Ponte Fabric: A Complete Guide
Today we’re going to dig deep into a pile of ponte fabric…what a nice, soft, comfortable place to be! Join me as we explore all the ins and outs of ponte. And when you’re ready to start your own project with ponte fabric, check out the great selection at CaliFabrics!
Definition of ponte fabric:
Officially named Ponte de Roma, ponte is a double knit fabric. It’s very soft and sturdy fabric which can be used to make a wide variety of garments.
Ponte is usually 59/60” wide and usually has 4 way stretch. It can be found in lightweight, midweight and heavyweight varieties. The fabric content varies from poly/rayon/lycra to rayon/nylon/spandex blends.
Comparison of ponte fabric weights:
Ponte can be found in three different weights; light, medium and heavy. Each of these three weights has different advantages, so I dug a little deeper into them for you. This is the nitty gritty on the 3 specific ponte fabrics shown in these pictures. In all the pictures, the order from left to right is lightweight, midweight, heavyweight.
Lightweight Ponte: (I used this royal blue ponte.)
stretch: 4 way 75%
thickness: thin but opaque, comparable to rayon spandex
care: machine wash cold, air dry
drape: soft folds
Midweight Ponte: I used “lagoon green.”
stretch: 2 way 125%
thickness: medium, comparable to a good quality jersey
care: machine wash cold, lay flat to dry
drape: medium folds
Heavyweight Ponte: I used emerald green.
stretch: 4 way 100% horizontal, 35% vertical
thickness: substantial, comparable to liverpool or double knit
care: machine wash cold, tumble dry low
drape: structured folds
To illustrate a little more about these three weights of ponte, I sewed a t-shirt for my daughter from all three. (More details about the pattern I used over at the Skirt Fixation blog.) All three use the same pattern and the same size. From the front, you can see the differences in these shirts, especially if you look at the arms. Also, around the hem, you can see how the lightweight conforms to the body while the heavyweight almost stands away from the body and holds its own shape.
Looking at the shirts from the sides, compare the area around where the waist goes in. You can see how the fabric lies.
From the back, also look at the waist area. You can see how the fabric folds and drapes in this area.
Sewing with ponte fabric:
As I mentioned above, ponte is a very stable fabric to work with, which makes it very easy to sew on both a sewing machine and a serger. If it does happen to stretch a little bit while you’re working with it and you get a wavy seam, a quick steam with the iron takes out all the undulation for a beautiful seam or hem. You will want to use a ballpoint or stretch needle. If you are sewing several layers of a heavyweight ponte together, you might want to use a walking foot.
Caring for ponte fabric:
Usually it’s ideal to wash ponte fabric on cold and dry it in the dryer before sewing your garment. After the 1st laundering, I wash on cold and hang dry. But since ponte does shrink on the first laundering, I throw it in the dryer on the 1st cycle just in case someone “helpfully” does my laundry for me!
Katie has some more super helpful tips for caring for ponte in this post.
Inspiration for ponte fabrics garments:
The things that can be sewn with ponte fabric are almost endless! Here are some garments made with ponte to inspire you that have already been shared on the CaliFabrics blog. (Click on each name below the photo to go to that post for more details.)
Is there anything else I’ve left out about ponte? Yes, I realize I did not address one pressing question about ponte fabric…how is it pronounced? Pont-ee? Pont? Pon-tay? Well, that’s about the only thing I don’t know about ponte? Leave a comment, I’d love to learn more about this basic, staple fabric! (And if you’re the authority on pronunciation…clear up that mystery, would you please?)