When joining our Build a Wardrobe program, participants make design choices for each of the four garments they create. When planning a design for any garment, the first decision you make is whether the garment will be made with a single- or double-layer of our organic cotton jersey. Some embroidery or embellishment choices will make this decision for you; for instance, most all-over reverse appliqué designs require two layers of fabric, by definition. But, if you opt to make basic versions or lightly-embellished garments, you can create two garments from the same yardage that would be needed to make one double-layered garment. The single- or double-layer decision should be made before cutting your fabric, to allow for the most economical use of your yardage with the least waste.

Single-layer garments are lighter in weight, and we often make these for warmer seasons. Double-layer garments add warmth without adding bulk and offer more support, especially at the bust. Personal preference on fit will come into play when you make this decision; some prefer lighter or more flowing garments, while others like the feeling of being held closely by their clothes. (Some women use double-layer pieces as comfortable versions of body slimmers or shapers, and many of our tighter tops can be worn without the support of an undergarment.) Either way, the more you wear your garment, the more it will take on the shape of your body.


As we mentioned, some techniques lend themselves more to double layering, whereas others allow flexibility in design. For instance, appliqué and beading can be worked on either single- or double-layer garments. But if you choose to embellish your design with heavy beading, we recommend a double-layer garment to provide support. (A heavy beading technique would be more likely to put strain and pull down on a single layer of fabric, causing it to sag or lay improperly on your body.)

If you need inspiration or want to explore multiple design options, look back on some of our pieces from Swatch of the Month; we also demonstrate most of our techniques in Alabama Studio Sewing + Design. If you are looking for ways to potentially customize your Build a Wardrobe piece, refer to Alabama Studio Sewing Patterns for ideas and instructions.

Whether you are participating in Build a Wardrobe or forging you own way with your wardrobe, you can follow along on our Journal or on social media with the hashtags: #theschoolofmaking  #buildawardrobe2018


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Click to read 5 comments
  1. Linda Stutterheim

    Well, I have decided to use two layers for my Maggie dress with embellishing. I have noticed the garments feel so luxurious and adds more body to the garment when using a double layer. Ok, I have one word to describe this feeing, Heavenly!

  2. Chris

    Thank you so much for this. I am in the process of planning my Maggie dress, but could not decide to do a single or double layer. After reading this I think I am going to do a double layer. My other consideration is…. should I do a layer of lightweight jersey and a layer of medium weight or use two layers of medium weight? Not sure. I plan on doing allover appliqué and perhaps some beading. I have made a fitted top in double layer medium weight with reverse applique and absolutely love the feel and look of it. When an appliqué piece is done, is it usually double layer? I figured I would also need a lot more fabric since I will need fabric for the applique pieces as well.

    1. Alabama

      Hi Chris,

      We recommend always using the same fabric weights when creating a double layer. The weight of the fabrics causes them to stretch differently, and they have very different qualities. This will make your alignment and construction process much easier. Our appliquéd garments are a double base layer with single appliqué layer on top. We encourage you to use a double layer especially if you are considering adding beading. And yes, you are correct that you will need additional fabric if you decide to add appliqué to a double-layer garment. Let us know if you have any more questions. Happy Sewing!

  3. Chris

    Thank you so much for your very helpful response. I will definitely be making my dress in the double layer medium weight and will get the extra yardage for my appliqué. I am so excited to get started! Thank you for being such an inspiration!

  4. Hope Carr

    In May of 2015 I came to the weekend workshop with the intention of learning how to hand sew skirts and tops to replace shoddy mass produced clothes that still cost a fortune and labeled couture.
    I am well into my 9th skirt project and to the point that my daughters ask now how many is enough.
    The process of sewing by hand is liberating and so satisfying. As Natalie calls it, the process of slow making , seems to bring bring a life to the garment that it would otherwise not have. I only use double layers and even in the summer months I found them completely comfortable, though I have not made any long skirts, so I cannot comment on those. I cannot say enough good things about the materials that Alabama Chanin offer us. The quality is exceptional all the way down to the notions. This company has considered every single thing and so I trust them.
    I have compared their cloths to others that I have found online and even bought yardage, but the colors and the feel of the textile are so different in quality. Being an artist by trade, I am now developing my own stencil and design elements to incorporate into my clothes and having a blast in this new procedure.
    Trust the process and yourself to learn by doing and know that the AC team are helpful enthusiastic people. Plus the books have the best instructions ever, and more possibilities for projects than imaginable.