How to Sew a Simple Poncho
There are few things that feel cozier than wrapping a blanket around yourself. What I wouldn’t give to go through my day running errands or having a cup of coffee with friends while wrapped tightly in my favorite throw.
Unfortunately, there are also few things that will cause people to wonder about your mental well being, and wandering in public wrapped in a blanket is one of them. This is where ponchos come in—an acceptable way to be as comfortable as possible and still look stylish (and sane).
In the past, I’ve tried to make a pattern for a circular poncho, but the math involved was too confusing when figuring diameters and such (you should never mix letters with numbers, if you ask me).
As I was sorting through my summer clothes, I came across a lightweight top and I realized it was basically just two rectangles sewn together with a gap in the middle for my head, and in a heavier material would be very much like a cold weather poncho. So I tested it and made a few, and I discovered that the options and possibilities were plenty. And, most importantly, it was EASY.
How to Sew A Simple Poncho
Note: Fabric that is 60" wide is ideal for this project and accommodates most heights nicely. The instructions below assume this width. They are also written assuming your fabric does not fray. If it does, or if you choose to make it with a double-faced fabric, alternate instructions are included at the end.
1. Measure from your neck to about an inch below your wrist, with your arm straight out from your shoulder. Add 1”.
2. Cut two pieces at this calculated length, using the full width of the fabric.
3. Place the two pieces right sides together along the width and mark the middle. On either side of this mark, measure 7”—this 14” section will NOT be sewn and will become your neck hole.
4. Sew these pieces together along the width, leaving the middle section open, using a 1/2” seam allowance. Backstitch at either end of the neck opening to reinforce it.
5. Press this seam open, including at the neckline, folding the unsewn edge under by 1/2”.
6. Topstitch your seam allowances, from one end to the other. That’s it!
If you’d like, you can add a decorative hand or machine stitch at the bottom. A blanket stitch is a great option.
If the fabric you choose frays, but you have a serger:
1. Add 1.5” in step 1.
2. Before sewing your pieces together, serge each edge to be sewn.
3. To finish, serge the perimeter of the poncho and press it under before top stitching it down.
If you do not have a serger or are making it reversible:
1. Add 4” in step 1.
2. Sew the two halves together using a 1” seam allowance.
3. Before topstitching your seam allowance, turn it under and press.
4. To finish the bottom, press .5” under around the perimeter, then press under another 1/2”. Stitch the folded hem down.
How to Sew A Poncho with Less Bulk
One variation I really liked, both stylistically and because I am kind of a small person, was to remove the excess fabric from around my arms, like I did with the reversible version.
Now, it does waste some fabric, but it looks great. If you choose to do this, you will fold your poncho in half lengthwise, and then widthwise:
Measure and mark 6”* down from the top right edge, and 6” across from bottom left edge. Take a long ruler and draw a straight line. Cut along this line. Voila! You could also put a nice curve there instead for a softer look.
*If your fabric frays and you have a serger, measure 6 1/4” before you finish the perimeter edge. If you are not using a serger for fraying fabric, measure 6 1/2” before you finish the perimeter edge.
Fleece doesn’t fray and would be about as cozy a fabric as you can get (lack of fray = major plus). You could make a small version for your favorite little one and cut scallops around the edge— obviously, you’d use a smaller width. It would make a great summer cover up in a lightweight fabric; calculate the length from your shoulder to your elbow for a less bulky fit.
As an added bonus, you can rotate the poncho and wear it boatneck instead of v-neck.
Wool Melton Sale!
Allie sewed her poncho in Indiesew's Grey Wool Melton and coverstitched the hems with a contrasting red thread. This luxurious fabric is discounted for the next week, by a whopping 40%! Use coupon code WOOLMELTON at checkout to receive the discount.
Happy poncho sewing!
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