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 instead of just grabbing the shears and going crazy. 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 Megan Nielsen’s ruched maternity skirt for my sister. What I didn’t realize is that ponte and stretchy jerseys aren’t necessarily interchangeable. If I’d slowed down and actually read the pattern envelope I would’ve noticed that Megan 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.
When I found this awesome gray leopard-print ponte, I knew it was time to try again! I looked in my copy of Claire Schaeffer’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!
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 great 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.
I used the Victory Patterns Lola Dress pattern, which I highly recommend. It’s cute, sporty, and crazy easy to construct. I’m rapidly becoming a Victory Patterns superfan– Kristiann’s designs are just so modern and fun! Check them out if you haven’t already (and you now have the option to purchase her designs as paper patterns, if you’re someone who hates PDFs… Rachel, I’m looking at you! LOL!) I made a straight size 4 with no changes (unless you count skipping the little triangle at the neckline… my serger kept eating it… whoops).
The whole time I was sewing this, I looked forward to pairing it with my awesome fuchsia tights. It would look SO AMAZING with fuchsia, right? So when I finished up, I ran to my closet and started digging. Turns out that not only could I not find my awesome fuchsia tights, but once I started thinking about it… I don’t actually own any. And never have. I IMAGINED THEM. IMAGINARY FUCHSIA TIGHTS. Anyway. I need to A) make some fuchsia tights and B) get my head checked. Moving on…
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.
What about you guys? How do you dress for work, if you work outside the home? Knit dresses– yea or nay? Have you sewn with ponte? Have you sewn any Victory Patterns designs?