OMG – for some of you, the mere thought of using glue for any sewing project probably makes your home economics teacher cringe! But take a deep breath and consider that this could be a useful tool if used correctly.
There are several types of glues on the market and they are used for very different purposes. Almost all can be useful for sewing projects, but before choosing a glue, check these basics by reading the label:
- Is the glue suitable for use on porous surfaces like fabric?
- Is the glue washable? This can actually mean one of two things: that the glue is temporary and will disappear in the wash, or that it can withstand washing and remain intact, so check carefully.
- Is it permanent or temporary?
- How long does it take to dry to the touch and harden (the time required for chemical bonding)?
- Is the glue repositionable, so that an object like an appliqué can be moved from one place to another? Some glues are temporarily repositionable, then become permanent once hardened.
- Does it dry clear and flexible? Flexibility is especially important if you're using it on a knit garment, so it doesn't crack when the fabric stretches.
- Is it non-toxic and acid-free to prevent damage to the fabric?
- Can you sew through the glued area without damaging the sewing machine or needle?
- Is it colorful, or does it have glitter with the glue to embellish?
Getting it started
Glues can be applied in different ways. Most come with a narrow tip applicator, but some come with a brush tip allowing for broader application. Pens and glue sticks are also available, with some offering screw-on applicators and others offering refillable pens. Spray glues are also available to cover larger areas, but be sure to protect your work surface from excessive spray by covering it with plastic or paper.
For very fine applications, like individual beads or cut lines, look for needle-tipped bottles or apply the glue with a toothpick for precise placement.
If you opt for hot glue, a glue gun heats the glue stick for application, and this tool may come with matching tips depending on what you use it for. Hot glue is harder to control, but is great for things like home decor, like fabric headboards, etc., where the fabric is attached to another surface, like wood. But note that hot glue can melt synthetic fabrics very quickly, so it's best to use another glue option for these.
Where can you use glue?
- Add embellishments to fabric items that you cannot fit into the sewing machine, such as shoes, baseball caps, sun visors, etc.
- Temporary repairs, such as a pocket or torn hem, until you can access your sewing machine.
- Hold the buttons in place until sewn.
- Hold sewn interfaces in place. Simply place small stitches in the seam allowances between the fabric and the interfacing layers.
- Permanently attach jewelry, rhinestones, crystals or beads without the need for sewing.
- Application of ribbons or borders, lace and appliqués temporarily (up to sewing) or permanently.
- Hem clothing made from non-porous fabrics like leather (faux or real) or suede.
- Finishing the ends of the cord which tend to fray.
- Baste the zippers in place for sewing.
- Creation of temporary appliqués as for seasonal costumes.
- Adding glitter or foil to a fabric surface.
- Prevent the seam allowances from fraying by using a very narrow cord along the edge.
So, before you cringe at the idea of sewing glue, think again: it could be the perfect solution.
~Linda Griepentrog is the owner of G Wiz Creative Services and she writes, edits, and designs for businesses in the sewing, crafting, and quilting industries. Additionally, she accompanies fabric shopping tours in Hong Kong. She lives on the Oregon Coast with her husband Keith and three dogs, Yohnuh, Abby and Lizzie. Contact her at .