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.

Cheetah print ponte dress

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!

Cheetah print ponte dress

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.

Cheetah print ponte dress

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!

 

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Comments


  • Lauren
    April 18, 2013

    Yay ponte!! I’m so glad we discovered this amazing fabric… and have kinda-sorta-matching dresses to boot 🙂 Carolyn is totally the Patron Saint of Ponte hahaha, so so true.

    As for that pattern, I always just passed over it because I didn’t think I cared much for the style, but your dress is making me second-guess that decision. It looks wonderful!

    • Ginger
      April 18, 2013

      Thanks, girl! I really like this pattern. It’s got pretty similar seaming to the hoodie you made recently… you could totally add a boyfriend pocket to the back of this!

  • Susan
    April 18, 2013

    Two years ago I purchased ponte (rayon, polyester, lycra mix) at a reputable fabric store, after hearing all the rave reviews, and sewed a travel wardrobe for a trip to Italy. I washed and dried it before sewing, as always. It was a dream to sew. However, my 10 day holiday wasn’t even over before the fabric began to pill! It wore terribly!! Pilling everywhere, really noticeable in a solid colour fabric. I have barely worn the slacks since then, though they fit beautifully and were very comfortable. The jacket has been slightly less problematic, only because the easy, flowing style offers less opportunity for rubbing during wear, though under arms and across chest are pilling heavily. I was so disappointed and am loath to try this fabric again. That’s one downside of sewing — if I’d purchased these clothes I could have returned them as soon as the problem arose. Has anyone else run into this problem with Ponte?

    • Carolyn
      April 18, 2013

      Ponte like all types of fabrics are manufactured well (the kind I find at Mood) and/or poorly which can be found in other places. In my experience, there’s really been no way to tell if you’ve ended up with a poorly woven piece. However, I can vouch for the pontes at Mood – having made several garments with them and not experiencing any pillage so far. I do try to stay away from thinner pontes, I like a medium/heavy weight ponte best. I’m sorry that you experienced difficulties with the version of ponte you purchased!

      • Amy
        April 28, 2013

        Good to know, Carolyn! Thanks for the extra advice. And, wonderful dress Sonja! It looks like a comfortable dress you could wear anywhere! Even work!

  • Carolyn
    April 18, 2013

    Sonja – I LOVE your dress! One it is soooooo you! And two, isn’t ponte the absolute best to wear! You look fabulous in this!

    • Ginger
      April 18, 2013

      Thanks, Carolyn! You’re the best! Thank you for your help!

  • Lori
    April 18, 2013

    Ginger, this dress is so cute on you. The perfect combination of fabric and pattern. A big thank you to Carolyn, Patron Saint of Ponte for showing everyone the wonders of this fabric!.

    • Ginger
      April 18, 2013

      Thank you, Lori! 🙂

  • Kay
    April 18, 2013

    It looks lovely on you. Ponte is a wonderful fabric 🙂

    • Ginger
      April 18, 2013

      Thanks, Kay! I’m happy to be a ponte convert!

  • anne jewell
    April 18, 2013

    i, too, find the pilling to be a big problem with ponte–perhaps because i want to wear my garments for such a long time. also, it feels very hot to me on my body.

    • Ginger
      April 18, 2013

      I think I will handwash this to try to avoid pilling. I like that it’s warm, though– my office is FREEZING! 🙂

  • BeaJay
    April 18, 2013

    That is one cute dress. Love the print and can see why you are so happy with it. Great job.

    • Ginger
      April 18, 2013

      Thanks, BeaJay!

  • Peter
    April 22, 2013

    Such a cute dress, Sonja. Ponte rules!

  • Amanda S.
    April 22, 2013

    This is a great dress on you, Sonja! I have a few ponte dresses and always wash them inside out and in a mesh bag, then drip dry. It’s the rayon content that pills. Modal is really bad at doing that too.

    • Ginger
      April 30, 2013

      Thanks for the tip! I’ll definitely do that!

  • Diana Deap
    April 22, 2013

    This dress is so cool and looks so great on you! I love it!

  • Sarah Gunn
    April 23, 2013

    Absolutely love this dress on you! So glad this second time around was a good sewing experience 🙂