My last few posts have all mentioned my newfound love for English Paper Piecing. EPP is a fun way to use up oddly shaped fabric scraps while taking a break from sitting at my sewing machine. The downside is that it's so time-consuming! I'm a naturally impatient person, and I will look for any shortcuts I can find. I know some people enjoy the slow, steady pace of EPP, but the "meditative" appeal is totally lost on me.
When I learned about glue basting in lieu of thread basting my EPP pieces, I jumped on the bandwagon without a thought. Thread basting just takes too long for my goldfish brain.
The tutorial I read (linked above) uses a Sewline fabric glue pen, but I also saw posts advocating the classic Elmer's disappearing purple washable school glue sticks. Over the years, I've bought pricey specialized craft tools and materials as well as their cheaper alternatives. Sometimes the cheap products work just as good (like my Niagara starch spray vs the more expensive Best Press), but sometimes you get what you pay for (like my recent switch from Coats & Clark thread to Aurifil). I figured this would be the perfect opportunity to do a glue stick showdown!
|The Fons & Porter Glue Pen|
Although most posts I saw used the Sewline glue pen, I purchased the virtually identical Fons & Porter glue pen for $1 less (and free Prime shipping) on Amazon. I'm 90% certain this is a case of a single manufacturer supplying both brands. The pen structure looks the same with the exception of the color and branding of the pen shaft. According to this post, the F&P glue pen refills even fit the Sewline pen. The F&P pen cost me $7 with one glue cartridge. Refills are sold as a 2 pack for about $5. I picked up a 3 pack of the Elmer's sticks for $2 at my local grocery store. They're generally priced at $1 per stick or less.
Right of the bat, you'll notice that the F&P pen has a smaller diameter than the Elmer's stick. This allowed for neater glue application when basting down my side seams. With the Elmer's stick you have a few options: 1) Over-apply the glue which can get a little messy. 2) Use the edge of your stick, which will destroy the clean flat glue stick surface. 3) Apply the glue with half the stick on the paper and half on the fabric seam allowance which effectively "doubles up" your glue when you fold the seam over. On the flipside, I like the fatness of the stick to initially to adhere the paper piece to the back of my fabric. TL;DR: Elmer's fat purple face makes it a bit trickier to apply glue neatly. If I had to pick a pen based on neatness of application, I would go for the F&P, but only by a hair.
|The F&P pen has a narrower tip|
The three Elmer's sticks I purchased for $2 lasted me the rest of the diamond jewel star, my Honeycomb mini and about 4 cogs of my current project, the Passacaglia quilt before I had to buy more glue sticks. Buying 3 more Elmer's sticks would be cheaper (and last longer) than buying the F&P pen refills. Additionally, I would have to make a special trip to Jo-Ann's or order the refills online. When I ran out of my Elmer's sticks, I just picked more up at the grocery store. Convenient!
The Verdict: The cheap Elmer's stick wins my seal of approval!