Quick Tips: Glue Basting perfect points, curves, and applique

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 quilts

Cristy is an amazing quilter and piecer. Her technique and accuracy is amazing. She teaches frequently – including multiple times at Quilt Con which is where I first took a class from her.

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 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.

Glue Basting Supplies

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!

Pretty, right?!

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.

Frequently Asked Questions about Glue Basting for quilting:

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 efficiently 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, especially 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! 

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!

Using the Fine Tips on Liquid Stitch (permanent fabric glue), replaces the need for fusibles with raw-edge appliqué.

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!

Thank you for joining me today! Come visit me at Purple Daisies Quilting, sometime soon! You can also find me on InstaGram, Flickr, and Pinterest as CristyCreates.

Happy Stitchin’



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  • Reply
    Stephanie @ Quarter Incher
    July 15, 2014 at 1:42 am

    I keep seeing her perfection on IG. So glad you had her on your blog to explain it all!!!

  • Reply
    July 15, 2014 at 2:50 am

    Great tips, thanks!

  • Reply
    July 15, 2014 at 7:51 am

    WOW!! I&#39;m off to the store for some Elmer&#39;s!! Thanks for the toot!<br />P

  • Reply
    July 15, 2014 at 9:12 am

    Really informative post – thanks!

  • Reply
    Bev Arason-Gaudet
    July 15, 2014 at 12:49 pm

    Super informative post, love all the tips! I&#39;m going to be gluing from now on!

  • Reply
    reham magdy
    July 15, 2014 at 1:43 pm


  • Reply
    Missy from Swatch Buddies
    July 15, 2014 at 4:19 pm

    What a great post what lots of information – thanks for sharing! Can&#39;t wait to try this out!

  • Reply
    I am Just One Mom
    July 15, 2014 at 4:30 pm

    Have been a fan of glue basting since I saw a you-tube of her mom using it to pre-baste the binding on a quilt. Amazing. And now to see all of these other uses!<br />The extra fine tip is an absolute necessity. What a difference it makes. Try it, you will love it!

  • Reply
    Lara B.
    July 15, 2014 at 11:25 pm

    This is wonderful Amy! Glue basting has always been a mystery to me – turns out that I should have been using a fine tip to apply the glue. This tutorial explains so much that I have not seen elsewhere. Will have to watch the video tomorrow. Thank you for posting Cristy&#39;s tips!

  • Reply
    July 16, 2014 at 1:43 am

    Every time I read one of your posts extolling the virtues of glue basting I wish those tips were more easily available! Glue basting would be perfect for the current orange-peel-along, would make sewing the peels down an absolute breeze. I&#39;m going to have to get some of these tips at some point!

    • Reply
      July 16, 2014 at 12:24 pm

      Hi! The glue tips are availabe in my shop, and I ship worldwide. Please let me know if you have any questions! ~Cristy

  • Reply
    kingman quilter
    July 16, 2014 at 5:53 pm

    Cristy – Love Love Love your glue basting technique. I&#39;ve been using it now for about 4 months and I purchased the applique paper from your shop and it&#39;s as great as the glue technique!!<br /><br />Can&#39;t say enough about your (and your mom&#39;s) glue techniques and I share it with as many people as will listen!! I&#39;ve become a practically pinless quilter!! Thanks…..

  • Reply
    July 17, 2014 at 8:56 am

    Wow! As a beginning quilter I appreciate any technique that makes my quilting easier. Thanks so much for this post and the links. Will give it a go.

  • Reply
    The Witch on the Barn
    July 18, 2014 at 5:06 pm

    I live in country Victoria, Australia and after reading your post I found the Elmer&#39;s glue in the supermarket in town! A very useful technique, thanks.

  • Reply
    Sara Gasch
    November 3, 2014 at 4:43 pm

    Love your post! Just curious why you stated glue was not appropriate for basting an entire quilt…. I have done it many times with no issues, in fact it is the only way I have found to have absolutely no shifting of the layers. Craftsy even tells you how. Would love to have your opinion of why it doesn&#39;t work.

    • Reply
      amy smart
      November 3, 2014 at 5:16 pm

      Really great question. I didn&#39;t write this post – a guest writer named Cristy Fincher is the writer and expert here. You could ask her directly. Her blog is: http://purpledaisiesquilting.com/<br />I&#39;d be interested in the answer as well (mainly since any easier way to baste a quilt is good in my books.)

  • Reply
    My Quilty Bucket List–Part One | Quilting is in my Blood
    September 7, 2015 at 3:57 pm

    […] of glue, I will probably also try glue basting to help me with more precision […]

  • Reply
    Your Pet “Photo to Art Quilt” Tutorial Part 3 | Painting With Thread
    October 30, 2015 at 1:44 pm

    […] On Gluing the Edges – Put VERY TINY dots of glue on the edge of the pieces. Not much glue is needed. As each edge gets glue, iron it to set it, being careful not to put excessive amounts of glue. Special applicator bottles with fine tips can be used or a toothpick or a fine brush if the glue bottle allows too much glue to come out. After ironing you may see dry glue that has seeped through the fabric but this glue is starch based and if after thread painting it’s still visible it can be blotted away with a wet rag. For more on Glue Basting and products, go here. […]

  • Reply
    Quilting Focus
    November 22, 2015 at 9:15 pm

    We love the Blog Sew Much Like Mom, and this post by Cristy Fincher. As seasoned Quilters we are always still finding new tips and tricks to basting 🙂 We did a post at http://www.quiltingfocus.com/2015/03/how-to-pin-baste-your-quilt/ with really neat instructions and tips to basting a quilt, if you want to check it out. Happy Quilting!

  • Reply
    Shadow Star for do. Good Stitches Cheer Circle | Jess K Quilts
    February 1, 2016 at 12:10 pm

    […] bias edges that the glue provides. Cristy Fincher has a great tutorial on Amy Smart’s blog here if you’re interested. I use a small bottle that I found in the quilting section of my local […]

  • Reply
    Quick Quilting Tips and Tricks - Diary of a Quilter - a quilt blog
    April 27, 2016 at 10:40 pm

    […] Glue Basting techniques with Cristy Fincher. […]

  • Reply
    May 28, 2016 at 5:43 am

    Is your glue tips no longer available? When I click any of your links to, the page says not found.

  • Reply
    Bonnie Firth
    November 14, 2017 at 6:54 am

    I keep my glue in a glass upside down. No air in the tip means no clogging. remember the tip cover

    • Reply
      November 15, 2017 at 4:36 pm

      Genius idea! I’m totally going to try that!

      • Reply
        Suzanne G.
        January 19, 2018 at 6:34 pm

        Wow! Brilliant – I’m going to do that too – I’m getting tired of clogs. Thanks for the excellent tip.

  • Reply
    August 28, 2019 at 8:56 am

    Cristy, I became addicted to Glue Basting after watching your Mom’s binding tutorial. For those who have not seen that please view the link that Cristy provided for Sharon Schamber’s quilt binding tutorial. I found that on my own after my laughably wonkly binding that I applied to a quilt. Since finding that video, my quilt bindings look very professional. From there, I used it for my piecing (which also had some laughably wonky outcomes) and have found that the results helped me be a more confident beginning quilter…though I cannot imagine not using it as I progress further. I found a very quick way to control glue and speed…simply put a straight edge on a 45 degree angle inside the seam allowance. Squeeze the glue (using a fine tip from your favorite vendor) in the angle between you fabric and ruler and move quickly against the ruler and down your edge. You end up with a very fine line that you are essentially zipping (like when caulking trim). Very quick and precise while not leaving much glue.

  • Reply
    January 20, 2021 at 8:41 am

    Hello, I know this article was published years ago so I thought I’d let you know that the links (Piece-lique and Paperless Piecing) in the article have been tampered with and now direct you to an inappropriate website.

    • Reply
      January 21, 2021 at 11:49 am

      Thank you so much for the heads up! I will update that post today!

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