Over the past few months we’ve talked about quick quilting tips and tricks. Even as a seasoned quilter, I am finding there are so many helpful techniques to learn that not only improve the speed of piecing, but can improve the accuracy and quality of piecing as well.
I’m so excited today to have guest-poster Cristy Fincher share some tips about glue basting. Cristy is an amazing quilter and piecer. Her technique and accuracy is amazing. She’ll be teaching at Quilt Con in February. I have only just started using these glue basting techniques in my piecing and asked Cristy if she’d share her wisdom here. She is a wealth of knowledge with thorough tutorials and youtube videos.
Hi everyone! I’m Cristy Fincher. I have a fun blog called Sew Much Like Mom where I share my favorite sewing and quilting techniques. I also have an online shop called Purple Daisies, where I sell wonderful sewing and quilting tools, as well fabulous tutorials and patterns by my mom, Master Quilter, Sharon Schamber. I’m so excited to be visiting Amy’s blog and to share my love of glue basting with you!
Glue basting is one of my favorite sewing and quilting tools. It helps me with efficiency and accuracy when I sew, which makes me happier with my results. Most of the time, when I mention glue basting to new quilters, or to experienced quilters who are new to me, I see confused looks come over their faces. But, they change their tunes really fast when they see what can be done with glue basting, and how much it can improve their results.
My mom introduced me to glue basting when she taught me how to appliqué, 14 years ago. Since then, my love for glue basting has only grown, and I find uses for it in almost every sewing or quilting project. Here are just a few of the things I use glue basting for: precise piecing, appliqué, curved seams, zippers, bindings, and clothing. There are many many more uses for it, too. Basically, you can use glue basting almost anywhere you would use pins or clips.
Elmer’s Washable School Glue, topped with a Fine Glue Tip, is my go-to for glue basting. The Elmer’s glue is easy to find in local stores, especially just before school starts, like now. (If you live outside of the US, I sell Elmer’s in my shop, and happily ship it to you.) The Fine Glue Tips are manufactured by my mom and her husband, and fit perfectly on the 4oz bottles of Elmer’s. They’re made from clog resistant plastic, and I find that they clog much less often than other glue tips out there.
There are other products out on the market that can be used for glue basting. I’ve tried virtually all of them, but the Elmer’s Washable School Glue and Fine Tips combo is, by far, my favorite.
The accuracy that I can achieve with glue basting, is addicting. I love when my points match! I know you’ll love it too!
Glue basting is so simple:
- Simply draw a fine line of glue inside on the inside of your seam allowance. I draw mine about 1/8″ from the selvage. The glue shouldn’t be right on your seam line.
- Line up, or nest, the next piece with your first. Be sure that all edges are lined up, just as you would if you were pinning. Then, heat set the glued edge with a hot dry iron. Heat setting dries the glue completely, and just takes a quick second or two because the line of glue is so fine and thin. The heat setting also prevents any shifting. Awesome, right? Immediately, you’ll experience more accuracy in your sewing and piecing.
Then sew as usual. When I piece, I prefer 1.6-1.8 stitch length. After sewing, press to the side.
That’s it! Super easy! If you want to see glue basting in action, I have some videos for you to watch on YouTube.
This is usually when I’m asked many different questions about the effect of glue basting. You might be asking yourself some of the same questions, so I’ll try to answer most of them for you.
- Will the glue ruin my iron? No. Absolutely not. Elmer’s Washable School Glue, is water soluble. If any glue were to get on your iron, it washes off easily.
- Will the glue gum up my needle? No. Absolutely not. As long as you apply the glue close to the selvage, you wouldn’t be sewing through the glue. Even if you did get the glue close to the seam line (like with appliqué), sewing through it is no problem at all because you heat set the glue. Heat setting dries the glue quickly making it no longer gummy.
- Will the glue wash out of my quilt? Yes, it sure will. I always recommend washing quilts with the textile detergent, Synthrapol.
- Do I need to pin when I glue baste? No. In almost all situations, glue basting replaces the need for pins.
- Can I glue baste if I press my seams open? Yes, if the seam needs to be opened you can easily pull the seam apart or use a sewing stiletto to open the seams. In most cases, I would encourage you to press to the side. Pressing your seams to the side will make your quilts stronger, putting the strength of your quilt in the fibers of fabric as well as in the thread. This protects the seam and creates a stronger hold. When you press your seams open, the strength of your seam is only as strong as your thread. Open seams run the risk of popping with dense quilting, washing, wear and with time. There are times to press a seam open, for example: mitered corners and binding strips, but in most cases pressing to the side is a wiser choice.
- Is glue basting faster than pinning, or just sewing and “going for it”, without pins, at the machine? I believe so, yes. Glue basting may take a bit more time, before you get to the machine. Any extra time is made up by how quickly and effiently you’ll be able to sew everything together. The time you use to spend having to unpick and resew mismatched seams will be virtually gone. Sometimes faster isn’t better. Sometimes good technique and efficiency is better, expecially if you’re happier in the end.
- Can I use this type of glue basting to baste my quilts before quilting? No. This type of glue basting is not recommended for basting your quilts.
If you only try one new thing to improve any aspect of your sewing or quilting, please let it be glue basting. I think you’ll love it as much as I do!
Here are some examples of my favorite ways to use glue basting:
Glue basting and machine pieced hexagons are a match made in heaven! (Tutorial coming soon on my blog!)
Prepping my strips with glue basting, before sewing, makes chain piecing more accurate and pretty darn quick.
Glue basting to attach rows together keeps my points matched up, and I never accidentally sew over pins.
Glue basting makes Paperless Paper Piecing possible. This technique will rock your world!
I use glue basting with Piec-lique to make any type of curve, including inset circles.
When I glue baste my appliqué pieces to the background fabric, I can easily sew them down by hand or by machine. Without pins in my applique pieces, I get no puckers or distortion. Love!
I also glue baste when I make clothing. Here, I used glue basting to attach the binding/strap onto the edge of the bodice of a dress for my daughter.
Quilt bindings is probably the most popular place to use glue basting, largely due to my mom’s wonderful binding video. The best part of the video is at the end, when my mom shows you how to do that final join for the binding strips. It’s life changing!
When I glue baste my binding, I can stitch it down by machine or by hand, without the need for any pins or clips. It stays in just the right place, until I sew it down. Magic!
If you have the fine glue tips, my favorite way to keep the clogs away is to use the thick end of a price tag holder. Clip off about an inch and put the stick of it into the glue tip to prevent clogs. To make it easy to find on your pressing board, you can color the “T” of it with a Sharpie, or put a washi tape flag on it. (Big thanks to my friend Becca at SewPixie for these fabulous ideas.)
Glue basting can be a life changing tool. It might take a little bravery to give it a try, and when you do, I’ll bet you’ll never go back!