Sewing with Double Gauze

Until I sewed with double gauze, it was a fabric I would have associated predominantly with babies; it’s interchangeably referred to as muslin, swaddling and even ‘baby cloth’. It’s easy to understand why; two of its main characteristics are that it is soft and squishy making it perfect for little people.

What is Double Gauze?

Double gauze is a beautiful lightweight pure cotton:  it is, essentially, two plies of thin woven material that have been basted together, resulting in an incredibly lightweight fabric with tiny air pockets throughout it, making it very breathable and perfect for those warmer months.

How to Care for Double Gauze Fabric

Double gauze is a fabric that grows softer over time; like every fabric, there are certain things we can do to care for it:

Pre-washing:

In general, I recommend washing most fabrics before sewing them. I definitely recommend pre-washing double gauze as it shrinks a lot so your clothing would be potentially unwearable if you didn’t wash it before using it.

Saying that, if you are using it for a quilting project (for example, to make a baby blanket) you may be less concerned about shrinking so you may prefer to wait to wash it. Double gauze does become more ‘crinkled’ after it has been washed so you may find it easier to work with before washing. Do bear in mind, however, that this is only the case if you are using double gauze for both the front and back of the quilt. If you plan to back the quilt with a different type of material, do wash and dry the double gauze fabric before you start your project to avoid distortion.

Drying:

It is best to dry your double gauze flat so that you avoid extra ‘crinkles’.

Ironing:

I personally like the crinkled charm of double gauze but if you prefer a less crinkled look, double gauze responds really well to steam.

Bear in mind, however, that whatever you decide to do before cutting will affect the shape and size of the pieces. You need to decide what look you’re going for before you decide whether or not to iron the fabric. If you decide not to iron before cutting and sewing but change your mind on second wear of the garment, your garment will be larger. Similarly, if you iron before making the project and then decide to wear it un-ironed, it’ll be smaller than before. You need to commit before you decide whether or not to press. 

How to Cut Double Gauze Fabric

While it is light, double gauze does not move around a lot while cutting. Personally, I use pins and scissors to cut all my fabrics (but I do keep the pins sharp and within the seam allowances so that I don’t snag the fabric – this is important to remember with double gauze) but pattern weights and a rotary will work perfectly for cutting double gauze and help you achieve a good straight edge.

Tips for Sewing with Double Gauze

  1. Always sew with a new, sharp needle – 70/10 0r 80/12 are best. Double gauze comes with the risk of snagging so a sharp needle will avoid this.
  • Staystitch any seams that are curved or cut on the bias.
  • If your pattern calls for interfacing, use a lightweight variation.
  • You may want to consider using a walking foot (personally I didn’t find this essential) because double gauze can sometimes be accused of ‘fabric creep’; that is, one layer of fabric can go through the machine at a different speed to the other when sewing two pieces together.
  • Try a slightly longer stitch when sewing double gauze – I recommend approx. 2.7 – 3mm
  • Finish your seams – double gauze fabric is prone to unravel so use your overlocker if you have one; French seams are a good alternative if you don’t.

Pattern Inspiration

The first thing I used double gauze for was the Chalk and Notch Fringe dress. Most of the garments I make are quite structured and fitted and I tend to work mostly with tightly woven fabrics. To work with double gauze was more than just a new fabric choice; it was also opening my style options to more loosely fitted, flowing garments. For someone who orients towards the modern vintage styles, this was quite a jump.

The Fringe dress has a lot of lovely features; I love the neckline, the cuffed dolman sleeves, the sleeve tabs and the curved hem. It is unlike anything currently in my wardrobe – it may well be one of the most casual garments I have. I think the sparkle in the gauze really lifts the dress from looking too casual and I should add that this sparkle is even more vivid in real life than what you see in the pictures.

I thoroughly enjoyed the process of sewing with double gauze; so much so that I decided to buy some in a black sparkle colour way as well. I decided to make a Sew Over It Marguerite; there’s something quintessentially summer about the style and double gauze is a perfect summer fabric. As it is a pattern more reminiscent of vintage style, I opted to press my double gauze this time, in contrast to the more casual Fringe dress.

Just a note, if you’re working with the sparkle double gauze, please remember to iron on the reverse so you don’t lose any of the metallic spots (you’ll probably notice when pressing inside seams that the gold will come away when pressed).

Where I once associated this type of fabric with baby accessories, I’ve learned that double gauze is a really versatile and stylish fabric that deserves a place in all of our summer wardrobes. I think patterns such as the Sew Liberated Hinterland and the Tilly and the Buttons Bettine dresses would be beautiful in double gauze.

My next make will probably be the Hazel dress which owes itself really well to colour blocking.

If separates are your thing, double gauze would make beautiful floaty blouses for warmer weather, too. I’d even be tempted to make some pyjamas from double gauze. There are so many options.

Have you used double gauze before? Are there any patterns you would recommend? I’d love to see your suggestions and makes.

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