Different projects call for different fabrics, and different fabrics call for different techniques. Double gauze is no exception. It has something of a reputation for being tricky to work with, and many sewists avoid it altogether, but they don't know what they're missing! Double gauze is perfect for summery casual clothing and accessories, and once you're used to its unique structure, you'll be sewing like a pro in no time.
What is Double Gauze?
Double gauze is a two-layer fabric made from loosely woven, semi-sheer layers of cotton that are stitched together in a regular grid. From the right side, this structural stitching is all but invisible. As lightweight fabrics go, it's a little bit heavier, but still has the soft drape and hand of gauze without the transparency. Once tricky to find, double gauze is now widely available. You can find it in a range of weights and textures, from nearly sheer to almost resembling flannel, and in all kinds of beautiful prints and colors.
Pros and Cons of Working with Double Gauze
- Extra soft
- Lightweight and breathable
- Available in a wide range of prints and colors
- Prone to fraying
- Not good for highly structured projects
- Doesn't support heavy embellishments or fastenings
Techniques to Use with Double Gauze
Cutting: Because the layers of double gauze are stitched in a grid, you don't have to worry about them slipping while you're cutting them, as you would if you were cutting multiple layers of other lightweight fabrics. Do make sure you're using a new blade in your rotary cutter, and that your scissors are sharp, because the loose weave can snag on dull blades.
Marking and Pinning: Fine, glass-headed pins work best with double gauze, since they're sharp enough to avoid snagging the weave. For marking the reference points of your patterns, use chalk, vanishing pen, or tailor's tacks instead of clipping notches, since these can be easily lost in the loose weave or fraying along the edges.
Sewing Techniques: Because of the looseness of the weave in double gauze, you'll need to adapt your techniques slightly. Whenever possible, opt for French seams, which secure the raw edges of your seam allowances inside a second layer of stitching. You can learn how to do them with this tutorial. Another option, of course, is to use a serger to finish your edges before you begin sewing. Use a walking foot attachment on your sewing machine to make sure the top layer of gauze moves under your needle at the same rate as the lower layer. This helps avoid puckering.
If your pattern calls for curves, be sure to stay-stitch them as soon as you cut them. It's a step that's easy to skip, but because these curves can easily stretch or deform, stay-stitching can really improve the quality of your finished garment. Similarly, double gauze naturally has a relaxed look to it, so if you need additional crispness, use a lightweight interfacing to add an extra layer of structure. Either fusible or stitch-in interfacing will work well with double gauze, but whatever option you prefer, avoid using interfacing that's too stiff.
Double gauze does not support heavy embellishments like beading, studs, or heavy appliques, but it does work well with embroidery, smocking, and other fabric manipulation techniques. Also keep in mind that exposed zipper closures can pose a challenge in double gauze projects, since they typically call for heavy, decorative zippers. Instead, opt for patterns with hidden zippers, pullover designs or button or elastic closures since these can better tolerate the give of this particular fabric.
Double Gauze Projects
There are many projects that are well suited to the casual, comfortable look of double gauze. Check out these examples for inspiration!
Double Gauze Quilts
Like all lightweight cottons, double gauze is ideal for quilting. Because of the extra stitching, you don't have to worry about fraying or wear and tear, and you just can't beat the soft texture. Wash and dry your fabric before you start cutting (always good advice, but especially important when working with double gauze), and press well. A little spray starch won't go amiss as your start piecing your quilt either.
Comfy PJ Pants
Lightweight and breathable, double gauze makes great pajamas. These comfy pajama pants are quick and easy to make, and require only basic fitting skills since they use a straight-legged design and draw-string waist. A great first foray into the world of garment making! You can even whip up a couple pairs to give as gifts, either to adults, or for kids. Just make sure you keep at least one for yourself. You're going to want to live in these.
Vintage Style Sundress
When you're ready for something a little more advanced, this summer sundress sew-along from Kelly Hogaboom goes into great detail on everything from prepping your pattern to adding the finishing touches. The pattern she's working with is a great vintage-y style with a nearly tea-length pleated skirt, simple, slightly gathered sleeves and a wide, smooth neckline. Without extra embellishment, the soft texture of the double gauze really has a chance to shine, but it's also a dress that can hold up to a boldly patterned print, or a touch of simple embellishment, like embroidery.
Double Gauze Infinity Scarf
It absolutely doesn't get any easier than these chic and simple infinity scarves. Light enough to wear in warm weather, but cozy enough for brisk winter days, these scarves require only two lines of stitching and have no raw edges to worry about finishing. They're a great stash buster if you've got an extra length of double gauze that's not quite big enough for anything else, and a great use for that statement pattern that's too bold for a full garment.