Sunday, June 5, 2016

Quilt Your "To Do" List, Rediscover School Glue

There is so much that I should be doing, but instead, I am just having a ridiculous amount of fun cutting up old jeans to make "to do" lists. Here's a piece on a pants leg:
(Same piece, with added waistbands at top and bottom, to turn it into a pennant:)
The polka dot denim is from a jeans skirt.
The other shades came from family, thrift shop, or yard sale jeans - I buy the largest sizes I can find.

OK, it's true, my fibrous to-do lists don't include activities that are more than six letters and/or tedious, like: shop for groceries (18 letters) or clean the refrigerator (uncountable) or...what's that word...twerk...shirk...oh yeah! Work!

Here's another more succinct and heavily-illustrated priority list:
That's a coffee filter on top, FYI.
And here's my new BFF, who makes these creations easy:
The quilt world is having a love affair with white glue, especially (but not always) Elmer's washable white school glue. You can hardly turn around in quilty quarters of cyberspace without bumping into someone doing something mindblowing with simple, cheap glue. For example:
  • Several people demonstrate how to BASTE large quilts with a drizzle or a spray of school glue, sometimes watered.
  • Legendary quilter Sharon Schamber offers a three-part Youtube series on how to BIND quilts with Elmer's school glue, starting here. She also does a technique she invented called Paperless Paper Piecing with it. 
  • Sharon's daughter Cristy Fincher uses school glue for accurate piecing and appliqué, here.  She uses a fine point tip (more on this below).
  • What finally sent me over to the glue side: Reading my quilting hero Susan Carlson's courageous confession to the centrality of Aleene's tacky glue to her collage process, here
It's so easy to make your own priority list wallhanging with old jeans and glue. Feel free to borrow my list (send pictures).

The appliqué needs to be very flat. Gluing at the ironing board is a good idea, to flatten as you go, and the heat also dries the glue. Drip glue on the back outer edge of the appliqué, and use the tip to shmear it around. Aim to cover a more-or-less continuous line next to the outer edges, without any significant gaps.(The inner part of the appliqué does not need glue).

 If you're using thick denim, the not-so-tiny opening that comes with the orange nozzle on the school bottle is fine.
However, if you're using a thinner fabric than denim - like quilter's cotton -  I suggest buying  fine point tips. Sharon Schamber sells plastic nozzles that fit directly on glue bottles, here. (No affiliation).  I used  metal nozzles that I bought years ago, can't remember where - they don't fit on the Elmer's bottle, but they do fit onto the small empty bottles they came with. These are widely available on the web (for example, here at Dharma Trading, one of my favorite companies.)
The metal nozzle simply screws into position. You fill the bottle with the glue.
Stitching the appliqués down is optional. If you do this project with kids, you can use a permanent non-toxic glue - Aleene's tacky, for example - and you won't need to stitch them down at all. Of course, the piece is no longer washable.

If you use school glue, like I did, and you want it to last, then of course you should stitch everything down. (School glue is not very strong, especially on denim.)  I went for "invisible" monofilament thread, zig-zagging over every edge, with most of the stitch on the appliqué, zagging to just beyond the border.
Stitching inevitably causes some fraying - denim is a relatively loose weave - but it's much less fraying (I discovered through trial and error) than simply doing a straight stitch just inside each appliqué, or a multi-stitch zig-zag, both of which raise a ruckus on the raw edges.

Adding a batting and backing is optional. They're sturdy and hangable just as they are if you used a pants-denim background. Just for the fun of it, I did glue and then stitch grey felt to the back of each piece, to give it more weight and dimension. No batting whatsoever. It's a fast and fun project that can be done with children of all ages!

What would you glue onto your fantasy "to do" list?

(Brief commercial message: If you want coffee-related shapes suitable for tracing, consider my extremely cheap 'Quilts for Coffee Lovers' booklet on my pattern page. Along with these shapes,
...there's also a percolator.)


  1. Several years ago, Mary Lou Weedman was talking to my guild. She stopped by my house to drop some stuff off. On the back of my front door there was a list of what my older son needed to remember for school. She looked at it and said, "this would make a good quilt!" I think that is what you did. Of course, I never did make a quilt of it, but I still have it.

    1. What a great story, Marla, thanks for sharing it. Mary Lou's quilts have inspired me, though our styles are so different. She hasn't put out a book in a long time, has she?

  2. Sleep
    Rub dog's tummy
    How is that for a dream wishlist? Maybe I should add wine and chocolate in somewhere ...

    1. That list would make a great quilt! You could just add wine and chocolate stains, to convey the idea! Thanks for stopping by, GMG!

  3. Here's mine:

    Nap time


    1. Love it, Mari, thanks for the great idea! You could put a pillow on the quilt???!!!


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