I could wear Ponte fabric all the time because it’s super comfy and yet looks so stylish. It’s perfect for so many garments. But what is it? Is it a woven fabric or a knit? What is Ponte fabric?
A Ponte fabric is a blend of polyester, rayon, and spandex. It’s a double knit with both structure and stretch. These two traits create streamlined garments that are relaxed and comfortable to wear. Either as casual garments or office apparel. Ponte can be used to make close-fitting dresses, pants, skirts, and tops.
In this article, we’ll look at Ponte fabric in detail. From its advantages to its many uses. Read on to find out if Ponte is the ideal fabric for your next garment project.
What Is Ponte Fabric?
Ponte fabric is a stable knit made from a blend of polyester, rayon, and spandex. It originated in Italy back in the late 1960s/early 1970s as a fabric for designer clothing.
The full name of the fabric is Ponte De Roma which is Italian for “Bridge of Rome” or “Roman Bridge”. It’s thought the name refers to the pattern of the fabric’s interlocked yarns. They look like little arches. This is reminiscent of the arches found in two famous styles of Roman bridges, the aqueduct and the viaduct.
These days you’ll find the fabric has a few different terms. From Ponte Roma, Ponte di Roma, Ponteroma or the more common, Ponte. In all cases, it is pronounced as Pontee.
Unlike some knit fabrics, Ponte doesn’t unravel or run. It’s a thick fabric compared to other knits because it is a double-layered material. Otherwise known as a stable knit, Ponte has structure, excellent drape, and a comfortable stretch.
The fabric is available in lightweight, mediumweight, and heavyweight options, making it an ideal textile for various projects. You can make form-fitted dresses, comfy pants, and structured pencil skirts from this versatile material.
What Is Ponte Knit?Ponte fabric is a member of the double knit family of textiles. Double knits are made from interlocking two or more yarns together in the same row. This creates a fabric with a similar look on both sides. Because of this construction technique, some double knits, like Ponte, are considered reversible.
All double knit textiles are classified as stable knits. A stable knit is one with a limited 2-way stretch. Some don’t have any stretch at all. Usually, if there is some flexibility, it’s only across the width of the fabric. The lack of stretch gives double knit fabrics more structure and better drape.
If you compare this with a single knit, like a sweater knit, for instance, you’ll see they have a more relaxed appearance. Single knit fabrics are known as unstable knits. They create apparel that is more slouchy. You can tell a single knit from a double knit by pulling the fabric along the width. It has a lot more stretch and will naturally curl to the right side of the material.
So, where does Ponte fit in? Well, as a double knit, it possesses many of the characteristics of its stable cousins, like ribbing. When released, it will stretch across its width and return to its original size.
Unlike other stable knits, Ponte can stretch like an unstable knit. This is because it is a blend of rayon, spandex, and polyester. All three fibers give Ponte more flexibility and better recovery. Coupled with its tightly woven interlocking yarns, Ponte has excellent shape retention, perfect drape, and is practically wrinkle-free.
What Is Ponte Fabric Made From?
A Ponte fabric is a blend of synthetic and semi-synthetic fibers. It’s usual to find a mix of rayon, polyester, and spandex in your Ponte knit. You can also find some Ponte labeled as viscose, elastane, and nylon, although this is slightly less common.
As rayon is a viscose fabric and spandex is the brand name for elastane, the only real difference in the fiber content for some Ponte materials is nylon or polyester. As both are synthetics with similar properties, swapping those two doesn’t impact the fabric that much.
Ponte knit fabric comes in different weights, which can be used for different projects. Lightweight Ponte is an excellent choice for garments with a drape. The heavier the Ponte is, the more structure the garment will have.
One heavyweight Ponte rising in popularity at the moment is Scuba fabric. This is probably the most structured Ponte fabric of all. With incredible shape retention, Scuba fabric is a Ponte double knit mixed with a small amount of neoprene. Originally reserved for wetsuits, neoprene adds stability to the fabric that allows you to create artistic shapes and forms to your garments.
Key Ponte Fabric Properties
Ponte Fabric is considered to be breathable due to its viscose content. Viscose is the generic name given to fibers derived from wood pulp. These fibers, although natural, are mixed with chemicals to make them soft enough to turn into fabric.
The best-known viscose is rayon. Rayon’s wood pulp base gives it a breathability factor similar to other natural fibers like cotton. This ability to breathe overrides the properties of the synthetic fibers in the Ponte, creating a comfortable, breathable fabric suitable for a variety of climates.
Strength and Durability
Unlike other knit fabrics, Ponte is run-resistant and doesn’t unravel. Both these attributes are down to the fiber content of the textile. As a synthetic and semi-synthetic mix, it has the best of both the artificial and natural fiber worlds.
Polyester is known to be one of the strongest fibers available. Coupled with the amazing stretch and recovery of spandex, Ponte is a stable fabric with a lot of flexibility. This ability to stretch as you wear it prevents the fabric from ripping or tearing. Add that to the abrasion resistance of rayon, and you have a fabric that’s both soft to wear and able to take the day-to-day knocks of a busy life.
As a fabric, Ponte is soft and comfortable. Even the heavier-weight Ponte fabrics have a light, flexible feel making them a pleasure to wear. This fabric can stretch when you need the freedom of movement yet remain structured enough to hold any lumps and bumps hidden from view.
Like a jersey fabric in feel, a Ponte knit makes an ideal material if comfort is important to you. It will give you the same streamlined look like a tailored garment, but without the restrictive, rigid feel of a woven fabric. Smart attire is as comfortable as casual clothing when the fabric it’s made from is Ponte De Roma.
Ponte fabric doesn’t have many disadvantages, apart from being prone to shrinking. This tendency to shrinkage usually occurs after the first wash. Because of this, it’s best to prewash your Ponte before you start to sew with it.
The amount of shrinkage can vary. You can be looking at anything between a modest 5% to around 15% in any direction. Make sure you prewash the fabric in a warm wash followed by a medium heat setting in the dryer. This should ensure all the shrinking is out of the way before sewing any garments.
Although you can purchase Ponte fabric in a shiny finish, it isn’t a material normally associated with shine. Any shine in the textile does tend to be more muted than the shine you’ll find on a glitzy party frock fabric like taffeta.
A Ponte fabric is more likely to be found in a matt finish because it tends to be used for more functional, utilitarian-style garments. Like the everyday wear suitable for office work, or general day-to-day activities, for instance.
Polyester, spandex, and rayon are not known for their ability to keep you warm. Rayon fibers are better known for their cooling properties in summer. When the fibers are combined into a Ponte knit though, the story changes. Breathable and close-knit, Ponte can help keep you warm.
Not only is it a two-layered fabric or a double knit, the yarns are tightly interlocked creating a barrier against the cold. Ponte pants, for instance, are perfect for when the days are cold enough for tights, but you want something a little thicker for that extra cozy factor.
As a fabric, Ponte is relatively cheap to purchase. Although it has stretch, it doesn’t tend to be as popular as the more well-known stretchy knit fabrics like jersey.
When you’re looking for Ponte, it’s always a good idea to try to buy it in person. That way, you can make sure the quality and flexibility of the fabric are what you are looking for. As far as Ponte and apparel sewing is concerned, it’s still a relatively new and unknown material. You should be able to find it at a bargain price.
What Are the Benefits of Ponte Fabric?The benefits of Ponte outweigh the fabric’s disadvantages. Although you need to be careful when washing the fabric, particularly the first time, Ponte has more good points than bad.
It’s a material that hit the jackpot when it was designed. This is because it has the best features of the three fiber types that go into making it. Rayon, spandex, and polyester are a match made in heaven when they are part of a Ponte De Roma fabric.
Spandex gives Ponte fabric a stretch and flexibility that most of the other double knit materials don’t have. Not only that, but spandex enables the fabric to make form-fitting garments that help hide those bumpy sections of our bodies we’d all rather ignore.
It has stability and drape, thanks to the rayon content. Garments made from Ponte fabric are structured and streamlined in the same way as a tailored garment is. The difference with Ponte is the garments are free from the stiff, rigid nature tailored apparel is usually known for.
Thanks to the polyester, Ponte doesn’t fray, tear, or run. It doesn’t unravel like other knits either. This makes it a durable fabric with inbuilt longevity. Perfect for business or pleasure and able to withstand the rigors of life, a Ponte knit will keep you comfortable, and moving freely all day, every day.
Combining the benefits of polyester, rayon, and spandex creates a Ponte knit fabric that molds to the body and streamlines the silhouette. Flattering yet comfortable and soft to wear, you won’t feel restricted like you can in a tailored suit.
What Is Ponte Fabric Used For
Ponte fabric is versatile and can be used for a range of garments. Whether you need apparel for a smart business lunch or a comfy outfit for a shopping trip, Ponte is a perfect choice. Let’s take a look at some popular garments that look great in Ponte.
PantsYou can make different styles of pants from Ponte knits. The fabric is suitable for leggings and smart office pants. A pair of pants made from a Ponte fabric is comfortable and form-fitting.
You’ll find Ponte pants are less close-fitting than leggings but lighter to wear than pants made from other materials.
They can also be teamed with tunics to hide a problem stomach area or a slim-fitting t-shirt for a cool, summer look to show off your curves.
SkirtPonte fabric and skirts go together like bees and honey. The two complement each other so well, they enhance the good points of each other.
The structure and superior shape retention of a Ponte fabric give a touch of class to an A-line skirt. While the amazing stretch can make the tightest of pencil skirts, a joy to wear.
Some fabrics struggle with dresses. They need to have different properties for the bodice area and the lower half. While some materials can work well as a top, their lightness or being prone to wrinkles can be a disaster for the bottom area. Or the fabric can be resilient enough for frequent sitting, but too heavy and stiff for the top half.
With Ponte fabric, you have the best of both worlds. Stretch for a comfortable bodice area and resistance to wrinkles for the skirt section. Better still, the fabric is figure-hugging, which can accentuate your silhouette while hiding those bits you’re not so fond of.
Ponte Fabric by the Yard
You can buy Ponte knit fabric from most fabric outlets online and from a local fabric store. Usually, the width will be in the region of 58/60 inches wide, so it’s an economical material to purchase.
The actual cost depends on your location, where you buy it from, the quality, and whether the fabric is plain or printed. Its weight will also make a difference to the price. As a ballpark figure, you are looking at between $5 – $16 per yard.
Is Ponte Fabric Easy to Sew?
When it comes to sewing with a Ponte knit, it’s a piece of cake. All you need to do is treat it as a double knit fabric and use the “with nap” cutting layout on your sewing pattern.
All double knits can be sewn on a standard sewing machine with a ballpoint needle and a zigzag stitch. A walking foot will help stop the fabric from sliding as you sew. For a professional look, you can use a serger on your seams.
If you find you have wobbly seams after you have sewn your garment, it’s an easy fix. Simply steam them with an iron and they should even out. Make sure you only use the steam, though. Ponte is synthetic, so won’t like being touched with a hot iron.
Ponte Knit vs Jersey
Jersey knits and Ponte knits are part of the same family and have many of the same characteristics. From being stretchy to having a relaxed and comfortable feel.
The main difference between the two fabrics is how they are knitted. Although you can find jersey fabric as a double knit, it’s more common as a single knit. This means it is an unstable knit will less structure and form than a Ponte.
Jersey is used for comfortable and casual garments like loose-fitting t-shirts because it doesn’t hold its shape as well as a Ponte knit. It also has a lower recovery rate, meaning when it gets stretched; it doesn’t always return to its original size.
Ponte, on the other hand, is always found as double-knit. The arches within the knit pattern interlock together to create a thick fabric with both flexibility and shape retention qualities. You can stretch Ponte and it will return to its original size and shape without any trouble.
Caring for Ponte Fabric
Ponte fabric can shrink the first time it’s washed so you should always prewash it before sewing with it. This will also remove any chemical residue leftover from the manufacturing process.
Once you have gone through the first wash, subsequent washes will be easier and less likely to cause shrinking. Bear in mind Ponte is a synthetic, though. You should machine wash on a cold setting and allow the garment to air dry where possible. If you use a dryer, make sure it’s on a cool setting and a short timespan.
The great thing about Ponte is it doesn’t need to be ironed. It’s a wash-and-go fabric with incredible resistance to wrinkles.
There aren’t many fabrics as versatile and forgiving as Ponte. Even if you leave it crumbled in your closet for days, it will still look fresh and wrinkle-free when it comes out. Comfortable and stylish, a Ponte knit is a must-have fabric for your wardrobe.
Let me know in the comments if you liked the article. Has it given you the inspiration to use Ponte in your next project? What will you make?