Tips for sewing with double gauze
Double gauze used to be a little bit exotic and hard to get your hands on, but these days this gorgeous substrate is everywhere we look! Most of our favourite companies and designers are working with double gauze. If you’ve never worn double gauze you are seriously missing out – it’s like secret pyjamas. So soft! A lot of you still have questions about how to work with this fabric, so we’re turning the blog over to Jenni Smith for some tips on how to sew your next garment out of double gauze!
Hello. I am Jenni Smith a sewing teacher from Yorkshire who loves dressmaking, quilting and textile art. I usually blog over at www.jenni-smith.co.uk but I was very happy when Annie offered me the chance to share my latest double gauze dressmaking project and answer some frequently asked questions about sewing with double gauze over here on The Daily Stitch!
I fell for double gauze fabric when I saw the beautiful designs by Naomi Ito for Japanese label Nani Iro a couple of years ago. I pinned them on my Pinterest board and admired them from afar. Then I felt the cloth on the bolt on a trip to The Village Haberdashery I knew it was going to feature often in my handmade wardrobe (it is amazingly soft).
So far I have made two Merchant and Mills Camber Set tops and two dresses – the By Hand Flora and Tilly and the Buttons Bettine.
The Bettine Dress
I knew this pattern would work well because it is loose fitting and doesn’t need to be handled too much when making (the sleeves are part of the bodice and don’t need to be set in, and there are no zip fastenings).
I interfaced the necklines of the garment rather than the facings to keep the structure a bit more stable and I also interfaced the pocket bags.
I didn’t top stitch around the neckline as instructed because I wanted to keep a very simplistic look. Instead I stitched down the facings at the shoulder seams inside and pressed it in place.
So overall I love double gauze and I am happy to see it appearing in many new designer collections each season. I have a few lengths waiting in my online baskets and think that I will try some children’s clothes next as I know my daughter will love the comfort factor.
More and more fabric companies, from Cotton + Steel to Cloud9, are releasing collections so it is easier to find than ever. I hope this guide will help those of you considering making with double gauze, and that you can learn from a few of the mistakes I have made!
What exactly is double gauze?
Double gauze is a fabric produced in Japan that consists of two layers of fine open woven cotton. They are attached together with tiny stab stitches at regular intervals, usually every centimetre, in a grid pattern, though this is barely visible. It is incredibly soft to touch and can be a tiny bit transparent. It is also breathable, so perfect for summer clothes.
Do I need to pre-wash it?
I don’t think it would be the end of the world if you didn’t prewash, but if you like to then go for cool water and dry naturally. I pre-washed all of my fabrics and they didn’t unravel much at all in the process. I then ironed them on a cool setting.
Is it tricky to cut out?
Double gauze is a little slippy, though less so than linen. My main tip here is to make sure you are using fabric weights or sharp, fine pins as the cotton fibres are delicate and can snag (see next tip).
What size needle should I use?
I find that a fine sewing needle works best in the machine. I use size 80. Make sure that it is super sharp. My machine made a mildly unhappy sound as I was sewing the bodice to the skirt on my Flora dress and on close inspection I caught a thread which then caused a run down the front of the skirt – like a tiny ladder in a pair of stockings. The annoying thing is that something like that cannot be undone so preventing it with the right needle will save tears.
What kind of thread should I use?
What stitch length works best?
I use a 3.5 stitch length. This is my standard when dressmaking and I definitely wouldn’t go any smaller in case you need to unpick the delicate weave.
How should I finish my seams?
I overlocked seams using my friend’s overlocker on the Camber top and the overlocking stitch on my Janome machine for my Bettine dress. Both worked fine. Double gauze does fray so I would recommend overlocking where you can, or using some nice French seams when appropriate.
Any tips for construction?
As I have said the loosely woven nature of double gauze means that it can snag so always take care with pins and needles going into it – even pull out your basting threads gently to avoid damage. Also avoid handling it too much when making your garment as it’s soft edges and open weave mean that it can stretch out of shape a little, especially if cut on the bias. Keep your garment flat when making it rather than hanging it up between sewing sessions.
Should I use interfacing with double gauze?
I made this By Hand Flora dress in Summer 2014. The bodice is very fitted and the skirt is full and heavy. I added some interfacing, as I would always regardless of pattern instructions, along the bodice front and back neckline round to the underarm. However, when I came to wear it the last time the lower part of the bodice has started to lose its shape and sag a little. Next time I plan to interface the entire bodice. I would use an iron-on lightweight interfacing that feels similar to the weight of the double gauze and matches the dominant colour, for example Vilene H180.
A looser fitting garment like the Merchant and Mills Camber set works fine without interfacing. The tops I have made have a lovely drape and are super comfy to wear. They wrinkle slightly as the day goes on, but not to the same extent as linen, and they wash well and can be ironed to bring them back into shape for the next time.
I have worn these tops a good 20 times and they have not bobbled either so I am very happy.
Can I line double gauze?
I’ve also made this tiny little mini quilt top with double gauze and I dream of sewing a full size quilt top one day and hand stitching some details into the cloth. But we’ll save tips for quilting with double gauze for another post!
Thank you, Jenni!