Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Glue Basting Basics

Today I'm guest posting over at Amy Smart's blog: Diary of a Quilter. I'm so honored to be her guest and share my love of glue basting with more quilters. Here's my post for Amy's blog. I hope you enjoy it, too!

Hi everyone! I'm Cristy Fincher. I have a fun blog called Sew Much Like Mom where I share my favorite sewing and quilting techniques. I also have an online shop called Purple Daisies, where I sell wonderful sewing and quilting tools, as well fabulous tutorials and patterns by my mom, Master Quilter, Sharon Schamber. I'm so excited to be visiting Amy's blog and to share my love of glue basting with you!

Glue basting is one of my favorite sewing and quilting tools. It helps me with efficiency and accuracy when I sew, which makes me happier with my results. Most of the time, when I mention glue basting to new quilters, or to experienced quilters who are new to me, I see confused looks come over their faces. But, they change their tunes really fast when they see what can be done with glue basting, and how much it can improve their results. 

My mom introduced me to glue basting when she taught me how to appliqué, 14 years ago. Since then, my love for glue basting has only grown, and I find uses for it in almost every sewing or quilting project. Here are just a few of the things I use glue basting for: precise piecing, appliqué, curved seams, zippers, bindings, and clothing. There are many many more uses for it, too. Basically, you can use glue basting almost anywhere you would use pins or clips.

Elmer's Washable School Glue, topped with a Fine Glue Tip, is my go-to for glue basting. The Elmer's glue is easy to find in local stores, especially just before school starts, like now. (If you live outside of the US, I sell Elmer's in my shop, and happily ship it to you.) The Fine Glue Tips are manufactured by my mom and her husband, and fit perfectly on the 4oz bottles of Elmer's. They're made from clog resistant plastic, and I find that they clog much less often than other glue tips out there.

There are other products out on the market that can be used for glue basting. I've tried virtually all of them, but the Elmer's Washable School Glue and Fine Tips combo is, by far, my favorite. 

The accuracy that I can achieve with glue basting, is addiciting. I love when my points match! I know you'll love it too!

Pretty, right?!

Glue basting is so simple:
  • Simply draw a fine line of glue inside on the inside of your seam allowance. I draw mine about 1/8" from the selvage. The glue shouldn't be right on your seam line.

  • Line up, or nest, the next piece with your first.  Be sure that all edges are lined up, just as you would if you were pinning.  Then, heat set the glued edge with a hot dry iron. Heat setting dries the glue completely, and just takes a quick second or two because the line of glue is so fine and thin. The heat setting also prevents any shifting. Awesome, right? Immediately, you'll experiece more accuracy in your sewing and piecing.

  • Then sew as usual. When I piece, I prefer 1.6-1.8 stitch length. After sewing, press to the side.

That's it! Super easy! If you want to see glue basting in action, I have some videos for you to watch on YouTube.

This is usually when I'm asked many different questions about the effect of glue basting. You might be asking yourself some of the same questions, so I'll try to answer most of them for you.
  • Will the glue ruin my iron? No. Absolutely not. Elmer's Washable School Glue, is water soluble. If any glue were to get on your iron, it washes off easily.
  • Will the glue gum up my needle? No. Absolutely not. As long as you apply the glue close to the selvage, you wouldn't be sewing through the glue. Even if you did get the glue close to the seam line (like with appliqué), sewing through it is no problem at all because you heat set the glue. Heat setting dries the glue quickly making it no longer gummy.
  • Will the glue wash out of my quilt? Yes, it sure will. I always recommend washing quilts with the textile detergent, Synthrapol.
  • Do I need to pin when I glue baste? No. In almost all situations, glue basting replaces the need for pins. 
  • Can I glue baste if I press my seams open? Yes, if the seam needs to be opened you can easily pull the seam apart or use a sewing stiletto to open the seams. In most cases, I would encourage you to press to the side. Pressing your seams to the side will make your quilts stronger, putting the strength of your quilt in the fibers of fabric as well as in the thread. This protects the seam and creates a stronger hold. When you press your seams open, the strength of your seam is only as strong as your thread. Open seams run the risk of popping with dense quilting, washing, wear and with time. There are times to press a seam open, for example: mitered corners and binding strips, but in most cases pressing to the side is a wiser choice.
  • Is glue basting faster than pinning, or just sewing and "going for it", without pins, at the machine? I believe so, yes. Glue basting may take a bit more time, before you get to the machine. Any extra time is made up by how quickly and effiently you'll be able to sew everything together. The time you use to spend having to unpick and resew mismatched seams will be virtually gone. Sometimes faster isn't better. Sometimes good technique and efficiency is better, expecially if you're happier in the end.
  • Can I use this type of glue basting to baste my quilts before quilting? No. This type of glue basting is not recommended for basting your quilts.
If you only try one new thing to improve any aspect of your sewing or quilting, please let it be glue basting. I think you'll love it as much as I do!

Here are some examples of my favorite ways to use glue basting:

Glue basting and machine pieced hexagons are a match made in heaven! (Tutorial coming soon on my blog!)

Prepping my strips with glue basting, before sewing, makes chain piecing more accurate and pretty darn quick.

Glue basting to attach rows together keeps my points matched up, and I never accidently sew over pins.

 Glue basting makes Paperless Paper Piecing possible. This technique will rock your world!

I use glue basting with Piec-lique to make any type of curve, including inset circles.

When I glue baste my appliqué pieces to the background fabric, I can easily sew them down by hand or by machine. Without pins in my applique pieces, I get no puckers or distortion. Love!

Using the Fine Tips on Liquid Stitch (permanent fabric glue), replaces the need for fusibles with raw-edge appliqué.

I also glue baste when I make clothing. Here, I used glue basting to attach the binding/strap onto the edge of the bodice of a dress for my daughter.

Quilt bindings is probably the most popular place to use glue basting, largely due to my mom's wonderful binding video. The best part of the video is at the end, when my mom shows you how to do that final join for the binding strips. It's life changing!

When I glue baste my binding, I can stitch it down by machine or by hand, without the need for any pins or clips. It stays in just the right place, until I sew it down. Magic!

If you have the fine glue tips, my favorite way to keep the clogs away is to use the thick end of a price tag holder. Clip off about an inch and put the stick of it into the glue tip to prevent clogs. To make it easy to find on your pressing board, you can color the "T" of it with a Sharpie, or put a washi tape flag on it. (Big thanks to my friend Becca at SewPixie for these fabulous ideas.)

Glue basting can be a life changing tool. It might take a little bravery to give it a try, and when you do, I'll bet you'll never go back! 

Thank you for joining me today! Come visit me at Sew Much Like Mom, sometime soon! You can also find me on InstaGram, Flickr, and Pinterest as CristyCreates.

Happy Stitchin'

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Easy Steps to Join Binding Strips

Have you watched, and tried my mom's amazing binding technique? Whether you love or dislike (maybe dislike a lot) sewing the binding onto your finished quilt, my mom's technique is life changing. My favorite part is the simple way she joins the strips of binding. In essence, the technique she uses is a simple version of Paperless Paper Piecing. Her method is fast, easy, and accurate. You don't have to fuss with cutting the ends at a perfect angle and you won't need a single pin. Amazing, right?!

Here are the basic steps to join the strips together:

1. Fold one end of a strip over at a 45* angle (or as close to it as you can). Press to make a nice, sharp crease.
2. Draw a fine line of glue close to the folded edge.
3. Line up the next strip with the first. The second strip should be parallel to and overlap the first strip.
4. Heat set with a dry, hot iron.
5. Open the crease to expose the sewing line. 
6. Sew right on the crease.
7. Pull apart the flaps of fabric to release the glue. Do this just like you would if you're opening a stick of string cheese, or a band-aid.
8. Trim the seam allowance to about a 1/4".
9. Press the seam open.

That's it! Easy peasy!! I hope this helps you make your binding better than ever. Please feel free to share this on your Facebook page, Instagram account and on Pinterest. 

Here's the full video of my mom's binding technique:

Enjoy and Happy Stitchin'!!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

QuiltCon 2015: I'm teaching and I can't wait!

QuiltCon 2013 was an incredible experience. It was nonstop fun and alive with energy. Returning for 2015 was definite for me, but this time will be a little different, in the best of ways.

10 years ago, I started my business, Purple Daisies, LLC. My mom's (Sharon Schamber) quilting career was growing larger by the day, and I knew that online exposure was the next step for her. I started selling her patterns and designs on an eBay store, then opened my own online store. Starting my own business was one of the best decisions I have ever made. When I began, I was pregnant with my son. Once he was born, I was able to stay home with him, be "Mom", and grow my business.

I quickly began teaching many of my mom's classes and designs locally, regionally and nationally. I also began vending at quilt shows to spread the word about our techniques and support my mom's teaching. I have over 60 quilt shows under my belt.

My daughter Molly was born in 2007. Her birth changed everything. She came into this world with multiple heart defects. Her first open heart surgery was just 7 days after her birth. (You can read about her story here.) Molly needed me to be home with her. I had a to make a choice: to keep teaching and traveling multiple times a month, or just vend at quilt shows several times a year. The decision was easy. I stuck with the quilt shows. I still had a presence in the quilting world, was able to grow and establish my online business, and be home with my baby girl.

Fast forward to QuiltCon 2013. I was vending, and having a blast. I demonstrated free-motion quilting, Piec-lique, shared my love of glue basting, met so many new friends, and learned all about InstaGram ;). While doing my vendor 'thang, I had the overwhelming feeling come over me that I needed to travel and teach again. At the show, I would often be asked where I was teaching next, when I would demonstrate a technique or speak about some tips and tricks. I could see the path lay out before me. Teaching at QuiltCon became part of my path, and a goal I set out to reach.

After a lot of hard work over the past year, I've begun teaching again. I'm still vending at quilt shows here and there, as well. The best news is: I'M TEACHING AT QUILTCON 2015!!!!

I feel like it's all come full circle, and I couldn't be happier. I think you're going to love the classes I have planned. I'm going to share lots of tips, tricks and fun little things to help you with all aspects of your quilting. It's going to be a blast. Here's a little sneak peek of my classes:

Intro to Piec-lique:
Piec-lique, and glue basting, makes curved seams easy and simple.

This little quilt is made of 4 blocks of my "Flow" design. In class, you'll work on one Flow block using any color combination you'd like. Once you learn how to make one, adding on is easy. These blocks are fun to flip around and rearrange in all sorts of ways. You'll receive both a right and left block pattern, making it even more fun to create.

Intro to Paperless Paper-Piecing:
Paperless Paper-Piecing is limitless! With this design of mine called "Folded", I'll show you how to create and precisely "paper-piece" the design while taking you beyond the limits of paper foundations. In class, you'll make one block. This block can be flipped and flopped into many configurations. I think you're going to love it!

Technical Tips & Tricks:
This class is all about easy and simple ways to improve all aspects of your sewing and quilting. I'll share all sorts of fun tips, tricks and even some of my favorite sewing secrets as you create your own version of my "Big Sister's Star" block. This is one class not to be missed!

Registration for QuiltCon 2015 opens soon! Here are some dates for you:
June 24, 2014 - Registration opens for members of the Modern Quilt Guild.
July 1, 2014 - Registration opens for the general public.

I can't wait to see you at QuiltCon!


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Scrappy Drunkard's Path: Piec-lique Tutorial

Hi Everyone!!

My friend Melissa (WeShallSew on Instagram) tagged me in a picture asking about a way to glue baste individual Drunkard's Path blocks. She is one of my biggest glue basting supporters, so of course I wanted to help. I started taking pics, thinking 2 or 3 might be enough, and I'd just post them on Instagram for her. Yeah, no. That didn't work out. Those 2-3 pics turned into 16, which might as well be a complete tutorial to share with everyone.

A while back, I posted a tutorial on making an inset Piec-lique circle, and showed how to cut it into quarters to make individual Drunkard's Path blocks. This technique is wonderful if you're going to have multiples of the same color combos in your finished quilt. Although, it probably won't suit your needs if you're going for a scrappy look.

Many of us have favorite cutting templates and rulers for Drunkard's Path blocks, but actually sewing the arches can make all of the hard work that we put into cutting so accurately be tossed out the window. There are many techniques out there for sewing these beloved blocks together. In addtion, there are also special feet for your machine. I encourage you to find what works best for you. For me, it's Piec-lique. I am additicted to it's accuracy. I love how easy it is, too.  And I don't have to use a single straight pin. Yep, not a one.

Piec-lique is such a versatile technique. It can really be used for so many designs, including the Drunkard's Path. Many moons ago, my mom made a pattern and tutorial called LeAnn's Pinwheel. It comes with pre-printed templates, and very detailed instructions to walk you through using Piec-lique to make Drunkard's Path blocks. What I'm going to show you here, is a slight variation of my mom's tutorial. My tutorial is meant to specifically help you whether you have my mom's pattern, or not.

If you scroll through this tutorial, you might think to yourself, "No way, Cristy! That's too many steps. It's going to take too long. I'll just keep doing it my old way." All I ask is for you to give it a try. I know the pain that a lot of you go through to make Drunkard's Path blocks, only to have the edges of the quarter circles not match up, even though you *know* that you cut it just right. I've seen picture upon picture of people ripping out stitches, or showing how they're just frustrated and unhappy with how their blocks turned out. It's not you. It's the chosen technique. This technique gives you accuracy and precision, without needing to buy additional tools, sewing machine feet, rulers or acrylic templates, which can all be very pricey. Give it a go. You might just like it. ;)

Before I get started, if you're not familiar with Piec-lique I highly recommend reading my post on the Piec-lique circle. In an effort to keep this tutorial as short as possible, I'm going to refer to information here, that is explained in more detail in the other post.


  1. Washable Basting Glue, with a fine tip.
  2. Spray Starch and a small cup/bowl. I prefer Faultless.
  3. Small stencil brush
  4. Freezer Paper
  5. Scissors - fabric and paper
  6. Rotary cutter and mat
  7. Iron - hot & dry
  8. Fabric of choice
  9. Sewing machine - I use 50wt cotton thread and 75/11 machine embriodery needles
Step 1: Create Your Template on Freezer Paper
If you're not comfortable with creating your own template, my mom's pattern comes with pre-printed templates. You can make multiple copies of them as well.

There are multiple ways to make your own:
  • Draw one, by hand, using Drunkard's Path rulers or your favorite templates.
  • Print one from a quilting program, like EQ.
  • Create your own in PhotoShop, Illustrator, or your favorite drawing program.
The template should be the unfinished size of your block, which will include the seam allowances. If you're block is 4", unfinished, the template should measure the same 4". 

This is a pre-printed template from LeAnn's Pinwheel.
Draw or print your template onto one piece of freezer paper. Be sure to preshrink your freezer paper, first! (I talk about this in the circle post.) To preshrink, lightly spray the paper side of the freezer paper with spray starch, and press with a hot, dry iron. You'll notice it "pulling" in length, not width. Press it until it's dry and is pressed flat to your pressing board. While it's still warm, gently peel it off your board. At this point, it's ready to draw or print your template onto. 

After you've put your template onto the freezer paper, iron this piece to the top of another preshrunk piece of freezer paper. Remember, shiny sides down!! Making your template from two pieces of freezer paper will make it stronger, last longer, and reusable.

Then cut your template apart to make the outer arch, and the inside arch/quarter circle. Be sure to cut that curve slowly and carefully, to make it as smooth as possible.

Step 2: Preparing Your Fabric
The Drunkard's Path block, that I'm making here, is 4" unfinished. So, I cut some scraps to 4". 
Please note that this is not the only way to cut your fabrics for this method. Find the best way for you, whether it be to cut a bunch of squares at a time, or to use your favorite templates. My goal here is to show you an easy and accurate way to piece them together.

Next, line up the 90* edges of each template piece to the edge of the fabric. Press in place with your iron, to make the freezer paper adhere to the fabric (Don't worry, it's only temporary. The freezer paper will peel right off). 

Then, trim away the excess from the inside arch, and the outside arch, leaving about 1/2" seam allowance to work with (don't worry, we'll trim it to a nice and tidy 1/4" after we sew).

Step 3: Turning the Edge
At this point, go ahead and spray some spray starch into a little bowl, or even the lid of your can of starch. Dip your stencil brush in the starch, and paint a bit along the edge of the fabric, very close to the edge of the template.

With your fingers, gently pull the seam allowance back against the template, and press it with your iron as you go. (I'm sorry that you can't see my fingers here, but I had to hold the camera and my iron with my only two available hands ;) ). This will create a very smooth crease along the edge of the template.

Be sure that the both ends of the curve are pressed right against the template. This is where I find most mistakes are made. Often, people miss pressing the ends up to the edge of the template, which will make it wing out, and create a wonky block (and not the good kind of wonky).

Oh yeah! Look at that! Nice and smooth. The starch helps make the crease crisp and accurate. And it helps the seam allowance to lay flat.

Step 4: Putting Your Block Together
Peel the freezer paper templates off of the fabric. I find that it's easier if the freezer paper is still warm from the iron. If it's cooled off, give it a quick tap of the iron, and the templates will come off easily.

Draw a fine line of glue close to the ege of the piece that has the allowance turned back.

Lay the piece with the turned seam allowance on your cutting mat, right at the corner. (If you prefer, you can put the glue on your piece, once it's on your mat.)

Lay the outside arch on top of the inside arch, while making sure to line everything up to that unfinished measurement that you decided on earlier (mine is 4").

Don't worry if you have to adjust it a bit. The glue will stay tacky long enough for you to get it in the right spot. I promise that this part will go really quick after the 3rd or 4th time.

Move the block to your pressing surface and heat set the glue, with a quick tap of your iron.

Step 5: Sewing Your Block Together
Clip the seam allowance to open it up for sewing.

See that sweet crease right there? That's your sewing line. You don't have to worry about maintaining a 1/4" as you sew. You simply keep your needle going down the path created for it by the crease. Start at one end of the crease, and stitch down to the other. I highly recommed doing this slowly, especially the first few times. Staying on the crease is key! If you'd like, go ahead and backstitch at the beginning and end.

Remember how I recomended making the seam allowance on this extra wide? Now it's a tool for you. As you're sewing, you can hold onto the edge with your fingers or a pair of angled tweezers, to give you a bit more control.

As you're sewing, be sure to check on the fabric underneath, to avoid making puckers.

And it's sewn!

Now, you can trim your seam allowance to a cute little 1/4".

Give your block a final press. And if you'd like, lay it back on your mat to make sure it's still the right size. If it's not, then somewhere during sewing you probably veered off of the creased line. Check your sewing line, and if necessary, you can easily fix it, buy pulling out a few stitches and resewing along the crease.

If you'd like to make blocks where the outer arch has the turned seam allowance, and the inner arch isn't turned, you can apply the same steps, but switch up which piece you turn in Step 4. You can make blocks that alternate which arch is turned, which can make nesting and piecing multiple blocks together a bit easier as well.

That's it! I hope you give this a try. It will be a great addition to your repitoire of techniques.

Happy Stitchin'!!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Double Wedding Ring QAL: Sewing the Apple Core Units

A couple of months ago, I filmed the videos for the Double Wedding Ring QAL, along with several other video tutorials. When I played them back for editing, the videos were garbled and unusable. I was so frustrated (and may or may not have taken it out on my video camera). I had spent all of that time making videos for you, to only discover that I had been talking to myself.

I bought myself a new camera, only find out (after opening it) that it didn't have the attachment for a tripod. What?! What camera, these days, comes without a tripod attachment? I decided to make it work, and used it to film the rest of the Double Wedding Ring videos. With the help of lots of double stick tape, the new camera stuck to the tripod, just long enough to finish the videos. I wish you could have seen the comedy of it all. But, I got it done! Whew!

Without further ado, let's make those apple core units! We're getting so close to being finished! After this part, we'll make our rows of apple core units, then assemble those into an acutal quilt.

Assembling the Apple Core Units:
This step relies on skills you've learned in previous videos: using the layout template, glue basting, and using the crease as your seam guideline.

For each apple core unit you'll need:

  • 2 assembled melon wedge pieces
  • 1 center piece
  • Basting Glue
  • Hot, dry iron
The full layout template needs to be pressed flat to a hard pressing surface, or securely anchored with pins. Take one melon wedge unit, and anchor it with pins to it's place on the template. Be sure to have the "A" arch pointing toward the center of the unit. Do the same with the second unit.

By lining up the intersection of arch A & B, to the corresponding intersection, on the template, you'll achieve the best results. The black lines should just barely peek out from under the edge of the farbic.

Next, you'll draw a fine line of glue on the edges of each "A" arch, then lay your center piece in place. Be sure to heat set the glue, after placing your center piece.

It looks so nice from the front!

Before sewing the arches to the center, along the crease of arch A, you'll need to do a little clipping to open up the seam. The video walks you through it in detail. These pictures will give you an idea of how to do the clipping.

You'll need to clip along the previously sewn seam line, and through the two layers of fabric: the arch and the center.

Blunt tipped scissors are highly recommended.

With your scissors parallel to the seam line, clip next to the seam, up to the arch A/center seam. Be careful not to poke through. This is why blunt scissors are important. (I apologize for the awkward position of my thumb. Taking pictures one handed, is not easy ;). The scissors kept wanting to fall to the side. )

And now it's open and ready to sew!

From the front, you can't see the clipping.

The last step is to sew the seams where the "A" arches meet the center. This is very similar to how you stitched the melon wedge units together. Be sure to watch the video, for some helpful hints. You'll repeat this process for each of your apple core units.  

And that's it! You've done it! 

Next up, I'll share how to assemble the apple core units into rows.

Thank you for stopping by!
Happy Stitchin'!