Using fabric glue or sewing with needle and thread can help create unique clothing designs. Which one will work best for your project?
Creating your own unique clothing design is certainly quite an achievement for a lot of hobbyists and enthusiasts. Experienced crafters know there are different methods to achieve your desired result when it comes to adding to your fabrics.
You may use high-quality glues or you can stitch them using the traditional method (thread and needle).
On this page, we’re going to help you decide which method works best for your next DIY project.
Fabric Glue vs. Sewing
Stitching by hand is certainly reliable for a lot of small projects. But, a dedicated sewing machine is still the fastest way to attach fabric to a lot of your crafts. However, sometimes you don’t want stitches to show. For example, on curtain hems, and then gluing the fabric is definitely the way to go.
Using different materials on your fabrics also has an effect on the finished product. So, it’s better to test both methods on a scrap before choosing the best approach for your projects.
What are the differences between fabric glue and sewing?
Sewing is better for securing embroideries or embellishments on a piece of cloth.
Meanwhile, using fabric glue can help attach anything you want to your garment as fast as possible.
Therefore, durability is the primary difference between using fabric glue when compared to regular sewing.
This is because sewing provides you with a long-lasting product that will not deteriorate over time. Fabric glues, on the other hand, decay over time whether you like it or not. Adhesives such as glue will wash off, especially with considerably strong laundry powders.
As such, you should only use fabric glues on clothes that you don’t intend to wear as often.
When should I choose glue over sewing?
Fabric glue is best used on hems of leather, adding glitters, making accessories, and basically when you don’t know how to sew. Fabric glue works really well when it isn’t possible to sew an item. This is especially helpful for accessories like bags, shoes, and various pieces of jewelry.
Professional seamstresses and craftsmen also use fabric glue for thicker leather. Because sewing embellishments usually takes more much-needed time that could’ve been spent on other things.
If you’re working with hems of leather, or in the process of adding beads to plastic/glass, glitter or rhinestones to leather, metal, or plastic and other detailed projects, then using glue can be the best approach in these situations. In addition, for beginners or people who just don’t know how to sew, gluing is a good method to start with.
Lastly, if you’re on a deadline and time is of the essence, then it’s actually the perfect time to glue.
Can you sew and use fabric glue on your projects at the same time?
While we strongly recommend sewing whenever you’re attaching fabrics to a variety of accessories, glue will sometimes work just fine. One of the advantages of gluing instead of sewing is that it significantly decreases the time spent on attaching embellishment to your projects.
However, using either or both on a single project all comes down on a case-to-case basis.
For example, when sewing or gluing rhinestones, both works just fine. But, if you’re attaching expensive crystals to your projects, like on a bag, then it’s probably better to sew it up as it’s less risky. Fabric glue also has a chance of ruining your leather so you should research the quality of your fabric glue and stay away from cheap glues.
Other instances where you can either sew or use glue are embellishing your shoes and other leather products. Gluing attachments on your boots can be quick but sewing on leather can make your add-ons longer lasting.
If you’re adding leather to fabric meanwhile, gluing and sewing should be fine as long as you know what you are doing. As with the shoe example, if you’re going to use fabric glue to add leather to your dress, then your total time should be quick.
But if you want to ensure your embellishment is longer lasting, then you should sew your attachments instead.
How do you make projects with fabric glue last longer?
Once your projects are finished with the help of fabric glue, then the next step to finish your project is to let them cure properly. Curing your fabrics embellished with fabric glue is done by following the instructions for the glue you have used. Mainly, you have to determine the length of curing time. Curing time can also be affected by the fabric you are using.
Another consideration; cotton, denim, silk, and other kinds of fabric work best with latex glues. While polyester and nylon work well with regular fabric glues.
Applying thin coats sparingly on your fabric also provides your projects with breathing time. Applying too much on a single application can oversaturate the fabric. During the curing process, you can clamp or hold down the fabric using pins, or cloth pegs. Or you can even put something heavy on it so that the fabric won’t move around.
Another thing to remember is to avoid washing your fabric often. Wash your garment on a gentle cycle and use only cold water if washing cannot be avoided. Hot water can damage the glue.
Lastly, always ensure the fabric is free from any dirt and residue especially when you’re applying fabric glue. Any kind of debris or other sediments on the fabric can lower the effectiveness of your fabric glue. Even with sewing, always make sure your work area is clean and dry before applying anything to your DIY projects.
Properly applied fabric glue on your projects typically lasts around 4-8 washings before the glue adherence starts to fail.
How do you use bonding tape on fabrics?
If you don’t have time to sew, or you just don’t know how and there is no fabric glue in sight, you can use fusible bonding tape as an alternative to attaching fabrics together. It’s another simple way to adhere fabric together as all you have to do is melt the adhesive with a regular iron or mini-iron to create a permanent bond without requiring any drying time.
This method is perfect for fabric that can withstand high heat such as cotton, leather, and other types of materials. If you have a steam setting on your iron, then it can also assist in setting the bond quicker when using adhesive tape as an alternative.
Tapes are commonly used on hems instead of top-stitching as it reduces any visible thread that can otherwise ruin the design of your project.
Hot glue is also another option for decorative projects and other crafts like fabric woven wire baskets, burlap table runners, Christmas tree skirts, felt flowers, or other decorations. However, using a hot glue gun is not recommended for anything that needs to be washed such as clothing as the adhesion will definitely peel off when you wash it.
Should you sew or use fabric glue?
Sewing is highly recommended, especially when making all kinds of clothing. While gluing is a nice alternative, you’re going to end up with a better product if you took the sewing approach to make pieces of garments from scratch.
It’s the best way to ensure your projects are built to last because you don’t want your clothes suddenly falling off when the glue adherence begins to fail.
Using glue is also not always recommended on garments. Sooner or later, you will have to wash your clothes and dry them regularly as you wear them. While fabric glues are certainly washable, their adhesive is sometimes not suitable for holding your clothing together a long time.
Altering, reworking, or trimming embellishments to your garments also require sewing so they don’t fall off. To sum it all up, sewing is best when:
- Creating garments from scratch,
- Attaching two kinds of fabric,
- Adding embellishments to a fabric,
- Trimming fabric, and
- Doing alterations or reworking your garment that fabric glue couldn’t otherwise fix in itself.
If you’re repairing damaged clothing or other crafts and don’t have the skills to sew, gluing fabric is a timesaver. While not the perfect solution, it is ideal for applique, home décor fabrics, and a quick solution for minor adjustments.
Sewing, meanwhile, is a superior way to secure your embellishments on your clothing, DIY, and other crafts on a piece of fabric. For people with considerable skills when it comes to sewing, then your projects will definitely last for years or even decades!
Now that you know the comparison between using the two, we hope you’ll have a far more comfortable and hassle-free experience. The next time you need to decide between using fabric glue or sewing, you will be prepared!
Check out our other articles for more sewing resources!