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Crazy for Glue: How to Use Glue in Quilting

Quilts and glue can easily go hand in hand. As odd as that may sound, glue can truly be a quilter’s best friend! To some quilters, this is not a novel concept at all. To others, this sounds downright crazy! Let’s take a look at glue and how it can be a great benefit to those of us who love to sew and quilt.

Elmer's Glue Bottles - How to Use Glue in Quilting

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When I say glue, I mean exactly what you think. There are a variety of glues that can be used to help with the sewing process.

Elmer’s washable school glue is vastly popular with quilters. This can be in liquid form or glue stick; they both work well for a variety of techniques. Specific quilting and sewing glues can be purchased in local quilt stores and online. Adhesive sprays are another type of glue that can be used for quilting, and many like to baste their quilts with spray rather than pins.

Wondering how you can use glue in your quilting and sewing? Here are a few of the many ways:

1. Binding

Most quilters appear to have either a love or hate relationship with binding. Glue can make this process a bit easier for both hand and machine binders. Need a tutorial? Sharon Schamber has a series of video tutorials on binding a quilt with glue that is extremely popular. Both machine and hand binders will find her techniques helpful.

2. Precision piecing

Seams of all types can benefit from a bit of glue. When liquid glue is applied to the seam allowance, seams can be matched in a nearly perfect manner before they are sewn together. This prevents all shifting. If you are having trouble with complex blocks, glue can help keep those seams neat and precise. Cristy Fincher, who is Sharon Schamber’s daughter, shares a helpful video tutorial on how to precision piece with glue.

3. Hemming

Quickly hem clothing by gluing fabric in place rather than pinning.

4. Appliqué

A touch of glue makes appliquéing nice and easy. When appliqués are glued to the background fabric, there is little or no shifting during the sewing process. An added benefit? No pins to sew around!

5. Basting

Do you like to spray baste your quilts? Adhesive spray can be rather costly. Check out California Quilting‘s tutorial on how to baste an entire quilt with Elmer’s Glue!

6. English paper piecing

Rather than using a needle and thread, fine-point glue pens can be used to hold the fabric in place for English paper piecing. Read more about it in Sue Daley’s glue pen tutorial.

Are you ready to give glue a try? Keep these helpful tips in mind!

  • When using Elmer’s washable glue, set the glue with a hot dry iron before sewing. Just a couple seconds of pressing dries the glue and prepares it for sewing.
  • Many quilters claim that the glue does not “gunk up” their sewing needles. If you are worried that this may be an issue, be sure to carefully apply the glue in the seam allowance only.
  • A little bit of glue goes a long way! Dots of glue spread, so lines are not always necessary.
  • Always be sure that the glue you are using is washable.

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Sally Bramald

When you say Elmers School Glue is washable, does that mean it stays in or washes out?

Toni Reimer

The glue washes out

Debra Neiman

What a great group of ideas. Thanks so much.


I have tried all of those methods with great success. The glue makes so many steps of the quilting process easier and less frustrating. I have also tested using watered down washable elmers as a spray baste, it works but takes way too much ironing to set it.

Vicki Richardson

I did just try this for the first time with Elmers glue stick and EPP. It gummed my sewing needle up like no other. My hands had residue, and my needle was hard to pull through the fabric. I used just a thin line and wasted no time. Don’t know what I did wrong.

Toni Reimer

You just need a few drops of glue you can even try a toothpick to place the glue on the fabric then iron it so it dries quickly

lyn mccoy

Hi Vicki,
The glue works really great. But you may be putting your glue too close to the area your needle will be sewing through or using too much. I use the liquid Elmer’s Glue and put tiny dots on the very edge of my blocks. Then when you sew a 1/4″ seam, the needle will not come into contact with the glue. Don’t forget to iron set the glue dots before sewing. I found the the hole on the glue bottle let out a bigger dot than I wanted so I put a piece of masking tape around the tip and made a very tiny slant pinhole opening.I haven’t tried the glue stick yet

Theresa Johnson

The glue stick is a little messy with tiny seam allowances but the Elmer ‘s is better

patricia staggs

love the idea, I think it will be easier, thanks for the share


A friend gave me the tip of basting quilts with glue sticks. She just dabs the glue stick all over her tops and presses them into the batting. Then does the same with the backing.


This sounds great- can’t wait to give it a try. Thanks for sharing the info!

Diane Turley

Several years ago I made a puzzle quilt for my grandson and it worked out (gluestick) like a charm

Dianne Mills

I have used fabric glue to hold the strips together when I am sewing the binding together at an angle. Worked great.

Sandra Fowle

I use Pritt Stick for securing my zips in place before sewing them, rather than the fighting with pins! It works really well and saves so much fiddling. Put the glue on the zip edge, rather than the fabric it works a treat.

L3 Lenora Brown

I have use glue sticks for years,


I have used glue sticks for years in my hand quilting. I use a dot of glue to center an applique piece on the fabric and small dots of glue to fold the applique fabric around the template. Presently I am hand piecing a king size seven sister’s quilt using the English paper piecing method. I tried ironing the folded edges of the template to my freezer paper templates, but with all the handling it doesn’t hold well enough. A couple dots of glue on the fabric and the diamonds are perfect. Every point is also perfect. I wouldn’t have attempted this pattern with out the glue. I prefer glue sticks because they seem to dry faster.

Pat Allen

Excellent info… thank you for sharing!

Karen Million

Please tell me, do you wash the quilt after it is completed? I can’t imagine any of these glue “dots” or glue stick lines not showing through the fabric! I would think that the only way they could disappear is to wash the quilt when it is finished but the instructions above do not say so.

lyn mccoy

I always wash my quilts after I finish them since I hand-quilt them


Thanks! Didn’t know this but will be trying it.

Lynda Fournier

I love Elmers washable school stick that is purple disappearing. I think it sticks better and much easier to use then the any of the liquid ones. I use glue more for my craft sewing then quilting. I can now put in perfect zippers by gluing them in place. I discovered the many great uses for glue in sewing many years ago.


I haven’t tried any of these but think I will. Sounds like it would be easy.

Ida Todd

Have never used the glue. Have a star quilt that is making me crazy , very complicated in assembly each star. The glue sounds like a great way to uncomplicate it. Thanks for the tips.


I spend way too much time and effort to let glue touch my quilts!


Try first on scrap and see before writing off the idea


I had read about gluing down zippers, but when I tried it, it didn’t hold. I will add the step of using a hot iron to dry it before sewing,,

Sandy Gray

I used Elmers washable school glue for basting my binding down. Today as I began to sew it, I had a hard time putting the needle through the stiff fabric. I have a tip that didn’t let very much glue out at once. Anyone else have this problem?

Margaret Minton

A friend said to water down the Elmer’s school glue with about 25% water, and make a fine line that doesn’t have big drops that could make it hard to stitch through. Have not tried it yet, but plan to.


I used glue for my first applique…I didn’t know it was a method! Im going to try and get Elmers in Sydney Australia ???

Marilyn Eichner

I have used Elmer’s washable glue on my quilts for quite a while now. I use a spray bottle and dilute the glue with warm water and spray it on the batting, then using my hand I go over the sprayed batting just to even it all out. It doesn’t take much. I really can’t tell you the proportions I use but probably 2 or 3 parts of water to one part of glue. Be sure to soak your spray head when finished so you can use it over and over, it’s like magic!


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