My friend Gayle called the other day to ask the name of that glue stick I use. I thought it would be a good idea to present my distilled experience with glue sticks and fabric.
Glue gives you a third hand. It anchors fabric until it can be secured with stitching. The right type of glue makes it easier to do hand applique, attach bindings, baste for paper piecing, etc. These are the glue sticks I personally recommend for use on fabric:
I received the Avery Glue Pen as part of some office supply promotion. It sat in a drawer until 2005, when I decided to teach myself hand applique. By the time I realized that the pen was handy for turning under the raw edges of fabric during the applique process, I could no longer find it in stores. Darn! I carefully rationed the one I had.
When I realized that I was not going to be able to buy more Avery Glue Pens, I started to experiment with glue sticks from office supply stores. Some just made a big mess. The fabric frayed and I got threads stuck all over my fingertips. The “purple disappearing” sticks seemed to hold the most promise. Not all purple disappearing glue sticks have exactly the right consistency to play well with textiles. I eventually discovered the Elmer’s School Glue Stick. I have been completely satisfied with this brand for many years.
Elmer’s School Glue Stick is acid free. It glides on easily and is not too sticky. It washes out easily with plain water. The glue is purple until it dries, which makes it easy to see where it has been applied. Best of all, it is easily available.
One day, I was headed to a sit and stitch group. I had everything I needed to sew happily for hours EXCEPT my precious glue stick. (Gasp!) I stopped at the local pharmacy and found my trusty Elmer’s in the office supply section.
The Elmer’s stick was fine for me, but what about my students? Wouldn’t they find the narrow profile of the Avery glue pen much easier to use? I was almost at the point of contacting someone at a quilt-related company to beg them to take up the task of producing a glue pen especially for quilters when I spied the Fons & Porter Glue Pen in a catalog. Great! Someone else had noticed how wonderfully the glue held the fabric and that the skinny shape made it easy to apply to tiny areas. Do you notice that the Fons & Porter version is exactly the same size and shape as the original from Avery? I think they must have bought the factory.
You can get refills for the Fons & Porter Glue Pen.
I received a free sample Lapel Stick directly from the manufacturer. They wanted me to give it a try, and recommend it to others based on my experience. The consistency is just right for working with fabric. It is no better or worse than the Elmer’s. It does cost a little more. It will not be available at an office supply store. You’ll have to get it from a quilt shop, or online. I checked with the manufacturer and yes indeed, it is acid free. So it is safe to use on sewing projects that will not be washed.
Feel free to experiment with other glue sticks. Buy only ONE until you’re sure it’s a winner. Then stock up!