I am a bit of a sucker for different gadgets and gizmos – anything to make life a little easier. As an example, I used to find joining the ends of binding a bit tricky – until I bought the binding tool. That certainly made life easier (although, truth be told, since then I’ve found an even easier way to join the ends of binding).

I resisted buying one of the fabric glue pens for some time; I’m not against using glue on fabric – I have done a couple of workshops where a glue stick has been on the equipment list and I’ve been happy to use it. However, I did wonder about the fabric glue pen. I’ve been sewing for over 40 years, and I’ve used pins and tacked with thread. I’ve spent many, many hours tacking hexagons and diamonds for different quilts, and I do find it quite relaxing.

What led me to trying the glue pen I hear you ask? Even if you weren’t asking, I’m going to tell you! Those who have read my previous blogs will have seen that I’ve been doing the Alice Caroline Flower Garden BOM (Block of the Month), and I had two months prepared for tacking at the Bloggerati retreat in November – ready to sit and hand tack them. I finally finished the second of the boxes in mid January, so by the end of the third week of January I was ready to tackle the next box. I decided to try using the glue pen as why have one and not use it? Another reason was that I didn’t want yet another Block of the Month hanging over me waiting months (if not years) to be finished – it is really about following my word for the year (see my previous blog). It usually takes me at least a week to hand tack all the pieces for this BOM – because I do it in the evening for about 3 or 4 hours. A social life then limits these hours a little – and by social life I mean panto rehearsals, town council meetings, committee meetings, Paediatric First Aid training…all the things I find myself doing at the start of this year.

Pieces cut, ready for basting
Lots of templates ready

Even the instructions of the BOM show you how to prepare the EPP pieces using a glue pen, so I set to it. Once I’d done one or two pieces, I developed my own rhythm. I found that it helped to have a little glue on the back of the template, so the fabric didn’t move around. For the first side, I used glue on only half of the edge: this was so that I could tuck the final corner in once I’d secured the other sides, and they all went in the same direction. For all the other sides I glued the entire side and then secured the fabric, taking each side one at a time.

Some glue on the back to stop the template from slipping
Securing the sides

So far so good – the glue pen was easy enough to use; I used almost 2 glue refills for 2 ½ blocks of the BOM (the requirements for the month). Using the glue pen certainly sped up the process of getting the pieces ready for sewing together, and I was able to get very crisp sharp edges.

One finished piece – and the glue doesn’t show through the fabric
Result! Preparing this little pile didn’t take long at all

The real test of how well the glue pen works comes with sewing the pieces together. This BOM uses Liberty tana lawn – a very fine lightweight cotton, and so I did find it a bit tricky to get enough fabric on the needle to be able to whip stitch the pieces together; this can be an issue when I use thread to tack the pieces, as I do like a very crisp, tight edge. I can probably improve on this next time, by not having the glue right up to the edge of the template; and this is something I’ve found a little more awkward throughout the making of these blocks. I also found that the glue started to unstick a little in some places when I was sewing the hexagons together. This is easily rectified by a little more glue, and isn’t a big problem, until it happens on an outside piece. Using the glue does make all those pesky corner ears of triangles and diamonds behave nicely together! It is a good reason for having a second glue pen close at hand when sewing the pieces together.

Conclusion? I’ll keep on using the glue pen for this BOM as long as it works for me – I want to get it finished so it isn’t another PHD (Project Half Done), because I’ve got enough of those already! I’ve gone all in with the glue pen – I’ve bought more refills for it, so I’m prepared for the next box. Does this mean I’m a total convert to it? No, I don’t think so – I find tacking hexagons (and other shapes) quite relaxing, if I don’t have a time frame for the completion of a project.

P.S. After buying more refills I discovered that I already had some – they had been hiding from me! I have no idea how I didn’t spot them earlier, as they were very close to where I was doing the glue basting…this seems to be happening more and more often these days. I did also buy a second pen to keep close to hand when joining the pieces together.

Have you used the fabric glue pens? What was your experience of them?