Just what is Ponte, anyway?
“Ponte” is a generic term describing a kind of durable, wrinkle-resistant, easy-to-maintain fabric blend. Originally developed by knitters in Italy, it’s sometimes referred to as “Ponte di Roma” (meaning “Roman bridge”) for its interlocking stitch construction. Today, ponte is available to sewists in many varieties. Commonly found on the racks of contemporary and business-casual retailers, the material is a popular choice for professional, feminine garments. But it also makes excellent athletic and leisure-wear. Like leggings, ponte is cozy, with two- or four-way stretch. Ponte is a double knit and heavier than a typical legging, however, meaning it’s office-appropriate and offers a range of styling possibilities. At least one part synthetic but more breathable than polyester, lighter and more flexible than denim and just as easy to style—ponte belongs in just about any capsule wardrobe.
This guide is a basic introduction to the material, intended to help you navigate purchasing, sewing and caring for this sewist-friendly fabric blend.
Ponte typically knits together synthetic and natural materials. It often contains either nylon, spandex, rayon or polyester with cotton or linen. Its quality and weight can vary by manufacturer. Your choice of fabric (heavy, light or midweight? which pattern, color, blend?) will depend on the needs of your project. Ponte is known for yielding smooth, strong, comfortable garments.
Synthetic materials like polyester have an association with poor taste and cheap, uncomfortable clothes from decades past. The yarn blends in most pontes, however, are smooth, comfortable and easy to wash or mend. Nylon, a common component of ponte, is often blended into fabric to make it smoother. It’s certainly possible to find thin, poor-quality pontes on the market. Talking with a retailer and taking time to examine fabric samples will help you make an informed purchase. Zelouf Fabrics will send you free fabric swatches and we strongly recommend that clients take advantage of this service.
The good news is quality ponte fabric is easily accessible and plenty of it will be affordable for most sewists, even those on a budget!
Zelouf International designers are happy to advise shoppers in our showroom, by phone at 212-221-3131 and via email at email@example.com.
What should sewists know about working with ponte?
Ponte is an excellent fabric for beginners! The material is especially forgiving and hardly wrinkles. Holes made in this kind of double knit will be permanent, but as a rule ponte is difficult to tear, flexible and unfussy on a sewing machine. Beginners might think of ponte as a heavier, sturdier jersey. And it’s reversible!
Because it’s so soft, ponte isn’t an obvious choice for structured garments. But that doesn’t mean tailoring is off-limits. This “miracle fabric” can perform beautifully—in the right hands—as a jacket, for example. As a guideline, however, we can assume ponte is best for projects that require minimal tailoring.
What issues might arise with ponte garments? How does the fabric wear?
Ponte garments sometimes pill up with age, which can be a consequence of fiber blends that contain a high percentage of polyester. Pilling is additionally a symptom of various kinds of material rubbing together during the yarn-spinning process. Shorter fibers pop out of the yarn and form pills.
Resist the temptation to pull pills off your clothes! This could create a snag. We recommend using a fabric brush instead.
The best technique for brushing fabric, especially for the purpose of removing pills, is:
- Steam the item. Ironing may burn polyester or melt other fabrics, like scuba ponte.
- Garments should be laid out on a clean, flat surface and all objects should be removed from any pockets.
- Remove dust and dirt by brushing in long, sweeping motions with a firm hand (this step is slightly different for other fabrics, which require brushing against the “nap” or “fuzzy side” [think: velvet] first).
Never scrub or scour in small sections—this could damage the fabric. Treat the fabric like a friend; be gentle.
- Brush in the opposite direction using the same long, sweeping motions and firm hand. Eventually, pills will have been combed down enough to lie flat against the material again.
Finally and most importantly: once pilling begins it’s likely to persist. You will need to take these steps again if you continue wearing the garment. Fortunately, brushing requires only two or three minutes to keep you looking fabulous.
If you like, you may brush garments after each wear, which is recommended by luxury retailers.
Which of Zelouf Fabrics' ponte fabrics should I use for my project?
Skimming this guide should make clear: ponte is one seriously versatile fabric! And, you’ll be thrilled to learn, it is particularly figure-flattering to a broad spectrum of shapes and sizes.
Some inspiration to get you started:
Going Out, Dressed-Up Party Attire, Costumes and Dancewear
We recommend: Ponte di Roma with Stardust Foggy Foil (in black with either silver or gold shimmer) and Josie Lurex Ponte.
These fabrics add texture and dimension to your garment without weighing you down. They’re materials that look like a special occasion unto themselves! And yet they retail at prices within a penny-pincher’s budget.
Lurex is metallic and adds a glittering luster to each color available in the Zelouf Fabrics digital library. Offered in neutrals, jewel tones and soothing lavender or gray, your mood and personal aesthetic can be your palette.
Stardust foils in ponte create a gorgeous sheen effect that catches the light whenever you move. Lightweight, glamorous and giving a luxe shine to your projects, ponte with foil fabric might be just the right touch for a wedding reception, party or costume.
General Use: Workwear, Day-to-Night, Cute PJs or Athleisure
We recommend: Scuba Ponte varieties including Rayon-Nylon-Spandex Ponte.
Scuba ponte is a “techno fabric,” which means it incorporates new functionalities and technologies into traditional textiles. Zelouf Fabrics’ scuba pontes drape beautifully and offer great stretch, plus they’re cozy, professional-looking and durable. This material is one of our all-time most popular fabrics.
Zelouf Fabrics offers pontes in a vast array of prints and colors. The more you browse, the more informed you’ll be, and the better you’ll set yourself up for successful sewing, which is our company’s ultimate goal. Look at you!: after sorting through our catalog and this guide you’re a bona fide connoisseur. Carry on, sewists!