Fabric 101 - What is double gauze?

Certain customer questions come up again and again here at superbuzzy, and a popular one lately is "What is double gauze?". To answer this, it is first helpful to talk about gauze. Gauze exists for many different uses (think cheesecloth, bandages, and fine metal mesh), but here I'll focus on gauzes as used in sewing and crafting. Gauze is a lightweight, soft, and open weave fabric that is usually quite sheer. Because it allows air to pass through freely, gauze can be used in garment sewing for clothing worn in hot and humid climates. However, it can also be quite impractical because it is so sheer - slips, camisoles and other undergarments may undermine the properties of the gauze. Leave it to the Japanese and their clever industriousness to perfect double gauze fabrics! Double gauze is literally two layers of gauze that are woven simultaneously. At regular intervals (often about every 1 or 2 cm), a yarn from the top layer exchanges places with a yarn on the bottom layer, effectively "basting" the 2 layers together during the weaving process. These "basting" yarns are virtually impossible to detect from the "right" side of the fabric, but the "wrong" side of this Nani Iro black double gauze makes them relatively easy to see:

In this picture, you can see the grid created when those yarns exchange position (from top layer to bottom layer), and this attaches the two layers of gauze, spaced a bit more than ½" apart. The genius behind double gauze is that it retains it's light and cool properties, but is no longer sheer because of the double layer of fabric. The backing layer of double gauze is generally not printed or dyed, but the occasional reversible double gauze is even more spectacular! As summers in Japan can be quite hot and humid, double gauze has been embraced as an ideal summer-weight fabric. (The fabric is also praised because it absorbs perspiration without showing an unsightly mark!) But, to limit double gauze to garment sewing would be a big mistake. The fabric is so soft and cozy - I have found it to be the perfect fabric for quilts! One of my projects last year was a double gauze quilt for my baby nephew:

I pieced the top using only Japanese double gauze fabrics, and this quilt is the softest I have felt yet! It also has a certain "plush-ness" due to the additional layer of fabric in the double gauze. I won't lie: double gauze does tend to be a bit pricey, but that is because you are getting twice the fabric (think: 2 layers!), and there are also additional manufacturing processes required to stitch the layers together that add to production costs. We have a fantastic selection of double gauze fabrics , from the incredible Nani Iro designs , to organics , to  novelty  and children's prints .

Have you made something with double gauze? I'd love to hear about (and see!) it!

Categories: superbuzzy bits, Fabric 101

Comments

  • Kelly Says:

    May 2nd, 2013 at 5:04 p.m.

    Hi Krista! So glad to hear you are happy with the hand of your double gauze! The quilt pictured in the post above is one I made using only double gauze fabrics - top and back. You can certainly pre-wash double gauze; if you're concerned about fraying, a quick serge or zig-zag stitch along the raw edges will minimize fraying during laundering. Because the weave is more open, you will get a bit more movement across the fabric, and along the bias you will see some stretch. Hope this helps!
  • Krista Says:

    May 2nd, 2013 at 4:52 p.m.

    I have just used double gauze from your site as the backing of a baby blanket. I did not prewash and even during the quilting process this is the softest quilt I have ever made. I did not do dense quilting because I wanted to maximize the softness. The fabric is a bit stretchy though. Has anyone tried quilting with DG on the front and back? I'm not sure how that would work. Can you prewash it? It looks like it would fray so I didn't take a chance.
  • Kelly Says:

    April 8th, 2013 at 10:35 a.m.

    Double gauze fabrics are perfectly suited to swaddling blankets, and are used for these, as well as for baby garments and quilts, in Japan. Happy stitching!
  • Kim Says:

    April 7th, 2013 at 8:53 p.m.

    I had the same question as Leslie. Are these fabrics good fro making baby swaddle blankets? I have made them from the crinkle or stretch muslin gauze, but they are a bit rough. I want to know if this fabric is still thin and breathable and if it will crinkle or waffle a bit after being washed (is it similar to the fabric the aden + anais swaddle blankets are made from? I am looking for something like that.
  • Leslie Says:

    January 14th, 2013 at 10:13 a.m.

    I am curious if if would be good for simple swaddling blankets? I am having my baby in the summer and flannel tends to be warm, but I don't want something that is scratchy (as gauze can be) either.