Almost all bras contain a mix of different textile fibers. For example, cotton, often used for the band, contains elastane to give it that much-needed elasticity.
Nylon, another contemporary contender, boasts moisture-wicking properties for comfort during intense workouts. However, it can stretch out with repeated use and frequent washing.
Bra Fabric Blends Modal
Modal is a semi-synthetic fabric that looks and feels like silk. It’s soft, lightweight, and breathable, usually blended with cotton and spandex. It’s considered more eco-friendly than mainstream cotton since it requires about 20% less water to grow and uses far fewer chemicals. It’s also biodegradable and doesn’t shrink as much as other fabrics when washed.
The main modal manufacturer is the Austrian company Lenzing, which uses a closed-loop production process that reuses 99% of the solvent and recycles their water. They also don’t source their wood from endangered forests, like other brands that produce this fabric.
Unlike other synthetics, modal is softer than viscose and doesn’t have the same itchy, scratchy feel that many people find unpleasant in their underwear. It’s also more resilient and durable than viscose, so it’s a great option for ethical activewear or any clothing that will be put through the wringer. It’s also a good alternative to silk because it doesn’t require chlorine bleach and can be hand-washed with a mild detergent like Dropps All Natural Bleach Alternative or Oxi Booster.
Bra Fabric Blends Elastane
In addition to elasticity, elastane provides durability and shape retention. It is often added to fabrics designed for close-fitting clothing like skinny jeans and t-shirts and activewear such as swimwear or cycling clothes. The material also works well in combination with sustainable natural fibers like cotton.
Lace, commonly used in luxury lingerie, often has some elasticity to help it conform to the body’s curves. In most cases, lace is made from either polyester or cotton and can be a great addition to any bra.
Elastane is the best fabric for bras, often combined with polyester or polyamide fibers for bras that require high strength and durability. The result is a fabric that holds its shape and doesn’t fade easily after repeated washing. Silk is another common fabric for lingerie with high comfort levels, but it’s expensive and difficult to take care of. It is usually mixed with other fibers to make it more affordable. A good example is charmeuse, traditionally made from silk but found in various fabrics now.
Most of us wear bras daily, but most don’t think about what they’re made of. This is a shame because many fabrics are used to make the lingerie we wear under our clothes, each with pros and cons.
One of the best woven fabrics for bras is satin, which has a lustrous front and matte back. It feels very comfortable against the skin and provides an exclusive feel. It can be made from silk or polyester, usually combined with another material for stability.
Another option is duplex, which is a low-stretch knit fabric. It has very little mechanical stretch on the cross-grain and no lengthwise stretch, but it has excellent recovery. It is often used for bra cups, bra frames, and bridges. It also blends well with stretchy materials, which is why it is the fabric of choice for lining bras. It is usually a mix of nylon and spandex, which gives it some lengthwise stretch without compromising its transparency.
Duplex is a low-stretch knit fabric made of 100% polyester. It is a lightweight fabric with a drape that is perfect for lingerie clothing, has very little mechanical give on the cross-grain, and has no stretch along the length. It is typically reversible, with one side matte and the other shiny, and is soft to the touch. It can also be found in various colors, including some sheer options. It is an ideal fabric for beginner bra makers, and it is recommended to use it as their first project before moving on to other specialized materials.
While this post is specifically geared toward bra making, it’s important to note that many of the same fabric manipulation techniques used to create fabrics with low to no stretch can also be used to develop materials for other garments. These include corsets, underwear, and camisoles. The basic concept is the same: you will need a durable fabric with good elasticity to hold the shape of your body and allow it to stretch as you move. Elastane is a common ingredient in these materials, providing lasting elasticity and durability to prevent deformation and wear.
Silk is a luxurious, soft, and smooth fabric that feels beautiful next to the skin. It has a breathable natural sheen, helping regulate body temperature and keeping you cool in the heat and warm when it’s cold. It is a high-end fabric often used for luxury lingerie, like a silk bra.
Silk also comes in various textures, from satin (a fabric weave with a high surface shine) to crêpe (a duller, textured fabric that doesn’t show every bump and lump on the body). These fabrics make luxurious loungewear, pajamas, robes, and slips.
There are also several silk blends, including stretch mesh (also known as power net), which has very little mechanical stretch on the cross-grain and no stretch lengthwise. This is a good choice for bra bands as it will hold its shape well and won’t compress or lose shape with wear and washing.