Covering shedding bag weights

Here is a common bag weight that is used in conservation labs. It’s a very helpful kind of weight because it’s flexible and has soft edges. It can mold over a spine of a book easily, or help in unrolling a rolled-up print. But these little weights have a tragic flaw…. at some point the metal beads inside start shedding through the stretchy cotton stockinette that encases them. The shedding looks like dark metallic glitter and it gets on everything, including collection materials. It is especially hard to brush off blotters.

Various sizes of bag weights. Image courtesy of Talas Online.

Annoyed by the metallic dust, I first decided to cover the weights in polyethylene, using a heat sealer. A co-worker covered his weights in scraps of Colibri polyethylene covers and sealed those on the Colibri machine. The solution worked for about 8-10 months. Then….. a problem.

The bag weight in and out of its busted lightweight polyethylene “jacket”.
This is the more durable Colibri jacket scrap covering. Note the gaping hole.

I decided to try another covering solution: sewing the bag weights into heavy weight Hollytex. Hollytex is a non-woven spunbound polyester fabric that is used for interleaving and support.

Placing the bag weight onto a rectangle of heavy weight Hollytex (0.0053″ thickness) and sewing the cover.

It helped to draw a straight pencil line to use a guide when stitching. I used Barbour sewing thread, 50 Grms. The bag weight does not have to be inside the Hollytex when you are sewing. You can just use the weight to make sure the cover fits and you have enough material to work with.

It is best to leave as little space between the stitches as possible, so that the inevitable metal shavings do not escape.
When starting on the second (long) side, it helps to pin the edges of the Hollytex together and to draw another straight line to guide your sewing. Then you just cut off the excess fabric with scissors. Viola!
As long as you can hand-stitch in a straight line, you got this! No advanced conservation skills required. Our Resident Librarian Katie Wampole is pictured working on this project.

I suppose that it is entirely possible to use a sewing machine to do this quicker. But I am not a sewing machine pro and prefer to do it by hand.

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