Elmer’s Glue Basting: take three

Alright, friends. It’s been a while since I’ve quilted, but I’m back with another Elmer’s glue test–you know, that white washable glue that children use in school. This time I’m using it to baste a baby Contrails quilt (pattern available soon!). In a mini spoiler, this attempt wasn’t 100% perfect, but I’m darn close to the perfect Elmer’s glue basting technique! I think the next attempt will be the one. If you want to read about my original attempts you can check out part 1 and part 2.


The problems with the first two tries

If you don’t want to read about my other attempts, my first try at Elmer’s glue basting consisted of drizzling lines of glue across the batting and then ironing them dry. This was a horrific idea. Not only did my backing shift while I was trying to baste the front, but the thick chunks of glue I zigzagged back and forth dried in thick chucks that were nearly impossible to sew through. There was also the several adventures of trying to wash all the glue out of the finished quilt.


Still, I wasn’t thwarted. I had bought a gallon of the stuff, and I decided to try again. For the second time, I decided to: water the glue down in a 1:1 ratio, spread the glue out with a brush (so I wouldn’t make any chunkies), tape the batting/backing down to prevent the dreaded wrinkles (which didn’t happen… #rebel), and not ironing. The basting process went really smooth, and I was quite excited about it until I went to quilt. Large section of the quilt top and backing failed to stick to the batting. I had to pin in a few places: another complete failure.


The third try

However, I’m nothing if not persistent. Well, more so that I still had nearly a full gallon of the stuff. For my third attempt, I had originally decided to use a higher mixture of glue to water, but I tossed that out the window. I decided to use the full-strength glue again, but with the brushing techniques from the second attempt. And lastly, I decided that I really did need to tape the batting down taunt to try to get as sleek a quilt sandwich as possible.


I started my taping my Frankenstein batting down with masking tape–don’t throw away batting scraps! Pins would work here to, if you’re working on carpet.


Next, lay out your quilt top, making sure if fits your selected batting.


Elmer's glue basting: laying out the quilt top


The pull back half of your quilt top.


Elmer's glue basting: pull back half of quilt


Working out ~6-8″ from the folded edge of your quilt, squirt a zigzag line of glue down the length of the batting.


Elmer's glue basting: adding glue


Evenly distribute the glue across the batting with your brush.


Elmer's glue basting: evenly distribute glue


Then pull the quilt top down so the wrong side of the fabric presses into the glue. Spread the quilt top taunt.


Elmer's glue basting: spread the quilt top taunt


Lift the unglued portion of the quilt top back up and glue, brush, and press until you’ve got the first half of the quilt top down. Then switch to the other side, and finish gluing the quilt top down.


Elmer's glue basting: finish gluing the quilt top


Next, trim the batting to the quilt top. This makes it easier to line up the backing precisely where you want it to be.


Elmer's glue basting: trim the batting to the quilt top


Flip the basted quilt top over so the batting side is up and tape it down.


Elmer's glue basting: tape down basted quilt top


Position the quilt backing as you desire.


Elmer's glue basting: position the quilt backing.


Lift one half of the backing and glue, brush and press all over again.


Elmer's glue basting


Then do the other half of the backing.


Elmer's glue basting: the other side.


Wait the night for the glue to dry, and then you’re ready to start quilting!


Elmer's glue basting: ready to start quilting


Elmer’s glue basting results 3.0

Oh, so fly!


Elmer's glue basting: the final product


I think the basting came out perfect! Right after the glue dried, the quilt was super stiff, and I was really worried. But as I quilted more and more, the quilt sandwich loosened up and gave me a lot of play without loosing any of the hold. I was thrilled. When I was done I washed the quilt on cold with white vinegar and then dried on medium–I recommend low, but there was an incident with the washing machine that left me with a sopping wet quilt.


As you can see above, I did get a ton of crinkle, but you get that when you don’t wash your fabrics first. I didn’t run into really any problems with fabric lumping up together, even on the back! The hold was really good and there were no Elmer’s glue chunkies my machine had to pierce through. BUT… there were still some harder bits of glue right around the edges that made it a little harder to hand sew my binding.


Thoughts for Elmer’s glue basting take four

I think I nailed it pretty close to perfect here. Next time, I want to pay more attention to how smooth I can get the quilt top glued. I don’t think this method will ever get the smoothness of a long-armed quilt, especially because you have to wash the glue out of it. Though, I do love the homey look of the post-wash crinkle. I also need to be careful with making sure the glue is evenly distributed especially near the edges to make binding easier.


Lastly, something I didn’t mention in this project is the dreaded strings that fray off the colored fabrics. Because I used a white background, you can see the frayed colored bits beneath. It’s not super noticeable, but taking a few minutes to really tidy those up with a scissors and then being more cognizant of making sure they are tucked the right way when you go to glue can help elevate the look of the quilt. But for now, I’m extremely happy with the result and can’t wait for my fourth attempt!

Sew on!

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