History And Uses Of Glue For Quilters


For quilters, glue can mean the difference between an easily mended seam in a quilt, or a long labor of unsewing and re-stitching. We present the history and uses of glue.

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History And Uses Of Glue For Quilters

Glue is used by quilters to eliminate bulky seams or make them less visible. It can help you keep pockets or curves in place while sewing. It is used as a baster in collage or landscape quilts. Fusible and iron-on products are, after all, just a version of glue.

History And Uses Of Glue For Quilters


Glue dates back 5,000 years as it may have been mixed with paint to help paintings adhere to cave walls. It was made from skin, bones, fish, hides, hooves, birch bark, and egg whites among others. “Blood glue” made from dried beef blood was waterproof.



Glue was used in early mosaics and might be the reason we are still discovering Roman mosaics in archaeological digs. The first patent for glue in Britain in 1750 was made from fish. Superglue was first marketed in 1958.


Here is a list of the traits we are looking for in a fabric glue: long-lasting, washable, affordable, easy to use, low toxicity, waterproof, doesn't stain, UV resistant, acid-free, clear, doesn't require heat, all-natural, flexible, repositionable, fast drying, odorless, water or latex-based, and with a long shelf life.


Whew! That's quite a list and not all glues have all these characteristics. There are many reviews online describing glue for all purposes that will guide you through these choices.


Recently, my hubby tried a glue named after a certain wild primate on a grocery box he was making. The glue did leave residue which he was able to remove with his fingers and a jackknife. Directions are a huge part of using any glue. This particular glue must be used with water, and although they do make a fabric glue, it is pricey, so he used the household type.


Other glues require that the surface be clean and dry. Many fabric glues recommend washing the fabric before use to remove the chemicals from the manufacturing process. One hint that surprised me was using plumbing adhesive with polyester fabrics. In this, I am thinking more about upholstery fabrics rather than sheer nylon.


Do pay attention to the safety hints in the glue you choose. Watch for the recommendation that gloves be worn. They are serious! We all know that glue sticks to our fingers, but it usually washes off easily. Not so with glues that need gloves.


In the list of attributes, one was that they don't require heat. We all know that glue guns provide an effective adhesive for craft projects. But we also know about the strings that result from the heated glue. (I think I still have a few on my Christmas ornaments…)



My conclusion about glue is that you need to use the best glue for the purpose. If you are mending a seam or clothing, use mending glue. If you are gluing on embellishments, use a strong glue made for that purpose.


Because I do collage quilts, I like the stick glue. Although the disappearing purple does its job, the better glue is the clear repositionable stick glue. This glue is not common at the local big box stores during school supply week. I had to go to an office supply store to get this clear glue but it is available in sizes from 2 sticks to 30 in that big online store. For collage quilts, I like being able to use a pin to cut a piece of the glue to carefully place where it is needed.



Glue for quilting now comes in powder form and the folks who have used it say that it is better than spray because it can be put only where needed. I haven't tried it yet, but if you will excuse me, I think I'll order some to replace my basting spray!


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A temporary method of holding the quilt Sandwich layers together while you finish assembling it. This can be conducted using Basting Sprays, pins, clips or temporary stitching called a Tacking Stitch or Basting Stitch.
Various webs or interfacings which can be ironed onto a fabric for easier applique or to support the fabric.
Debi Warner
Author and humorist, Debi Warner, retired after many years as a clinical librarian and information specialist. She has her Master’s in Library and Information Science and achieved a Distinguished level in the Medical Library Association’s Association of Health Information Professionals. She has worked on teaching physicians to use computers and electronic resources. She also worked on several grants teaching the public how to use the National Library of Medicine’s MedlinePlus public database and is co-author of several articles on health literacy. She took up quilting after retirement in 2012 and chaired the Rio Grande Valley Quilt Show in 2019. She currently teaches several quilting classes over Zoom and writes for QuiltingHub.
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