What is a Ponte Roma? And How Do I Sew It?

If you’re a fan of Tilly & the Buttons, specifically the ‘Coco’ pattern you may already be intimately acquainted with Ponte Roma fabric. If you’re not, let me introduce you…

What is Ponte Roma?

Ponte Roma, otherwise known as Ponte di Roma or Punto di Roma is a double knit fabric that was first developed in Italy. The name ‘Ponte Roma’ roughly translates as Roman Bridge – because the structure of the loops resembles classic roman bridges. Or at least that is the theory, you can see for yourself in the image below.

single knit structure and double knit structure fabrics diagram

A double knit fabric is essentially two layers of fabric knitted together with two sets of needles. The machines used to create this fabric are often known as ‘double knit’ machines or ‘dial and cyinder knitting  machines’. While it is possible to get home knitting machines, double knit machines are often designed for creating larger quantities; and as you can see from the image below the machine itself is quite a large affair. As the machine whirs away it creates two layers of fabric, so the fine ribs you often see on one side of a jersey fabric, is actually visible on both sides of this fabric.

double_jersey_rib_knitting_machine

Historically most Ponte Roma’s were plain; however patterns, and especially stripes, are now becoming more and more popular. It is also worth reading all of the product description with this type of fabric – no matter how tempting it is to buy just because the colour of it! Nowadays it seems that quite a few Ponte Roma’s include elastane to give the fabric a bit of stretch.

The Perks of a Ponte Roma Fabric

 ponte de roma fabric, what is it, how to sew it

I know from experience, that as a new sewer (or even a practised sewer that is just not used to jersey fabric) sewing knits can seem challenging – they can stretch, they roll up at the edges, they can offer a whole new bunch of never-thought-of-that type problems. Though Ponte Roma (or Ponte di Roma, if you prefer) is substantially easier than most.

Being a double knit also means that Ponte Roma fabric is often of a medium weight, this means it is better suited to more structured garments rather than draping clothes. However it also means that it will hide any lumps or bumps we might not want on show, and is brilliant for any garments you do not wish to line.

The double knit structure makes the fabric a bit firmer and more stable – so it doesn’t roll at the edges and is a lot easier to sew than normal knits. Especially if the Ponte in question does not contain elastane.

Many Ponte Roma fabrics can be used for reversible clothes – that is to say, because of the way it is made there is not always a clear ‘face’ of the fabric. Though again, this would depend on each every individual fabric, so it is worth checking before you rev up the sewing machine.

On a personal note, one of the reasons I like Ponte Roma fabric the most, is that it resists creases and wrinkles. I have far too much sewing to do, to constantly worry about ironing.

Tips for Sewing Ponte Roma/Ponte di Roma Fabrics.

 ponte de roma fabric, what is it, how to sew it

  • We would always recommend washing and drying your Ponte Roma fabric before you begin cutting and sewing it, just to remove any shrinkage – though there shouldn’t be too much, it is better to be safe than sorry.
  • Like any fabric, try to refrain from pulling or stretching the fabric as it goes through the sewing machine – knitted fabrics don’t always recover as well as other types.
  • A size 80 needle can be used, but more importantly a rounded headed needle will glide between the loops and not snag or tear the fabric as you sew.
  • If you have a pattern that calls for an all-way stretch jersey or knit, this fabric will work just as well as one that is advertised as a ‘4-way stretch’ fabric.
  • As this fabric is a lot more robust than single jerseys, it can be used to make jackets as well as dresses and skirts.
  • A great pattern for people new to sewing Ponte Roma is this Vogue Pattern.

ponte roma sewing tips pattern vogue

If you want to try sewing Ponte Roma fabric yourself, you can view our range here.

3 Comments

  • Reply
    marysiap
    19/09/2015 at 11:29 AM

    Thanks so much for these hints and tips. Haven’t dipped my toe into sewing with knits yet, but I will hopefully have time this winter.
    Sharing this on fb and its gone onto my pinterest board too. Thanks for the fabulous advice.

    • Reply
      Rebecca
      21/09/2015 at 3:14 PM

      Thank you for your comment, it’s really nice to know that we’ve managed to help people with our tips 🙂 Be brave and give knits a try, once you get the hang of them they can make some fabulous garments.

  • Reply
    Derek Western
    11/12/2016 at 11:12 AM

    Hi. Great site and thank you for the tips. We (my partner and I) have just bought miles of Ponte Roma and appreciate the tips on sewing, especially the “ball point” needle.

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