Posted on September 13 2019
The Lady in Red (Ponte Roma)
Sewing with Moderately stretch knits for beginners .
There are many different fabrics which stretch, some more difficult to sew than others. Some just stretch along the width, others will stretch every way, and it is these we want to avoid .
This fabric is called Ponte Roma and it is a delight to sew. Some knit fabrics can be extremely challenging even for experienced sewers - the edges curl up, it stretches out of shape as you sew it and you need special equipment such as a walking foot and a LOT of patience!
Ponte Roma is a double knit fabric, so it looks the same on both sides. It doesn't have much stretch and this factor alone makes it easy to sew, even for a beginner.
It is easy to care for and it can be tumble dried.
A word of warning though. Although it doesn't shrink very much, a strong colour like this red bleeds, and if you do not wash it before sewing you will end up with dye stains on just about everything - the ironing board cover, your underwear and even your sewing machine. Don't say I didn't warn you!
There are many patterns for knit fabrics to choose from. They all have a guide on the top of the pattern back specifying how much the fabric needs to stretch in order for the garment to be successful. This pattern shows that the fabric needs to stretch just a small amount and so it is perfect for Ponte Roma.
If your pattern shows that you need a lot more stretch then it will not be suitable for this fabric . You do need to be guided by the pattern when choosing your fabric so take it with you when you go shopping and test the fabrics against the guide.
I spent a few days testing patterns and making a toile (or test garment) out of a length of cheaper fabric to see which pattern I liked best.
Tilly and the buttons patterns are an excellent choice and come with complete easy to follow instructions.this particular pattern has various length and back options ,so this would be a good choice.
You can purchase it from Jaycotts if you click on this link Tilly and the buttons. Romy pattern
It is quite a loose fit so if that is the style you like this pattern is for you.
These are two more pattern choices
Firstly, this one McCalls tops
And the second one I particularly like as whole outfits can be made from your ponte Roma using the one pattern Vogue knit collection
The pattern I am using is this one McCalls Tops Tunic and Dress
The photographs on the website and my pattern shown above are very different
But trust me whichever version you have it is the same pattern!
The pattern gives the option of making a dress, tunic or top with sleeve and neckline variations.
The garments in this pattern are close fitting so if like me you prefer a close fit then this pattern is for you. No matter which pattern you choose, follow the instructions and I will give you added tips as we go along.
If you look at the back of your pattern you will find a measurement chart. On some brands there will be a finished garment size too. On other patterns you may have to hunt for the finished measurements, ( sometimes they are printed on the pattern tissue) but they are very useful in deciding which size to cut out.
Take your measurements, wearing the correct underwear, and compare these measurements to the ones on your pattern and use the size which corresponds best. If necessary go up a size as it is always easier to take a garment in rather than let it out. Never rely on your ready to wear size as they will not be the same
The pattern I am using has fabulous fitting guides so read them even if you don't use them this time, they are useful to refer to in future in order to get a better fit. At the moment we are beginners and whilst we want to achieve the best fit possible I don't want you worrying over the advanced techniques.
As the fabric is the same on both sides it is easier to sew it together if you mark the reverse of each fabric piece either with a small piece of masking tape or a small cross made with tailors chalk.
Ponte Roma is a very easy fabric to sew but you do need one or two things, for example you definitely need a new stretch or jersey machine needle Stretch fabric machine needles
These needles push the fabric fibres aside as you see, and so they avoid damaging the fabric.
You need pins too , fine ones are best, and a pin cushion - I like this magnetic one Magnetic pin cushion with pins
You do not need to use any fancy stitches or special sewing machine feet such as a walking foot.
All you need is a sewing machine which does a basic zigzag stitch.
Take some spare fabric and experiment with stitch width and length until you are happy. You only need a very narrow width - just enough to give the stitching a bit of stretch. Then make a note of the settings so that you can return to them.
It is important that you stay-stitch any areas which you do not want to stretch out of shape. Your pattern will tell you which areas need to be stay-stitched, but certainly the neckline will need it .it's very easy, just run a row of stitches just inside the seam allowance.
Another nice easy feature about this pattern are the raglan sleeves , so there is no tricky set in sleeve to worry about.
Ponte Roma does not fray! Think about that. You do not need to finish the seams before hemming. This speeds up construction enormously.
Most of the seams and hems are top stitched. After the top stitching has been completed the seam allowances can be trimmed back right to the top stitching. This makes for a surprisingly neat finish. You need to take a lot of care not to accidentally make a hole in your fabric though and for this reason I highly recommend Duck Billed Applique Scissors The wider part sits on the outer fabric and you can then snip away the seam allowance with no worries about damaging your fabric.
If you want to you can finish the hems by using a twin needle
It gives a very nice finish to the hems but it is not necessary if you do not want to use one.
Do check your sewing machine manual because on mine I need to alter a couple of settings when using a twin needle.
My manual shows me how to attach the spool pin which is needed for the second bobbin of thread.
When it comes to finishing the hem you need to turn it up 5/8" and press it flat with a steam iron. Please do not risk scorching your fabric, you must use a Pressing cloth
The hem is curved, and on my dress the back is lower than the front so mitre the corners if you can otherwise fold the corners as neatly as you possibly can. Using plenty of steam and your pressing cloth carefully shrink the hem until it is flat.
Then top stitch and clip the hem allowance close to the stitching.
When it came to fitting the collar I lowered the neckline slightly, adjusting the collar accordingly, but this is just personal preference.
Patterns are a canvas really. You can add embroidery, trims and other embellishment to suit your personality and your fabric choice too makes the garment your own.
The dress is lovely as it is. And I am delighted with it. It was very easy to make and is extremely comfortable to wear.
For me, I like a fitted dress and so a belt was an obvious choice for me. I also like colours which clash and I chose purple tights, purple boots and a purple belt. This is how I shall wear it.
Of course if you do not want to make a dress then it's fine to start off with a top.
As we discussed at the beginning, choose the pattern you like best.
It is important that you love whatever it is you are making otherwise sewing will not be enjoyable.
I hope that you have enjoyed reading this introduction to sewing stretch fabrics. If you have any sewing queries there is a contact form at the bottom of my blog page or if you are reading this on Jaycotts web site they will pass your message onto me.
Thank you to Jaycotts for your support