Jan 9, 2018

Gosh, darn Pilly Ponte


I do love Ponte Roma, but the surface sure does pill.  What is Ponte and why does it pill?

Ponte Roma, originally from Italy (hence the name) is a double knit which is constructed with interlocking stitches that connect the front and back surfaces - like a Roman bridge. Now the term is used generically for double knits in a variety of weights, fiber content and cost from very spendy to low price.

I recommend my Fit & Sew Retreat 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 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.

This photo is of 4 students in our recent Nov 2107 Retreat who completed their 'Yoga Pants' project - all sewn with Ponte Roma.

So with all these wonderful properties why does it pill?  After 4-5 washings it can look like they been worn for years.  Such a shame.  Often times the pontes with a high percentage of polyester pill.  But I've also found that a ponte with rayon can also 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.

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.

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 there are shown with the Cargo jacket (directions in this digital Fashion Leaflet) and a simply tank top underneath.

And last, but certainly not least, here is Anna, our Canadian Sure-Fit Designs distributor wearing her ponte Yoga pants which she sewed during her training Retreat.

Happy fitting and sewing...
Glenda the Good Stitch!


  1. Not all Ponte pills. I've bought some ponte from Marci Tilton and some from Distinctive Fabrics in Canada, neither of which ever pilled and the pants from both those suppliers are two years old. However, I have bought some from other online fabric stores and one pilled so badly that I had to throw the pants in the garbage after wearing them five times.

    1. Thanks for your input. Glad to hear you've found a reliable, non-pilly ponte.