WORKING WITH DOUBLE FABRICS
2019 was a year of big double cloth fabric projects, while 2020 was about refining these techniques, finishing up projects I started, and creating new styles. This post is my attempt to compile the techniques I’ve used already, and have a space for any add ons in a future.
Most patterns can be turned into patterns for double cloth fabrics, which are also called double faced fabrics by most ready-to-wear brands. Take into account couple things before starting these projects: more style lines and details will amount for much longer execution time; some of these fabrics might have a nap/brushed surfaces, so you’ll be cutting your pieces in one direction; it generally takes a lot less fabric as your seam allowances are small (mine are all 1/4″ from the seam line), and you eliminate the need for facings and hems. In order to respect the time you’ll invest into a project like this, ALWAYS make a muslin to check necessary changes or style adjustments.
I usually cut my pattern pieces in a single layer: it allows better precision, as these fabrics tend to be pretty thick, and it can give you a better yield as well. Next step is to make markings in contrast thread for face side of each piece, as well as my Center Front and any other important points of your garment. In case of this coat I just cut out, in addition to Center Front, I’m marking a roll line, front dart, and pocket placement.
It’s also time to decide which seams is set into which. A seam that will be “receiving” will need to be split, as well as all edges, and one side of a dart, if you have any.
DOUBLE CLOTH EDGES: Probably the second longest time you’ll spend on after peeling layers, is on edges of the project you’re working on, and this step usually comes right at the beginning. The steps are as follows:
Machine baste a guideline before you start peeling layers of your double cloth. This particular fabric doesn’t unravel much, so my seam allowances for this coat are 1/4″, and I’m using 1/2″ for this guideline. Adjust these numbers if your fabric ravels a lot. Use a contrast thread color for this guideline, it will be removed later.
Start peeling layers within your guideline frame by carefully snipping binding threads. Seam allowances will get distorted, so press to reshape before proceeding to the next step
Using matching thread, machine stitch a permanent stay stitching line on both sides of peeled layers. If you’re not using dense fabrics, it’s recommended to fuse one or both sides of peeled layers before stay stitching. As an alternative, you can also use organza strips.
Trim seam allowances to 3/16″ or 1/8″ depending on the density on the fabric you’re working with.
Working small sections at a time, fold in both sides and hand stitch it together. The stay stitching lines will insure your edges come out as intended.
Moving along to SEAM CONSTRUCTION & INTERSECTIONS. When we construct hidden seams, the seam allowances are enclosed between fabric layers. Setting one pieces into another will require peeling seam allowances on one side only.
Next, machine stay stitch one one side of the peeled layer in a matching thread. I typically do these on the “wrong” side of the fabric.
Attach unseparated piece to the remaining single layer (the one that hasn’t need stay stitched by the machine). Trim all seam allowances to either 3/16″ or 1/8″ as we did constructing edges.
Now, it’s all hand sewing: use the single layer, that’s been machine stitched before, to enclose all layers into created hidden seam. I usually put the hand stitched side on the inside of a garment, as it’s less “perfect” than a machine stitched side, but, technically, it can be placed on the face side as well, as this technique is used for reversible pieces.
To finish these series of techniques, here’s a video of how to do darts in double cloth fabrics. If I haven’t covered something here, it’s because I haven’t made it yet, such as inner pocket set into side seam, or more tailored besom pockets. If or when it’s going to happen, it’s going to end up here.