quilting supplies-cheap!

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July 28, 2013
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quilting supplies-cheap!

Hello all, Mary Ellen again.

Before I retired it would really frost me to start to see “back to school” ads in July. The summer isn’t even half over yet! Now I don’t mind at all because some of my best quilting supplies are bought in the back to school aisles. Probably my number one supply purchased at this time of year-in quantity-is Elmer’s washable school glue. I buy both the glue sticks and the liquid glue. It allows me to avoid pinning in many projects, and actually has increased my accuracy.

The most frequent use of the glue is for “basting” my bindings to the back of the quilt before I sew them down by machine. When I first learned to stitch a binding on completely by machine, I was not happy with the way the back would look. Despite my best efforts at pinning or basting in the ditch, the stitching on the back of the quilt was always too far from the fold of the binding and usually was spaced very unevenly from the fold. Now as I am pressing the binding to the back, I glue it exactly where I want it so it just covers the stitching holding the binding to the front and then dry the glue with my iron. Nearly perfect bindings ever time!

Second most frequent use of this glue is for invisibly stitching two lengths of border together so the pattern on the fabric flows continuously across the seam. Since most commercial patterns have you cut your borders on the crosswise grain to save fabric, you will have to place a seam in any border longer than 40 inches or so. On a very busy print this is not a problem, but otherwise I find that the border screams “look at me” as the pattern is broken. Those of you who have sewn home dec items such as curtains or slip covers may have learned a technique for hiding the seams so the patterns will flow continuously across long runs of fabric. I have stolen that technique and use it in my borders. It does take more fabric than it would if I didn’t have this pet peeve, but much less than buying enough to cut the borders on the lengthwise grain. Glue basting helps me to get these seams placed perfectly so they are nearly invisible. I won’t go into the technique here, but if you don’t like those broken patterns it’s worth learning. Any book on home dec sewing will have the general explanation in it.

And the third common use for me is to help me get a perfect miter when I decide to miter my borders at the corner. I don’t do this often, mostly because the fabric I choose won’t compliment that miter enough to make it worth the effort. I no longer avoid the miters though since the glue makes them easy peasy.

I have heard from a few long time quilters that Elmer’s washable school glue is the same stuff that is sold under the name of a big name in quilting for a much higher price.

So…start watching for Elmer’s to be the loss leader at one of the big box stores and stock up!

If you have a school supply that you often use in your sewing room, please share the idea with us all.


  1. Joann Mc Gowan says:

    I like plastic pencil cases for storing and transporting my rotary cutters. I don’t worry that a blade will accidently cut a finger or two, and I can keep a straight blade in one color and a “pinking” blade in another.

    • Mary Ellen says:

      Great idea, I have a couple of those “slidey” cases with the snap that would be perfect for this. They now will be quilting cases!

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