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Glue Basting Basics // Technique Tutorial Tuesday

It's been a few weeks since I started the "In the Studio" video series and over the past few weeks I have had many readers ask about the glue basting technique I use. Glue basting is a great technique that can really help you achieve accuracy when piecing. Months ago my friend and fabulous quilter Cristy Fincher shared a video tutorial about glue basting here at Pile O' Fabric which you should also check out. Today I decided to re-address this super helpful technique with another short video that I put together for you all. glue-basting-ad-sm

Glue basting is one of those techniques that seems to strike controversy amongst quilters. I often hear comments like, "seems like a big waste of time and materials when you could just use a pin". But, before you write it off completely I urge you to give it a try at least once. Usually those who I have spoke to that just said, "whatever, I will give it a try" ended up absolutely loving it. Right away you will notice a huge improvement in your accuracy and once you have started to build glue basting into your regular quilting routine you will notice that you can actually save time. Accuracy + Saving Time = Fantastic!

The Glue Tips

Update: Since filming this video I have started using new glue tips. The Fineline® Glue Applicator Tips have a stainless steel tip and a wire/cap system to better prevent against clogging when you are not using the glue. The hard lid also protects the tip from bending or breaking making it easy to travel to classes. These tips can be purchased in the Pile O' Fabric shop at  



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  • Karen Alexander says...

    I’ve been using the Elmers to glue a French/double binding down, folding to the back, and stitching in the ditch from the front. A wonderful, very neat way to handle binding. I got this technique from a Sharon Schamber workshop on binding many years ago, I’ve never used tips, but keep my Elmer’s in good shape by putting very thin quilting needle (the kind with the ball) in the tip, under the cap to keep it from drying out… works great!

    On February 18, 2015

  • Lori says...

    Hi! I’m working on a hand sewn king size cathederal window quilt and have been using Roxanne’s glue baste it to hold the “windows” down while I stitch around them. Will the Elmer’s work for that without bleeding through the fabric? It would be a lot less expensive. Thanks.

    On November 11, 2014

  • Alyssa of Pile O' Fabric says...

    In reply to the comment from Babette below…

    For anyone under the delusion that credit is not given in this post, I encourage you to actually read the post and watch the video. Credit is given 3 times, twice in the video and once in the post including a link.

    What’s sad are teachers who feel the need to harass their students. As a teacher myself, the best part is helping others succeed.

    On October 09, 2014

  • Babette says...

    please give credit where credit is due, this is not Alyssa’s but Sharon Schambers’ technique and she put out this video yrs ago, as are so many of these videos….Sharon is such an amazing person and teacher and it’s sad that her videos are being copied and credit is not being given to her.

    On September 30, 2014

  • Karen Caswell says...

    I am currently using to piece a king size bargello quilt and it works great. I love it and I have about 98 percent perfect seams. I need to order the tip from your site though. Mine is not thin enough.

    On September 05, 2014

  • Christine Slaughter says...

    I have such a hard time with this technique. I want to love it, but I have had so many problems with using it!

    I have a high-speed straight stitch machine (the Brother PQ-1500S), and it can sew through 15+layers of fabric, interfacing and Soft and Stable like it was butter. But when I started glue-basting, I broke a needle, my needle jammed on the fabric, and I could not stitch without using a 100/16 Topstitch needle. I tried using less glue, but everytime I heat set the layer the iron still would spread the glue a little, creating a hard layer. Ugh!

    I have been meaning to send a message asking what I’m doing wrong… since I have followed the videos down to a T! I am pretty sure it’s not too much glue, since I use the fine-tip and apply the tiniest line possible. I’m glad you posted this, because I can see that it would make for accurate piecing, but just doesn’t seem to work for me.

    On August 21, 2014

  • ChelsieCreates says...

    I don’t use it all the time, but when I have a big piece with lots of points to match up I will get it out!

    On August 21, 2014

  • Cristy Fincher says...

    Hi Christine,

    If you’re interested, I’d love to help troubleshoot this with you. There must be some little thing throwing it off for you. Skype might be really helpful. Are you using the white Elmer’s Washable, or the gel?

    On August 21, 2014

  • KimberJ says...

    One last thing… have you tried the Elmer’s school glue gel?

    On August 21, 2014

  • KimberJ says...

    I must lead a sheltered quilting life, either that or by being nearly completely self taught I’ve missed a lot of great tips. I can’t wait to try this. My arthritis makes basting only with pins really difficult. I’ll let you know how it goes :)

    On August 21, 2014

  • EvasLeisure says...

    What a nice idea. Like this. I don’t know if I can find a glue like this in Germany/Europe. I am afraid that an UHU glue will get very hard and makes it difficult to sew on. But I can make a test with it or use fabric glue instead.

    On August 21, 2014

  • L Carolyn ghearing says...

    I am becoming a fan of this technique. It does a better job than pinning, much more accurate…thanks for sharing!

    On August 21, 2014

  • Elizabethdx says...

    When I read Christine’s comment, I wondered how much the temperature of the iron can affect the glue. Do you and Cristy use a setting for cotton or whatever fabric you’re using, or do use a different setting?
    And thank you for this great video! I can’t wait to try this technique.

    On August 21, 2014

  • Kim M says...

    I’ve been using Elmer’s Clear Washable School Glue ( and have been loving glue basting! I don’t even use the fine tip – just a small dot from the regular tip works great!

    On August 21, 2014

  • Cristy Fincher says...

    The Elmer’s Gel leaves makes a much stiffer bond between the two layers of fabric. It’s also harder to wash out. I prefer the white Elmer’s Washable School Glue, and it’s much cheaper than the gel.

    On August 21, 2014

  • Angela says...

    This is the most brilliant thing I’ve ever seen! I tried glue basting, but didn’t have a skinny needle applicator, so even though I held the bottle high and just sort of swooped the glue, it still got glommy and I didn’t love it. This morning, I went to my LQS to get a needle but they only sold them with fabric glue. I got it anyway, and I’m so in love with this technique! I have a very low end Singer and the feed dogs want to twist the last 1/2 to 1/4 inch of fabric as I sew, and the glue stabilizes the fabric enough that it doesn’t happen. Thank you for this tutorial!

    On August 21, 2014

  • gale says...

    I’ve heard about people using glue to sandwich quilts too. I’d love to see a video of that technique but I haven’t had much luck finding one yet.

    On August 21, 2014

  • Diane Swett says...

    Thanks for the tutorial, I have been using this technique for a while now and love it. I originally learned the technique from cristy at purple daisies too. Your tutorial is so clear and I learned a lot. I am sharing your tutorial on my blog today.

    On August 21, 2014

  • KimberJ says...

    Thanks for the gel info :) I’ve ordered everything I need as well as a couple other goodies from PurpleDaisies!

    On August 21, 2014

  • Beth says...

    Do you have any idea how it is to hand quilt through seams that have been glue basted. Seems like it would be tough to get a needle through.

    On August 21, 2014

  • Karon says...

    Thanks so much for sharing this video. I’m now huge fan of glue basting! It is so much quicker than pinning and no worries over shifting.

    On August 21, 2014

  • Katie says...

    Thank you! I have been linking to the other post as well. Well done.

    On August 21, 2014

  • sandy says...

    I find it unnecessary to use the special tips. I also only place small dots of glue instead of a line … works just as good. Gluing your borders on is also great … no slippage.

    On August 21, 2014

  • Ceil says...

    This is a great tutorial! Your directions are very clear. I tried glue basting a binding once but that didn’t work for me but I think I was too new at binding to begin with. Now I find that pressing and Wonder clips eliminates the need for glue basting. When I’m piecing I often feel that it would be wonderful to be able to stick things together sort of like a post it note before sewing so this should work great. I have all the glue tips just need to practice. I’ve come a long way with my cutting and piecing but something was still wrong and made my blocks a bit distorted. Your tip about using a hard pressing surface was the piece of the puzzle missing for me and I thank you for that. I’m sure I heard it before but when you’re starting out there are so many tips and techniques that it’s difficult to use them all at once. You have to master each step one by one. Thank you again for a great tutorial!

    On August 21, 2014

  • Quick Quilting Tips: Pinning Alternatives | Craft Buds says...

    […] instead of pins. My friend Alyssa of Pile O’ Fabric has a great video tutorial sharing her glue basting technique, which will save you from having to stick yourself with pins ever […]

    On August 21, 2014

  • Alyssa says...

    Let me know how it goes. I was thinking about it, what iron are you using? Maybe the iron is over heating the glue, not sure thats even possible, but you shouldn’t have to press it to long just a few quick seconds.

    On August 21, 2014

  • Christine Slaughter says...

    Hi, Cristy!! I forgot to come back here and check replies. Big thanks to Ivy who emailed me to let me know you had replied to my comment.

    I use the Elmer’s Washable Glue. I am going to try this technique again today, and really focus on the method. I’ll send you a message with what happens. I’m hoping it is just me, and now that I’m not really frustrated I can focus on what is really going on. I’ll let you know, Cristy!!

    On August 21, 2014

  • Annette Z says...

    Thank you so much for this. I am making a very challenging quilt with lots and lots of seam matching. It has been extremely frustrating! I tried this technique and wow! what a difference it has made in my frustration level. Your tip regarding the iron was fantastic! I also learned wearing my glasses while I glued and sewed helped tremendously! :O

    On August 21, 2014

  • New Quilt Blogger Blog Hop! | Ties That Bind Quilting says...

    […] As quilters, I know we all strive to make sure our points and seams match up.  The best quilting technique I have learned is glue basting!  I find that I’m able to line up seams and points so much better with glue basting than I am with pinning and it really doesn’t take any more work or time.  If you’ve never tried it before, I really encourage you to do so!  I think you’ll fall in love!  Alyssa over at Pile O’ Fabric has a great glue basting tutorial video. […]

    On August 21, 2014

  • Great Tips . . . | Pieces to Patch says...

    […] Glue basting is one alternative to pinning your patchwork […]

    On August 21, 2014

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Alyssa Lichner from Pile O' Fabric

Welcome to the Pile O’ Fabric blog, my name is Alyssa Lichner, I live in sunny Gilbert, AZ. I am a freelance web and graphic designer turned avid sewist. I write modern quilting tutorials and share techniques and inspiration here at Pile O’ Fabric… Read More

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