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How to glue baste – English paper piecing

how to glue baste

How to glue baste…

I know, I know. I know what you’re thinking. Why do I need to know how to glue baste?? So before we get into it…let me just say that I am not the authority on english paper piecing. There are so many ways to get a finished project, and I certainly don’t claim to be the one holding all the answers. But I want to let you in on what has worked so well for me after lots of trial and error. And before I go on, I just want to say: ALWAYS TEST NEW PRODUCTS LIKE GLUE STICKS ON YOUR FABRIC PRIOR TO USING THEM IN AN ENTIRE PROJECT. The glue I use has never done me wrong, but that’s not to say you might not have a different experience.

glue basting

Thread vs. glue

Thread basting is very popular. I know a lot of sewists who swear by it and refuse to ever go down the glue basting road. Which is totally fine. But I. Hate. Thread. Basting. With a passion. I don’t know if I just don’t have the dexterity to move my fingers like they do, but it doesn’t work for me. And it takes me fooooooreverrrrrrrrrrr. I know English paper piecing is slow sewing, but I don’t want to make it any slower than I have to, ya know? That being said, I highly encourage you to try thread basting if you haven’t. It might be the cat’s meow to you. Then give glue basting a try and I’ll try not to say I told you so 😉

Some glue basted pieces ready to sew

Getting started

If you missed my last post, check out Basic Supplies and the video I did explaining my favorite tools and why I use them. I have several of my favorites in my shop. Okay, now here’s the skinny on glue basting: There are “sewing specific” glue sticks. I won’t name the brands because I don’t want to seem like I’m speaking negatively about them. I’ve tried at least a couple of them and they work great! So if you’re growing money on trees in your backyard, feel free to use those. What I’m trying to say, is they’re pretty pricey as far as a glue stick goes. And the refills that go with them.

I will admit that I used the pricey glue sticks in the beginning and completed an entire EPP project with them. Then, I ran out. At the time, there wasn’t a quilt shop just next door to me, so I looked through some school supplies and found some Elmer’s School Glue sticks. I felt like I had heard someone say they could work in a pinch, as long as they were water soluble–so I figured, what the heck? I tried them and was immediately hooked. They were the Romeo to my Juliet. Everything that had even been missing in my life. Well… maybe not, but still pretty good.

Elmer's disappearing school glue
Elmer’s Disappearing Purple Glue Stick

Pros about the Elmer’s school glue glue sticks:

  • The purple disappearing ones show up so you can easily see where you’ve applied glue
  • The purple generally dries clear, unless you put a huge blob of it
  • They’re water soluble
  • They are CHEAP — I buy mine in bulk on Amazon (60 glue sticks/pkg) -Not an affiliate link
  • You can find them almost everywhere
  • Each glue stick lasts much longer compared to the sewing glue stick counterpart

Want to learn how to glue baste?

Check out the short video I put together below. I’ll walk you through how I glue baste my pieces. It’s SO easy!

In my opinion, glue basting is well suited for elongated shapes. In the video, I am glue basting a really long, skinny triangular shape. I tried to thread baste this shape, just to see how it turned out, and I lost the precision of the points. With glue basting, you can press those points with accuracy.

Before I leave you with your thoughts on glue basting, I will say there is some difference in Elmer’s glue sticks. I tried the glue sticks pictured below (Elmer’s Clear Repositionable), and I didn’t have much success with them. The glue I applied didn’t want to seem to adhere to the papers or the fabric. I made sure I didn’t purchase those again, but I’m glad I tried them. You never know if you don’t try! So I challenge you to take a chance on glue basting and if you haven’t tried it–give it a shot. Happy sewing!

Glue sticks
Clear repositionable glue sticks