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.