Thursday, September 24, 2015

Fabric Friday: Double Gauze - what the heck is it, and what do I do with it?

Whilst the merits of double gauze are well known to many of you, we still find ourselves introducing this wonderstuff to many customers in the shop. So we thought it worth a blog post to help demystify it some more.
 Double gauze is a double-layered cotton fabric, predominantly made in Japan. It's very, very soft.
 The two fine gauzy layers are woven together in a grid of spots about 1cm apart, which can be seen in some prints more easily from the back, like this one below. This stops the layers pulling apart as you're sewing, or wearing the fabric. You can cut and sew this just as you would a single-layer fabric.
 Generally the top layer of fabric is printed, but some are yarn-dyed.
 One of the largest manufacturers of double gauze is Japanese mill Kokka, which produces many prints including the very beautiful and popular 'Nani Iro' line by designer Naomi Ito. (Some of our current range pictured below.)
 There are also many prints that are ideal for babies and children.
 So what can you do with double gauze?

Most shop-bought baby wraps are woefully small and babies wriggle out of them in no time. Most parents of new babies would be very grateful for a large baby wrap made from ultra-soft, breathable double gauze. At 110cm wide, a 1 metre or 1.1m cut can simply be hemmed to make a very simple, very useful baby gift.

Double gauze is a delight to wear and more robust than you may expect. The double layer makes the fabric quite opaque, although dresses in very pale colours may need some lining. It makes beautiful shirts and dresses for adults and children. It's also gorgeous for sleepwear. As an example of the fabric's durability, a pair of summer pyjama shorts made for my 7y.o. son two years ago are still going strong after countless washes and wears. 
Below is a top made from a previous season's Nani Iro double gauze (sold out), using the Colette Laurel pattern.

The softness of double gauze, and the stunning prints available, make it perfect for 'whole cloth' quilting. That is, using the one fabric as the quilt top with no piecing. Quilting can be simple lines or grids, or follow the designs as shown below. It can be quilted by machine, but the softness of the fabric combined with wool batting and another soft backing fabric make hand-quilting a very pleasant process.
 We have a tutorial on our blog for the whole cloth quilt shown below. Although this fabric is sold out, the same technique will work beautifully with any print you choose.
A similar effect to our linen circle scarf can be achieved with a 75cm cut of double gauze. Cut down the middle lengthways so you have two pieces 75 x 55cm, and join short ends together for a strip approximately 150 x 55cm. Hem the long edges then join the remaining two short ends together. Voila - double gauze circle scarf!

Double gauze has a bit of a reputation for fraying, which we believe is largely undeserved. Sure, it's probably not the most reliable thing to create something fiddly like bias tape out of (although that's not impossible). The soft fibres can sometimes become caught in a cutting mat so scissors may be a better cutting solution than a rotary cutter. On the whole however we find double gauze to be a pleasure to work with. Use a fairly small stitch length and ensure your seam allowances are large enough to allow a good sturdy finish like French seaming or a fairly tight zigzag, and you should find double gauze garments last well through plenty of wash and wear.

Many of our current Nani Iro double gauzes have already sold out so if you have your eye on any remaining, get in quick! But don't despair if you miss out, we have re-ordered a number which will probably arrive in about a month.

- Jane & Fiona xx

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