Gosh, darn Pilly Ponte

Glenda Sparling

Posted on October 20 2021

 I do love Ponte Roma, but the surface sure does pill.  What is Ponte and why does it pill?
Ponte Roma Jersey (aka Ponte Di Roma) is a double knit, jersey fabric made of polyester, viscose/rayon and spandex. ‘Ponti di Roma’ means ‘Roman bridge’. Looking at the fabric up close, you will see a loop structure that resembles bridge arches.
I recommend my  students bring Ponte Roma for their yoga pants projects.  It's an ideal beginner's knit if the student has never sewn with knits before.  It's stable, the edges don't roll.  It's smooth and resilient.  And best of all, it feels oh so comfortable on.  It’s also very figure-flattering – being a medium weight knit, it is great for hiding imperfections! It can come with either a 2 or 4 way stretch.  The lighter weight Ponte is great for tops, skirts and dresses.  Whereas the heavier weight is wonderful for pants and skirts.  In the photo below, the pants are of a heavier, 4-way stretch Ponte which is simply perfect for our winter weather.
Ponte Pants
This photo is of 4 students in one of our Fit & Sew Retreats who completed their 'Yoga Pants' project - all sewn with Ponte Roma.
Yoga Pants
So with all these wonderful properties why does it pill?  After 4-5 washings it can look like it's been worn for years.  Such a shame.  Often times the Ponte with a high percentage of polyester pill.  But I've also found that a Ponte with rayon can pill.  Some experts say the ideal fiber content is rayon/nylon/lycra.  Generally, nylon is an indication of quality.  Nylon fibers will add to the luxurious feel of smoothness against the skin.
But why does it pill?  It's not only the fiber content, but the way the yarn is made and processed.  To make a polyester yarn soft, the original smooth extruded fiber is cut into short lengths and spun into yarn.  The yarn is then constructed into fabric and in the case of Ponte, is made into a double knit.  Because the polyester synthetic yarns are so strong, when they are rubbed, tiny elements of those short fibers pop out from the yarn and form pills along the surface.
What can you do about this?  Sorry...not much.  You can brush the pills gone.  Wawak sells a tailor's brush that looks like this.
Tailor's Brush
And you can always use a sweater shaver.  But no matter which tool you use to remove the pills, unfortunately they will still come back with wear and washing.  Oh...so sad.
But this hasn't stopped me from sewing up at least 8 pairs of yoga pants in various leg shapes.  I simply love the feel of Ponte on and as I said earlier, this fabric is so easy to sew with.
Caprezio top and Cargo jacket
The first photo shows an entire outfit sewn with Ponte.  The Yoga Pants instructions are found in our pants designing book - Pants that Mix n Multiply.  The top is the Caprezio top with complete directions from our Caprezio Top Sew Along.
The second photo features more of a flared leg pant style, though still from the Yoga Pants directions in Pants that Mix n Multiply.  And they are shown with the Cargo jacket (directions in this digital Fashion Leaflet) and a simple gathered front center tank top underneath.
Most of the time, you'll see Ponte Roma only in solid colors. I got lucky once though, on a shopping trip, and found this lovely red and black striped fabric which I quickly purchased and then used to make this Color Blocked T-Shirt.
Color-Blocked T-Shirt
It's now a part of our digital download collection on our website. Click here to access: Color-Blocked T-Shirt 
Happy fitting and sewing...
Glenda the Good Stitch!
Sure-Fit Designs Glenda the Good Stitch

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