We’ve all gotten excited about a new fabric to use for our bra-making, haven’t we? But what do you do when there is no power net in a colour to match your lovely find? Here are a number of alternatives to solve the challenge of using gorgeous fabrics with nothing to co-ordinate for the back band.
What direction are the DoGS on Power Net?
Most regular power nets have a honeycomb mesh type of knit construction. You may already know that the Direction of Greatest (Best) Stretch – or DoGS is in the lengthwise direction parallel to the selvage. You can always tell the DoGS on any mesh fabric by pulling it. When you pull on the fabric across the width from selvage to selvage, you will see the honeycombs getting larger as you pull. The honeycomb becomes quite clear as you pull. This is NOT the Direction of the DoGS. You are pulling the fabric apart, so to speak.
Conversely, if you pull the fabric following the selvage, you will see that the honeycomb does not get larger, if anything, it shrinks to almost nothing. This is the Direction of the DoGS. In other words, the DoGS in power net run parallel to the selvage.
Use Doubleknit Power Knit
This versatile heavy spandex knit is typically used for leggings and other sportswear. But it can certainly double (no pun intended) as a back band fabric. It comes in some of the colours you are not likely to find in a power net, such as yellow, orange, bluebird blue, kelly green, forest green, chocolate and silver. But…you may find, that the Doubleknit Power Knit fabric is NOT the same as the Power net. Not at all the same in fact. Our Power NET is a honeycomb knit, while the Doubleknit is a regular KNIT fabric, so the stretch is different. It stretches a LOT in one direction and has only “mechanical give” in the opposite direction. That doesn’t mean you cannot use it. You just have to use it differently.
The direction that stretches most – which is across the fabric from selvage to selvage, is what I call the LONG way. If you use that direction as the DoGS, your band will stretch a lot and you will likely have to shorten up the band to get the same degree of hold you would expect.
However, the opposite direction, along the selvage is what I call the STRONG way. That provides a very firm hold and can be used as a power net to replace it in the back band.
Smaller cups can use Stretch Mesh
If you have smaller cups, say, smaller than a 4.0 in our BCD system, you might consider using stretch mesh. Stretch mesh comes in a number of bright/unusual colours and is quite sheer to boot. Since it is a mesh knit construction, it behaves exactly as you would expect a regular power net to behave. The DoGS run parallel to the selvage.
Use Swimsuit Fabric or other Spandex knits
The world is your oyster if you enter the world of spandex knits made for high-quality swimwear. Often the swim fabric has only slightly less stretch than regular power net. I will remind you to check for the Direction the BEST stretch to use for the situation at hand. Sometimes that will be parallel to the selvage and sometimes not. You may opt to use the fabric in a direction according to the design on the fabric instead of the optimum DoGS direction. Perhaps, in that case, you may want to use two layers of the fabric to help strengthen the fabric. Two layers of fabric are always stronger than one layer, but two layers do not necessarily reduce the stretchability by half.
Use Stretch Lace over a Second Fabric
You can always use a stretch lace over a stretch fabric to strengthen the underlayer and make it firm enough for a back band. Anytime you double up the fabric, you will reduce the stretch on the double layer, and stretch lace is no exception. How pretty would it be to have lace over the band fabric? Using two fabrics, such as stretch lace over another stretch fabric always helps strenthen the fabric on the back band. Just be sure that the two fabrics stretch roughly equally, as the two together will not stretch further than the least stretchy fabric (which is usually the lace)
I hope I have given you a few ideas about substitutions for power net and that you try them out sometime soon.
Hi Beverly! Thanks for these alternatives to power nets; they’re very helpful. I’ve been taking your craftsy classes, and they’ve been amazing. However, l I’ve been having an issue I thought you could help out with. I noticed that my breast don’t sit in completely in the bra and there’s gaping at the bottom of the bra. And this makes the full coverage bra seem like a demi cup because the breasts doesn’t go all the way into the cup. Is this maybe a lower cup issue that is too small?
Do you have a beginner tutorial for making a sports bra/bralette (no underwires) for a chesty lady (40D)? I’m having a hard time buying supportive sports bras that are elastic straps cup to back as the high back yoke versions make my neck and shoulders very sore. Going to have to figure out how to make them myself and need help 🙂
I have two sports bra patterns (Allie and Kerri), and one non-wired bra pattern that a lot of women use for sports bras (Ingrid). They are all very easy to make up, so as of yet, no tutorial has been done. However there are several blog posts on Ingrid so you could start there and see how it goes together.
I forget that it’s possible to use other fabrics for the back band- am definitely going to expand the materials I use.
Thank so much for the reminder and encouragement!
We all get into the fabric of using the same fabrics over and over and lots of times, while in reality, there are numerous other options we could try!
Thank you. Very helpful article.
Thanks for the very helpful information! Solves an issue I was having. Can’t wait for the BIG news!!
This is great information Beverly, thanks so much for sharing, I have printed a copy and tucked it into my manual for future reference. I can’t wait to hear what BIG news is coming!
You could even start a manual of handy tips yourself!
And here I remember being a bit upset that you sent me great quality swim fabric instead of navy powernet years ago but it was one of the most comfy bras I ever made! And I love putting lace over the powernet!
I remember that, Starr! It was a tough decision for me to make, but you wanted navy – we had to find something!
Thank you for posting this blog! I love these ideas for alternatives to power net. It had not occurred to me that I could use other fabrics in place of power net. Thank you also for posting on Facebook 🙂
Happy to oblige, Carrie. Stay tuned over the summer – we’ve got something BIG happening!
I love some of these ideas. Being over a 4.0 BCD, I never think to use anything other than powernet, but some of these sound so nice.
Especially since power net doesn’t come in EVERY colour of the rainbow!