there is no pushing with anything except the very top of the tip.  I find this awkward considering I’m not quite sure where the tip of my finger is with the added length of the metal tip.  Instructions on the back of the package, in fine print, instruct users to remove the thimble by rolling the rubber sides up instead of pulling it off by the metal tip.  I imagine that it wouldn’t take many tuggings and the tip would come off the rubber body.  All in all, the Clover Protect and Grip Thimble is not a bad thimble but it will not work for me as a daily workhorse.  It would be an excellent choice for a beginner that needs to become accustomed to wearing a thimble but is not a good choice for experienced quilters that are accustomed to a metal thimble. I will probably keep it as a backup thimble to use on small projects.  It is not a bad value at $8.99, although I would like to try a larger one to see if the metal tip would be more balanced for me.

NOTE:  This is an unsolicited product review.  All opinions express are those of the authors.

I will revert back to a very old metal thimble that I have taken a hammer to until I can attend the American Quilter’s Society Quilt Week in Paducah, Kentucky at the end of April  and search for a better thimble.




Thimble Problems

ImageI’ve been on the a health and fitness kick for the past 2 years.  You know, the whole “Get fit, get healthy” thing?  I have been doing Weight Watchers and while, yes, it works, and yes, I did lose weight, I have had to give up so many activities that make my soul sing.  In getting fit and adding exercise to my daily routine, I have trashed my knees and feet while being separated from quilting, sewing, and knitting, and all for what?  That is for another post and another day.

Now that the knees are injured I have returned to quilting and sewing.  Recently, I slipped on my old trusty thimble to find that I could not keep it on.  My fingers had lost weight!  I know I should be rejoicing but I spent years trying to find the perfect thimble.  I have agonized over all types of thimbles and have tried almost every one on the market until I found a wonderful thimble called the PQF thimble. (It is not the thimble shown in the photo.)  The PQF thimble was perfect for me.  It was made out of an indestructible black rubber and was guaranteed to last a lifetime.  I have the hand strength of a lowland gorilla and can snap or bend a size 10 quilting between needle in one stitch.  The PQF’s rubber body would conform to my not-round shaped finger where metal thimbles had never been able to fit securely.  I was able to push the needle with any part of the PQF thimble through multiple layers of fabric and batting with no fear of puncturing the rubber or my finger.  And now, this miracle of modern engineering does not fit!

So, being a modern woman, I turned to the internet to see what the current technology is providing by way of thimbles.  First I searched for my favorite, the PQF.  Every link to those thimbles leads to a Japanese website or a woman’s fashion store.  I had to take a few hours to mourn the passing of my thimble.  A lot of good the lifetime warranty has done me.  So now I find myself in desperate need of a thimble that fits and works for me and the industry has little to offer.

Stay tuned for more thimble agony as I search for that thing that has gone the way of the DoDo …….the “perfect thimble”.