Tutorial: Glue-basting english paper piecing {hexies}

Lately I’ve been working on the La Passacaglia quilt from the book Millefiore Quilts by Willyne Hammerstein.

Rosette 1 continues. Those darn stars take for. Evar. #lapassacaglia #sherlockdoesepp A photo posted by Sarah Bailey ⚡ (@sewwhatsherlock) on

There’s always been quite a debate around whether to thread or glue baste. The very first time I english paper pieced I used thread but for me it’s really time-consuming and takes the fun out of it. So when I started La Passacaglia I gave glue-basting a try and I really prefer it.

2015-03-08 13.33.49 Required Materials:

  • Elmer’s glue stick, or sew line, etc. I’ve been using Elmer’s for my foundation paper piecing as well as EPP with no issues.
  • Fabric scraps. I’m using a mini-charm pack of Carolyn Friedlander’s Doe line. Which I love. A lot.
  • EPP papers. I printed mine at sewquickly.com


Step 1 – Glue paper to fabric

Put a dime-sized schmear of glue on the paper and center it on the back side of your fabric scrap.

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Step 2 – Glue the first fabric edge to the paper

Place a small dot of glue on the first fabric edge and fold it over, pressing hard, to both set the fold and also set the glue. Hold for about 10 seconds. You can do the next part while still holding.

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Step 3 – Glue the fold

I find it works best to glue the folded fabric where I’m about to fold over my next corner.

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Step 4 – Glue and fold over corner

Next, put a dab of glue on the fabric where the fold will overlap.

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Step 5 – Fold over the corner

Sorry, this photo is a couple of steps ahead, but you can see I’ve folded over the corners and they’re holding nicely.

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Step 6 – Continue gluing and folding

Glue and fold the rest of the corners around the paper shape, until you get to the last one.

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Step 7 – The last fold

On the last fold, just tuck under the fabric so that it’s tight. I used to reverse the natural flow of the fold to be consistent with the other folds, but that’s just an unnecessary step. Put a little dab of glue on the overhanging fold fabric and stick it down. You’re done!

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15 Responses to Tutorial: Glue-basting english paper piecing {hexies}

  1. 468 Ironwood Drive March 8, 2015 at 5:40 pm #

    You have inspired me to try glue!

    • Sarah Bailey March 9, 2015 at 10:03 am #

      Great, I hope you love it as much as I do!

  2. Liz F March 9, 2015 at 9:48 am #

    Thanks for the tutorial – I’ve been wondering about glue-basting! I have the templates but haven’t started this quilt yet. I was wondering how difficult it is to remove the papers with the glue-basting. Has that been a problem?

    • Sarah Bailey March 9, 2015 at 10:04 am #

      The reason I only glue fabric to paper 2x (at start, and first fold) is to make it easier to remove the papers. The very first time I glue basted I put it on all the folded edges where the fabric overlapped the paper and it was a nightmare. With these cardstock shapes it’s less important, but with the thinner papers you get from paperpieces.com you really have to limit glue/paper contact.

  3. elsabean March 9, 2015 at 9:53 am #

    I’ve done a few EPP, always with thread. I really want to do a Millefiori style quilt and this would make it so much faster. Thanks for the inspiration!

  4. Agnes March 30, 2015 at 3:53 pm #

    Thanks for posting this. I’ve been using a dot of glue on all sides but now I’m going to try doing just the folds!

    • Sarah Bailey March 30, 2015 at 3:57 pm #

      Let me know how it goes Agnes! I think it’s a bit of a misconception that the fabric has to be super tight on the hexie (which is why people glue fabric to paper, instead of just the fabric corners). I find that just gluing the corners holds it just fine. I press them after gluing but before sewing, and again after removing the papers, that helps a lot.

  5. dragonflyquiltworks April 5, 2015 at 12:15 pm #

    Sarah, I am just starting one of these quilts. Found your post while doing a Google search. Love your fabric choses. I have switched to glue basting also. Thanks for the inspiration. Lora

  6. daisyaschehoug May 25, 2015 at 9:37 am #

    I enjoy thread basting my hexies, but I’m trying something with smaller odd shaped pieces, and I’ll use your turorial for glue basting those. Thread basting those shapes hasn’t been fun. Thanks!

  7. tworoadstothemiddleofnowhere June 1, 2016 at 2:58 pm #

    This is great! I use exactly this method but I use Plastic Pieces templates by Ormkraft. They pop out of my projects easily and are completely reusable. I’ve tried this method with paper and I have to throw away most of the papers when I’m done. With the Plastic Pieces, my corners are sharp and crisp every time. You can find these templates on their FB page at http://www.facebook.com/ormkraft

  8. Marie September 4, 2016 at 6:04 am #

    Glue-basting certainly would be faster than thread, but I would be concerned about the long-term effects on the quilt. All that purple goop doesn”t just vanish… I think I’ll stick to thread.

    • Sarah Bailey September 4, 2016 at 7:31 am #

      Marie, I don’t really expect to change your mind, but just to set the record straight the glue dries clear, and you can also buy clear gluesticks. The glue is also machine washable, so if you intend to wash the quilt it’s not a problem. And for that matter, even if you don’t it’s probably going to be a wall hanging, and no one would ever know. But to each her own!

    • Myra September 5, 2016 at 7:26 pm #

      The “purple” in the glue vanishes within minutes – which is how long it takes for the glue to dry. There is no visible residue and by the time I go to sew my templates together, the purple is gone and the thread slides smoothly through the fabric. The glue is water based (for school!) and washes out completely. There are no “long term effects” to our children or quilts! 🙂 I’ve been using this method for about 7 years and I recommend Ormkraft plastic hexagons. You can reuse them and they work great with the glue basting.

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