Friday, July 5, 2013

Hexagons: Thread or Glue Basting?

I love hexagons and hexagon quilts.  I have several different sizes of hexagon paper pieces and have made a few flowers for different projects that are in the works.

I have always basted my hexagons with needle and thread.  I don't sew through the papers; I just fold over the corners and tack them.

I thought I had come up with a faster method when I bought these little Clover clips. 

The paper always seemed to slip out of my first corner until I started using one of these clips to hold down the first corner while I worked my way around the hexagon with needle and thread.

Then the other day I was in Back Door Quilts.  I asked one of the girls there what type of needle she used to baste her hexagons around the papers.  And, then she showed me this:  She glue bastes them on with the Sewline glue pen.  I was amazed because I had never seen anyone do this before.

 This is really so much faster than thread basting.  As you add more hexagons and work your way out from the center hexagon, you just remove the center most paper.  Then the paper can be used over several more times.  I can see where this could take a lot of glue if you are working on a large project.  A friend told me that I could buy refills for my Sewline glue pen at JoAnns.  With a coupon they are really affordable. 

If you are just making a hexagon or hexagon flower to applique' onto a background fabric, you can always use a Needle Gripper to reach underneath and remove the paper.  The Needle Gripper can also be purchased at JoAnns.  (Don't forget your coupons!)  I also don't see why you couldn't press the edges of the hexagons, remove the papers, and then applique' them.

To fussy cut instead of buying a plastic template, I made my own template out of index cards.  I traced one of the hexagon papers onto the index card and then measured out 3/8" on each side, connected the lines and cut.  I know most people recommend a 1/4" to turn under, but I like to have a little extra so that I can center my motif.  I made two because I knew if I only had one, I would never be able to find it!

This way I have a window so that I can see what the hexagon will look like after it is basted.

I've done a few of these, and I think the glue basting is going to make hexagons a lot faster to sew.

If anyone else out there has glue basted instead of stitching, I'd love to hear from you.

When I take a lot of my blog photos, a lot of times I spread a piece of white flannel over one of my chairs and place it by the window so that the light reflects off of the flannel to make the photos brighter.  This is my helper, Tiki.  I guess he thought that I was making a little bed for his afternoon nap.

I hope you are finding some time to stitch today. 

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!  


  1. Very clever tips - and a cute kitty!

  2. I've heard about the glue instead of basting, but haven't ventured to try it yet. Is there no stiffness to the fabric after they have been glues? Does the glue have a very strong odor? Those have been my major concerns.

  3. Thanks for the tips with Sewline pen.
    I like Hexagonquilts very much too and i try to make without the clips.

  4. LOVE your fussy cut hexies! Sue Dailey recommends glue basting hexies. I haven't tried it yet, but glad to hear that you like it. I like the idea of pressing and then removing the paper. Why not? So many projects, so little time.

  5. yes I have heard of glue basting, but not tried it. We are always very behind, here in England. I have not seen the Sewline pen, but when it eventually hits these shores, it will be very expensive.
    One of my favourite bloggers, Karen used a glue stick very sparingly and that was a success.
    You might have seen "Faeries and Fibres", it's a lovely blog with lots of neat ideas and techniques for EPP.

  6. Great tips and pics...Thank you Luann

  7. Hi LuAnn...we glue here, it is quicker, is water soluble...just don't use too much or the papers are harder to get out! Have fun!

  8. I did a table runner with hexies, and Elmer's school glue. I was very please with the results, and the glue was inexpensive and easily available. Using glue was the only way for me ~
    :-} pokey

  9. I've tried both thread and glue, I agree the SewLine glue sticks are expensive, I've tried using the school glue sticks (not sure of the brand here in Australia) just check to make sure it is water soluble and only use a minimal amount.

  10. Very nice post Luann..I like your hexies..

  11. Hi Luanne
    I use the SewLine Glue sticks. Fabulous. For those interested you might like to take a look at the - From Sue Daley on utube.

  12. You show a picture of the Fons and Porter Glue Stick refills and the Sewline Glue Pen. Does the Fons and Porter Glue Stick refills fit the Sewline Glue Stick Pen?

  13. HI, LuAnn
    I'm an admitted hex addict and I have used the glue stick method - and Sewline is the best glue I've tried - not as clumpy and you can use the edge of the stick and get a small line that holds the fabric. The F&P refill seems softer and it clumps more (I put it in the fridge before I used it and it was better, but not great). Also, after a while, if you haven't sewn/attached your hexies to each other, both kinds of the glue starts releasing and you have to re-glue.
    My favorite method is still the corner-tack method like you - not through the paper- straw needle #10, and I love the YLI hand quilting thread to baste and whip-stitch together (it doesn't seem to tangle as much; I just use an ecru for my light fabrics, and lt. brown for darker). I do admit that it's easier to use the glue when you are fussy-cutting/placing, then go back and tack.
    Oh, and I use a single applique pin to hold the paper to get started.
    Thanks for sharing, I love your blocks!

  14. If I only had more hands and more time I would join in on the fussy cut hexie rage because I love them!!!

  15. Love the fussy cut hexies. Thanks for the index card idea. I have not used the glue much because it seems overpriced. Maybe I'll need to reevaluate.

  16. I don't like to do hexies because of the time it takes to baste around them. After what you just posted I may have to try them again. the glue seems like a good idea and the use of the little clips makes a good use of them!

  17. Thanks! I am going to have to try this method. I have always felt all thumbs paper piecing small hexagons. I am hoping this will work for me ... :) Pat

  18. What a good idea. I have used paperclips, but this is even better!

  19. I have tried both methods. Each is good all depending on the project.
    Please dont show such beautiful hexies, you'll get me started again!

  20. I have stitched basted about 10 hexies.........glues my glue pen........wouldn't be bothered to do EPP without the glue pen..........have the fussy hexies too........

  21. Perfect post and I love your hexagons

  22. I made over 1000 hexagons for the final border of my Mrs Billings quilt using the glue method. It is quick and particularly good if you want a nice sharp edge for appliquing. Don't use too much glue and do use an "orange stick" to gently prise the fabric from the paper. I have tried a round tooth pick but the fabric did become quite raggy. I used the Sue Daley papers which are the perfect weight and can be reused. Hope this helps.

  23. Darling fussy cut hexies! Me likey. I don't tack or glue. If i'm making a lot I use Inklingo [], and if only a few dozen or so, then use FP running it thru the printer to print the shape and rotary to cut apart.
    LOVE your hexies. Great post. Thank you... I want to give the glue pen a try.

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  25. Glue is great! I have been using it with my hand appliqué. It's sooo much faster!

    A tip for your hexie papers. I hole punched mine right in the middle of them and it makes it easier to get them out/loose.

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  28. Hi LuAnn
    Hmmm.... I started my patchwork life doing EPP - I was self taught from Averil Colby's Patchwork book and so I didn't know any other way, but that was 44 years ago! Then I learnt American piecing and didn't return to EPP until the last 2 years (in the 80's and 90's you did not admit to EPP it was seen as somewhat old fashioned! and now it would seem to be all the rage). I do not glue partly because of stitching together through thickened fabric and partly because the corners start to lift so that by the time you have pieced a whole load of hexies together there is a lot of bulk and it's difficult to get them all laying flat in the right direction. So by stitching the corners (without going through the paper) you don't have to baste down again to keep the hexie flat on the back because the thread stays in.

    Another tip - for those using Liberty Tana Lawn and fabrics of different thicknesses, always reinforce your edge when stitching your hexies together, because the thread will eventually cut the fabric threads because there is a lot of drag on the fabric once you remove the papers - you do this by placing two hexies face to face and whip stitch in one corner then lay the thread along the edge you are about to stitch together and make a stitch in the next corner then whip stitch back along the edge to the first corner and hey presto a reinforced and very strong edge. You will not see your reinforcing thread because this has been caught "inside" your whip stitch - believe me it is very strong - I still have my first quilt from 44 years ago and not one piece has come away from the other.

    Also not a good idea to stitch hexies together without the templates inside, they will lose shape very quickly and you never get a nice neat and crisp edge.

    Hope you are keep ing well

    Fiona in England


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