At the time of writing we’re about to dive headlong into our fabrics for cross-season wardrobes. We know from previous years how many of you find jersey fabrics to be a practical solution for the unpredictable early-autumn weather, especially ponte Roma fabric. They’re perfect for combining with other fabrics to emulate the elegant layers created by designers such as Eileen Fisher.
Over the last few years we’ve become much more confident about working with knit fabrics – especially ponte Roma fabric – so much so that it’s now regarded as ideal for beginner projects. There are lots more patterns available for ponte Roma fabrics – in fact we’d go so far as to say it’s the perfect fabric to create your own simple design from scratch.
What’s so special about ponte Roma fabric?
So what are the qualities of ponte Roma fabric that make it so popular? Let’s start with the composition, which usually comprises polyester, viscose and spandex in combination – occasionally with other fibres such as wool or silk. The basic polyester/viscose/spandex balance will vary. Fabrics with a higher spandex content will typically have more weight and will stretch more. A higher viscose proportion will enhance the draping qualities and bring much more softness to the handle whereas more polyester generally gives a ponte Roma fabric more structure and durability. Whatever the precise proportions, the composition of a ponte Roma jersey fabric means that you’ll usually have a fabric with some structure, some crease-resistance, stretch to help with fit and to some extent, a draping and soft handle. Any fabric that delivers on all those fronts can hardly fail to please.
Ponte Roma fabric is a doubleknit jersey. That means it’s knitted on a machine with two needlebeds, using a distinctive combination of interlocking and plain knit structures.
That knit structure means that it’s generally a reversible fabric (therefore perfect for those draping, unlined waterfall-front jackets) with faint self-stripe pattern detectable on the surface of the fabric.
Those layers of interlocking knit also mean that it’s a stable fabric; it holds its shape when you cut it and has a much less fluid structure than a singleknit jersey. As a knitted fabric it doesn’t fray and although it might rumple a little bit if you’re sat on a garment, creases will tend to drop out and won’t be particularly noticeable. That makes it a fabulously-practical fabric for travelling and workwear.
Ponte Roma jersey fabrics can be printed – here’s one of our recent favourites.
They can also be striped…
…and can have their weave structures adapted to accommodate a wide variety of textures, such as this ‘cloqué’ or ‘blistered’ version.
And what about that name?
There are a couple of theories – one being simply that Rome (Roma) is historically well-known for its knit fabrics. Ponte Roma fabric is a similar fabric to another doubleknit known as ‘Milano rib’ – so ‘ponte Roma fabric’ could simply be the name given to distinguish it from that jersey.
There is another – rather more poetic – theory, which suggests that the interlocking knit structure used to construct a ponte Roma fabric resembles a series of arches…
…which are also a distinctive feature of Roman bridges such as the this aqueduct.
In Italian ‘ponte’ translates as ‘bridge’, ‘Roma’ to ‘Rome’ – and there you have it – the fabric that looks like a Roman bridge. Possibly.
You’ll also see ponte Roma fabric described as ‘Punto-di-Roma’, ‘ponteroma’ or simply ‘ponte’.
What can ponte Roma fabric be used for?
Ponte Roma jersey fabrics are tremendously versatile. They can be used for elegant tops, draping layers of tunics and ‘coatigans’, dresses, skirts and a wide range of trousers from leggings to palazzo-style lounge pants. Fabulous for colour-blocking, they work equally well as casual wear and day-to-day workwear.
Ponte Roma fabrics will vary a great deal in their structure, weight and drape however – and those factors will need to be considered when choosing the right ponte Roma fabric for a specific garment.
For example a softer ponte Roma fabric with a higher viscose content might be best for a draping top such as ‘Elita’ top from Style Arc
While a dress such as the ‘Zadie’ by Tilly and the Buttons needs a ponte Roma jersey without too much stretch and a little more structure.
Leggings however require a ponte Roma fabric with good opacity and a higher proportion of spandex to give the resilient ‘stretch-and-return’ required for that garment – Pattern 6173 from McCalls is one example.
At ClothSpot we describe our ponte Roma fabrics individually. Since they all differ slightly as to composition and structure we think it’s important to tell you as much about each one as we can. If you’re in any doubt as to which to choose for a specific project then just drop us a line – we love a project and we’ll be delighted to help!
Why don’t you drop into ClothSpot Creations on Pinterest to see what people have created using our ponte Roma fabrics? There are lots more ideas than we can possibly tell you about here!
Finally, don’t forget our free sample service if you’re matching a colour or weight – we’re always happy to oblige.
Working with ponte Roma fabric
We’re not about to reinvent the wheel when it comes to the ‘How to’ aspect of working with ponte Roma fabric. Tilly and the Buttons is just one of the independent pattern publishers who offer a range of patterns using this versatile fabric – they come with clear instructions and super illustrations.
If you’re new to working with ponte Roma fabric then Tilly and the Buttons also have a really practical piece on how to sew knitted fabrics with a regular sewing machine. Their recent Tips for working with Ponte post (especially for when your pattern is designed for woven fabrics) is really helpful too!
Dive in and have a go!
We try and keep a selection of ponte Roma fabrics in stock throughout the year. We tend to have more colours and patterns available during those tricky cross-season months as well as for winter layering. You can see our current selection here.
We’d love to hear about what you’re making with your ponte Roma fabric – it’s one of those fabrics that can accommodate lots of different styles – and which never goes out of fashion. What’s your favourite ponte pattern – or do you have one on your to-do list that you can’t wait to play with? Do let us know!