Written by: Hannah Kimmel
A few years ago, I picked up a swaddling blanket at a yard sale. It was that soft squishy material that’s so popular for baby blankets these days.
Many people are familiar with the popular brand Aden + Anais that sells cotton muslin swaddling blankets in adorable prints.
Even though I purchased the swaddling blanket for my newborn, my older daughter claimed it as her own. She’s loved it ever since.
My daughter is now turning five, and she’s requested a larger blanket because she’s beginning to outgrow the baby one. (She sleeps with it every night).
I thought it would be quick and easy to find replacement fabric to make her a new blanket.
This wasn’t exactly the case.
My first obstacle was not knowing what the fabric was! I remembered seeing the word “muslin,” but I didn’t really know what that was. I didn’t have trouble finding muslin fabric at the local store, but it really wasn’t what I was looking for.
Then I discovered that I had been searching for double gauze fabric.
This journey has led me to want to learn as much as I can about this fabric. I also wanted to share my knowledge with you all, because this fabric is really fun and versatile.
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What IS Double Gauze Fabric?
Sometimes people refer to gauze fabric as “muslin,” but this particular fabric is distinct because it’s two-ply instead of one.
Another important distinction is that not all muslin is made the same. Or, I should say, it depends on what part of the world you’re from.
If you’re looking for the light airy material that you see in baby blankets, you can’t simply walk into the fabric store in the United States and pick out any bolt of muslin. Instead, you’ll end up with a courser fabric material often used to make practice pieces for clothing.
In other parts of the world, muslin refers to the United States’ version of double gauze. Even more confusing, the United States’ version of muslin is referred to as calico in other locations!
This certainly makes it a bit more difficult to find what you’re looking for. But, if you’re a DIYer in the United States and you want to find the Aden + Anais material, you’re probably looking for double gauze fabric.
Other names for double gauze fabric (simplified):
How to Care for Double Gauze Fabric
Double gauze fabric is such a soft and lovely fabric that only grows softer over time. To learn how to care for this fabric, check out these tips:
To Wash or Not to Wash?
One question that many people have is whether you should pre-wash double gauze fabric before you begin sewing. In general, you should wash most fabrics before you sew. This ensures that the fabric won’t shrink after washing potentially distorting your finished product. If you’re planning on using your fabric to make clothing, it’s very important to wash and dry your double gauze fabric first. Double gauze shrinks a LOT so your clothing would be unwearable if you didn’t wash it first.
However, if you’re planning on using it for quilting, and you’re less concerned about it shrinking, you may want to wait until after you’ve finished it to wash.
It’ll be easier to work with if it is not washed because the material becomes a lot more “crinkled” after it is washed.
Note: This will only work if you’re using double gauze for both the front and back of the quilt. If you’re backing it with a different type of material, you’ll need to wash and dry the double gauze fabric before you quilt.
The Proper Way to Wash and Dry Double Gauze Fabric
It’s always a good idea to check the manufacturer’s care suggestions for fabric. If no information is available, double gauze fabric can usually be washed in cold water followed by a tumble dry on low.
After your fabric has gone through the dryer, lay it flat for ten to fifteen minutes. This can help it stay smoother and will require less pressing when you’re ready to sew.
Keep in mind that the more you wash and use double gauze fabric, the softer it will get! This makes it a really great choice for baby items, but it can be used for a lot of other things as well.
How to Sew with Double Gauze Fabric
Now for the fun part — time to start making something!
Pressing the Fabric
When using your iron, put it on the cotton setting. You can use a lot of steam to help iron out the fabric because it works really well on double gauze.
Another thing you can do to smooth out this fabric is to use spray starch. Suzy from Suzy Quilts suggests, “Before you even cut your double gauze, get out the spray starch…Double gauze cuts best when it’s slightly stiff and wrinkle-free, so feel free to press it…(take care NOT to move your iron forcefully in circles. This stuff stretches and warps. Press means press, people.)”
Cutting the Fabric
While you might expect double gauze fabric to slide around a lot while cutting, it actually does a fairly good job staying in place. Using a sharp rotary cutter can help you get nice even lines.
Because of the nature of the double gauze, it may give you a clear idea of where to cut. When the two layers are weaved together, it may create a natural straight line in the fabric that you can use as a guide for cutting.
Pinning the Fabric
This is especially important when working with multiple layers of fabric, or when trying to sew double gauze to a different kind of fabric.
Machine Sewing with Double Gauze Fabric
Sewing with double gauze is fairly easy, but there are a few things to keep in mind:
You should use a longer than normal stitch when working with this fabric.
If possible, try to avoid ripping stitches. Double gauze’s light open fabric will tear easily if you’re not careful.
If you’re sewing gauze to a different type of fabric, you may want to consider using a walking foot on your sewing machine as opposed to a standard foot.
A cotton or polyester 50wt thread will work well with double gauze, and 70/10 or a 90/11 needle will compliment your thread and fabric. Make sure to use a new needle because double gauze fabric is somewhat easy to snag and this will be better avoided with a new sharp needle.
Because the seams on your double gauze fabric might unravel, it’s often recommended to use flat fell seams or french seams. If you have a serger, it’s also a really good choice for double gauze fabric.
What Can You Do With Double Gauze Fabric?
You may be saying, “Hannah, that fabric looks so pretty and sounds so great, but what should I do with it?”
Ever since discovering this fabric, I too have been wondering the same thing. I want to use it for everything!
Here are some projects that I found on the internet to get you started on your journey to using double gauze fabric.
Make a Baby Quilt Melanie Ham Style
I purchased double gauze fabric to make my daughter a blanket, and I absolutely adored Melanie Ham’s YouTube Tutorial.
I liked that she showed how to make them two separate ways, and I was so intrigued by the running stitch that I decided to try it out myself.
While I had never done a running stitch before, I really loved the way that it looked in her example. I think it will give the blanket a nice handmade look, and keep the blanket from shifting when washed.
You can also make a double gauze scarf as they did at Riley Blake Designs:
Another idea is an embrace swaddle like the one from Fat Quarter Shop:
Other ideas are:
There are loads of other tutorials on the internet. Once you’ve played with other people’s ideas, you could even start creating your own ideas.
Where to Buy Double Gauze Fabric
If you’re like me, you may not have a local shop full of double gauze fabric to choose from.
If that’s the case, here are a few places to find this fabric.
Fabric.com is the place where I got my fabric. In fact, as of right now, it’s still available. I was really pleased with the quality and softness of this fabric. I would buy from them again.
There are definitely some cute options on Etsy. I haven’t personally purchased from Etsy, but if you have or find a favorite shop, please let me know!
Fabricworm has some truly unique and adorable patterns available in double gauze fabric.
There are even a few choices for double gauze fabric on Amazon.
The Last Word on Double Gauze Fabric
If you’ve long been wondering what that magical fabric is in your baby’s swaddling blanket, or if you have double gauze fabric sitting in a bin somewhere at home, I hope this blog post has inspired you to create something.
If you do end up creating something with double gauze fabric, send us an email, or drop us a message on Instagram or Facebook. We’d love to hear from you.