Introduction: Fabric Glue

Fabric Adhesive is a wonderful alternative to sewing. Not to discount sewing, but fusing fabric with glue can be a great, and sometimes necessary, alternative for mending clothes without a needle and thread, or permanently laminating fabric together. Some fabric glues are designed to form temporary bonds, which is great for piecing quilts and appliques, or even temporarily converting clothes into Halloween costumes. Other fabric adhesives can form very permanent bonds to materials like wood and plastics. This lesson will guide you through the world of options you have when it comes to textile bonding and some techniques in application.


Tips and Facts

Fabric glues are primarily used to bond fabric to fabric, but that doesn't limit the surfaces they are able to adhere to. Many fabric adhesives can bond to wood, leather, plastic, some even to metal or glass. Most fabric glues are material agnostic, but some are designed to work with just synthetic fibers or natural fibers, so be sure to read the materials each glue is suited to work with.

When working with synthetic fibers, I like to use glues that are designed to be flexible and stretchable - they are often thinner and don't soak through the thin synthetic fibers with a globular mess that can bunch.

Those thicker fabric adhesives are PERFECT for bonding natural fibers. Natural fibers are more resistant to bunching from high-viscosity fabric glue.

Fabric glues can be resistant to flowing across surfaces but if you need to work with a thinner glue, for a finer fabric, or a small repair, you can thin the glue with acetone. If you are going to use any solvent to thin glue, use a mixing cup and add solvent gradually until you have the desired viscosity.

Like any other glue we talk about in this class, fabric adhesives bond best to clean surfaces. Be sure to clean your garments, tents, tarps, etc. before you start to use adhesive. Dirt in your bonds can weaken the strength of the patch or repair over time.

The best bonds are formed when the pieces are mated without stretching or folding the material. All kinds of materials are susceptible to some kind of stretch or flex, so make sure there is no strain on your pieces. Gluing stretched fabric can cause stippling or ripples in your material once the adhesive has cured.

Washing and drying fabric glue varies depending on the kind you are using. Make sure that if you need to machine wash the garment you are applying adhesive to, you are using an adhesive that is machine washable/dryable. If your glue isn't able to make the journey through the wash, you could end up with glued pieces falling off, or potentially exacerbated rips and tears.

There are some fabric adhesives designed to prevent fraying, and lock loose threads into place. Other textile glues dry flexible and stretchable. It is important for the drying properties of your adhesive to match the properties of the textiles you are bonding. We want good bonds that will last!

Nonpermanent fabric bonds are great for large pieces that are hard to pin, but will eventually get sewn into place. If you have to sew together slippery pieces of fabric, you can use a temporary adhesive to lock-down seem placement before machine stitching. This ensures that the materials won't be sliding on top of one another when you are trying to stitch the seams of your project.

Some fabric adhesives are a heat activated fusible webbing. It comes in strips, rolls, and sheets. This type of adhesive is great for appliques and patching but isn't really designed to go through the wash multiple times. Most often this kind of material is used for applique and decorative patch placement.


Removal

The fastest way to remove fabric glue from fabric is to dissolve it with nail polish remover or any acetone-based solvent. Simply pour some on a towel and gently blot it off. Remember to always BLOT at the stain, avoid rubbing or you risk getting the stain even more stuck in your textile. When using solvents like acetone, you could potentially melt or discolor the fabric, depending on the type, so it's important to do a small patch test first.

A better approach is to use an iron and a clean (sacrificial) washcloth, much like we did for Hot Glue.

Place the glue spot face down atop your cloth, and iron it until the spot melts and partially transfers to the towel. Wait for it to cool, then move the glue stain to another clean portion of the towel and do it again. Repeat this process until the glue is gone from the fabric.

The best way to get fabric adhesive residue off your skin is with an oil based solvent, like Goo Gone - but I keep Coconut Oil in my shop, and find that it works just as well (and smells less strong).

Getting fabric glue off of your hands or skin can take a minute, and clean-up would pull you away from completing your glue-up. Wearing gloves is the best way to avoid this.

It would be a shame to begin a lamination, get glue on your hands, affecting the ability to properly handle materials, and then have to walk away to go clean up. Being pulled away from a project mid-glue,losing your working time of the adhesive, up threatens our ability to make lasting bonds.

Like any glue repair or project, planning an order of operations before beginning is very important.


Example Repair

The most common use for fabric glue is patching holes and rips in textiles. It saturates between the fibers and leaves behind a tacky film without soaking all the way through. Like rubber cement, you want to coat both bonding surfaces with adhesive before they are mated.

To demonstrate this principle, I am fixing my bud's pants that had an unfortunate tear in the rear after getting snagged on something. He tried to fix it once with stitches, but because denim frays so easily, the stitches tore out. Perfect reason to glue in a patch!

Follow along with the Instructable here!


Creative Project

Ready to try your hand at a beginners fabric glue project? Give your shoes a makeover by following along with flexible fabric glue Instructable.


Quiz

{
    "id": "quiz-1",
    "question": "How can you thin most fabric glues?", 
    "answers":[
        {
            "title": "With Citrus Solvent",
            "correct": false
        },
        {
            "title": "With Mineral Spirits",
            "correct": false
        },
       {
            "title": "With Acetone",
            "correct": true
        }

    ],
    "correctNotice": "That's correct",
    "incorrectNotice": "That's incorrect"
}
{
    "id": "quiz-2",
    "question": "How can you remove fabric adhesive from skin?",
    "answers":[
        {
            "title": "With oil solvents, like Goo Gone.",
            "correct": true
        },
        {
            "title": "With Acetone",
            "correct": false
        },
       {
            "title": "With Mineral Spirits",
            "correct": false
        }

    ],
    "correctNotice": "That's correct",
    "incorrectNotice": "That's incorrect"
}
{
    "id": "quiz-3",
    "question": "What assures an ideal fabric glue bond?",
    "answers":[
        {
            "title": "Stretching and flexing during curing",
            "correct": false
        },
        {
            "title": "Complete stillness during curing",
            "correct": true
        },
       {
            "title": "Making sure there is air pockets between mated surfaces",
            "correct": false
        }

    ],
    "correctNotice": "That's correct",
    "incorrectNotice": "That's incorrect"
}

Next up we'll learn about wood glues! Wood glue is a lot like white glue with some distinct differences. Gluing organic material like wood requires some extra consideration, the next lesson will guide you through the best practices for applying wood PVAs, and I'll use wood veneers in a fun illuminating project.


CLASS PROJECT

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