You're piecing a quilt and lamenting how much time it takes, how much thread is lost, and how many times you've been stuck with a pin. (read more)
I get it, I've been there! With six quilts under my belt last year, I have spent many an hour at my sewing machine watching entire seasons of "New Girl", "That 70's Show", "Parks and Recreation", and "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt". I've started and finished all of those shows in the pursuit of not being completely bored while piecing.
I even did a bunch of research on the cheapest ways to stream, so I could have tons of TV to watch, or at least listen to.
Really, I don't mind doing it. I like seeing things come together, but it can get monotonous. I tend to dislike any activity where I can't seem to find a good rhythm, and I think I was having a hard time finding my groove with piecing.
I already did a post about glue basting vs pin basting, but it was the first time I'd glue basted, so I hadn't really gotten to experience the full benefit of this method.
Now that I've glue basted several hundred pieces of material, I'm an even bigger fan, if that's possible, and I want to share my findings with the world!
In a completely sane and rational way, mind you.
My old method of piecing was to take my two pieces of cloth, put them together with the right sides facing each other, then put a pin through the material in a couple of spots to keep it steady when I sewed.
So, pin the cloth, sew, cut the thread.
Rinse and repeat.
It doesn't sound like a big deal, and I didn't give it a second thought until I started glue basting. It's not even because the glue basting method is so much faster on the front end. If you read that post, I did a side by side comparison and the timing for basting and sewing one piece was almost equivalent within a tenth of a second or so.
But I didn't think about the things I could do with glue basting that I simply could not do with pin basting. Things that led to a huge time savings, and not only that, but a huge THREAD savings.
And we all know that saved thread = less money spent.
So, for this post, I went head to head with my newly preferred method just to show you how much TIME and MONEY you are going to save if you ditch the pins and pick up the Elmers.
What you see here are two sets of 40 blocks.
One set of blocks I decided to pin baste and sew per my normal method.
So, I put the two pieces together with the right sides facing one another, stuck in a couple of pins, sewed the seam, pulled the block off my machine, and trimmed the thread.
I was going to do this with all 40, and do the other 40 the other way (glue basting method), but honestly this was taking so long that I decided to time ten of each method instead and extrapolate from there.
Here's what it looked like when basting and sewing in my normal manner:
I'd already pulled the pins out in that picture, but as you can see, I have pulled the block away from the machine so I can trim the thread while still leaving enough thread to allow me to grab it and hold it tight when I ran the next block through.
For each block I sewed in this manner, I would have about three inches of material hanging off the end that I'd have to trim and drop into my discard pile. That three inches is a necessity because you have to have enough thread to hold on to before you sew the next piece.
If you don't hold the thread tight when starting a new block you run the risk of a giant bird's nest on the underside of your block. It's a complete pain in the butt.
This next picture is the amount of discarded thread I had for the ten blocks I sewed in this manner.
You've got approximately three inches of cone/spool thread and another three inches of bobbin thread being tossed out after each block. For ten blocks, that would be 60 INCHES of thread! Even if I were being conservative with my estimate and saying two inches of thread after each block, that's still 40 INCHES, more than three feet, just for ten blocks!
That's a heck of a lot of waste.
And what about time? This is how long it took me to do ten blocks in my old manner:
Keep that in your mind because I'm about to sway you right on over to the glue side of life.
Here's what I did when I sewed the same set of ten blocks after glue basting.
Do you see that?
I quite literally finished one block and pushed the next one right on through. One after another, like a little chain of quilt blocks.
I suppose you could do this with pins, but I don't think I would. I can only imagine the amount of pins falling to the floor or getting snagged as my chain of blocks got longer and longer.
You can already see this coming, but let me show you the amount of discarded thread on the ten blocks I glue basted.
I had the one long piece of thread initially since I had to have that length to get started, but after that, we're talking a half inch between blocks.
So let's do the math:
1/2 inch x 9 blocks = 4.5 inches x bobbin and cone = 9 inches
3 inches x 1 block = 3 inches x bobbin and cone = 6 inches
If my grade school brain is working correctly, that's 15 inches of thread discarded for 10 blocks.
Even if I were estimating conservatively on the pinning math, that's still 25 inches saved, and more like 45 inches.
Almost FOUR FEET of thread I'm not tossing out, PER TEN BLOCKS!
And, how long did it take this way?
I'm going to say it took me almost a minute less, and I say that because my son came in while I was doing this and needed something, so it set me back ten or 15 seconds.
A whole minute faster than pinning.
But wait, there's more!
With the glue basting method I can baste the blocks and toss them into a baggie to sew later on. I would NEVER do that with pinning. The pins would fall out, get snagged in material, get snagged on each other, and it would just turn into a giant pokey mess.
Glue basting is neat, clean, and just so much more efficient.
Now, a minute might not seem like a great deal of time, and 40-60 inches of thread might not seem like a great amount of thread, so I'm going to take this math even further and show you how much time I'm going to save over the ENTIRE piecing process.
Here we go:
Each block has 17 different strips.
There are 80 blocks total.
I'll be doing this method a total of 1280 times. (16x80 since I only need to sew once to piece the first two blocks)
Let's divide that by ten since my comparison was based on ten blocks.
Pin Basting would take:
422 minutes (or a little over seven hours)
Discards would equal - 7680 inches (or roughly 640 feet)
SIX HUNDRED AND FORTY FEET OF WASTED THREAD!
Let's do the same math for Glue Basting, starting with our 128 number we got by dividing by ten above:
307 minutes (that's with me using the inflated two minutes and 40 seconds number) or roughly 5.12 hours.
So you're saving yourself two hours.
Discards would equal - 1920 inches or approximately 160 feet.
160 feet, compared to 640 feet...
You're saving around 500 feet of thread. Thread you aren't throwing away. Thread you can use on other quilts!
Even factoring in the cost of purchasing Elmer's glue, even if you were breaking even on the thread when you factor in glue cost.
You're still saving yourself two hours.
That's a lot of time.
A lot of time that you're not getting stuck by pins, creating pin puckers if you don't pull the pins out before you sew, or accidentally nailing said pins with your sewing needle, bending the pins or even breaking your needle. All of these things can mess with how your material lays, making it more of a pain when it comes to quilting and squaring.
Glue basting just makes sense, and cents. :)
About The Author
I started quilting in June of 2018 after attending a quilt show in support of my
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