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Fabulous Ponte Knits

An easy blend of stretch, structure, and contemporary style
Threads #207, Feb./March 2020

If you were stranded on a desert island with only one fabric to sew, it should be ponte knit. It’s not your grandmother’s polyester double-knit—the stuff of 1970s leisure suits—but the luxurious rayon/nylon/spandex ponte of today. This fabric is featured in high-end sportswear and separates collections from discerning designers. Home sewers can purchase top-quality ponte knit affordably, and make wardrobe basics and fashion forward pieces that are wonderful to wear.

What is so special about ponte knits? For starters, they are elegant. Their smooth surface and wrinkle-resistant hand give the look of a finely woven fabric but keep garments looking fresh and lovely all day. Ponte offers the comfort of a knit, but with some stability. Contemporary ponte includes a large percentage of rayon, which is soft and breathable, and is a year-round fabric in most climates. The knit construction has some give, with up to 50 percent stretch, but it’s also firm enough to supply subtle shaping and to smooth less toned areas of the body.

When you’re choosing fabrics for a wardrobe, you’ll find that ponte is versatile. A top-quality version is sufficiently structured for durable pants and softly tailored jackets but is also supple enough for shells, T-shirts, dresses, and cascade-front cardigans. Finally, ponte is easy to sew and to care for. Its flexibility minimizes fit challenges, reducing the frustration you might experience when working with a woven.


Seek high-quality versions

The term “ponte” describes the fabric’s double-knit construction: It consists of two interlocking layers of single-knit stitches. Not all ponte knits are created equal. Unfortunately, the low-end ready-to-wear market has created some negative impressions of ponte knits—that they sag or stretch out of shape, are hot and uncomfortable to wear, and pill easily. Here are some secrets to…

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