Cheetah-Print Ponte Party!
Since joining the Mood Sewing Network, I’ve really enjoyed sewing with new-to-me types of fabrics. It’s really pushed me to develop my skills and do more research before I cut into a new fabric. Today, however, I’m revisiting a fabric type that I used once before to make a garment that was an irreconcilable failure… ponte!
I’ve never purchased or really seen garments made out of ponte, but once I started reading rave reviews of it, I was curious! So about a year ago, I picked out a gorgeous black ponte from Mood and admired its heft and drape before stitching up a maternity pencil skirt for my sister. What I didn’t realize is that ponte and stretchy jerseys aren’t interchangeable. I didn’t read the pattern envelope very closely or I would’ve noticed that the designer recommended jerseys with 40% stretch or more, so when I tried the skirt on myself for comparison, I could barely wiggle into it, and I wasn’t pregnant! I couldn’t figure out a way to refashion it into something wearable (it was seriously TIGHT on me), so the whole thing is still buried somewhere in my scrap pile.
When I found this awesome gray cheetah-print ponte, I knew it was time to try again (Mood has all kinds of pontes here)! I looked in my copy of Claire Shaeffer’s Fabric Sewing Guide, but couldn’t find a reference to ponte. So I went to the best reference, the Encyclopaedia Ponteanica, otherwise known as Carolyn! She’s the patron saint of ponte, and makes incredible, cool garments with it alllllll the time. I asked her to share her secrets for working with ponte, and I’m so glad she did– my instincts were all wrong! She pretreats the fabric by machine washing, tumble drying, and pressing it. Then she sews with a straight stitch and a universal needle, size 80 for medium-weights and 90 for heavier pontes. Easy peasy!
Once I settled on a pattern, though, I realized that I could construct this entire dress on my serger. Score! It came together in a flash, and the fabric was so easy to serge and press. The recommended fabrics for this pattern are French terry, fleece knit, or other medium-weight fabrics with a slight stretch, and I found ponte to be a perfect choice. It’s stable and drapey, and has about the same amount of stretch as sweatshirt fleece, but it’s a little less casual. The pattern suggests using ribbing for the bands (to finish the sleeves, hem, and neckline), so if you want to use ponte or another less-stretchy self-fabric, just be prepared to cut them longer than the provided pattern pieces. The pattern, by the way, is the Victory Patterns Lola Dress, which I highly recommend. It’s cute, sporty, and crazy easy to construct.
I really, really love this dress! It’s beyond easy to wear and I don’t have to worry about carefully hand-washing it and lying it flat to dry. I’ve never worn or been a fan of knit dresses before– I feel you can see every last lump, bump, and panty line– but this stable ponte provides plenty of coverage. This dress passed the ultimate wearability test, too– I wore it to WORK. Folks, I’ve worn a dress to work exactly once in the last five years (and I had a pair of shorts on underneath!). Granted, I’m in an office now, but still, this is a huge deal. Thanks to Carolyn, and to Mood, for helping me conquer both sewing with ponte and my fear of wearing a dress to work!