Toddler Poncho: Design & Sewing How-To's

My daughter requested new ponchos for my granddaughters (3 and 18 months) for Christmas - so of course, I complied.  With some experience under my belt (since I had made the older girl a poncho of heavy polar fleece a year plus ago), I was ready to improve on the design, especially of the hood.  Fitting grandbabies from afar is not an easy task!  I did take some pictures as I worked, knowing I would write a blog post, so here we go, but 1st:  a picture of my two darling girls, along with their handsome Daddy.



Here's a close-up pic of them on the floor once completed in my Studio.

FWIW: my daughter says she especially loves the poncho style to keep them warm in their car/seats without all the body bulk of a heavy coat.

Pattern Drafting

First - for a pattern.  Since a poncho = a circle, that was easy enough. But, how long?  What should be the dimensions of the inner circle (neck hole)?  Again - without the girls close enough to measure myself, I asked for a length from neck down the arm to finished hem, and with that, I grabbed an old pattern..... mainly for the hood (which I had NOT done well with on the first poncho I'd made over a year ago.)


At least with this hood pattern, I realized that the edges of the hood met at the center front (which I had messed up on the first go-round.) Then, I also asked for a length top to neck of their heads, and also a measurement from center back of their heads around to covering their ears.







You can see in the picture to the right how I simply matched seam allowances of the front, sleeve, and back at the neckline to determine the inner circle of this 'donut' pattern scheme.  Then, adding inches to achieve the length requested, I cut a full circle by placing what you see at the right on a fold of the fabric. 

In retrospect (realizing the bulk of the double knit lining and the outer furry swirl fabric- both knits from JOANN Fabrics), I would have decreased the outer circumference of it by slashing in from the outermost edge to the center, and lapping in a few spots. Well - there's another girl on her way, so I'll have a 3rd time to try.


Here is the Hood Pattern Piece from that old pattern.

I opted for making them too large rather than too small. For the younger girls', I tucked it both vertically and horizontally based on the measurements my daughter provided.


Since I was lining the hoods with the cotton double knit, I KNEW that would take up some 'room', so again - I opted for larger rather than smaller.


I didn't write step-by-step directions, but I'll try to share the basics here. Comment with any questions and I'll be sure to try to answer.




I used a size 90/14 Stretch Needle for this entire project.

I also DID pre-wash all fabrics to be sure nothing would shrink as they are used and laundered.


HOOD STITCHING

1. Stitch the Hoods first, by seaming up the center back seam of both the furry and lining pieces. I serged to finish - mainly to flatten and trim.

2. To add the 'trim', I laid the loopy chunky yarn (a cheaper option than ball fringe, for sure!) against the outer Hood and stitched as you can see below.

3. Then I matched the outer edges of the Lining Hood piece to this, and stitched, a tad deeper than the other stitching as you can see in the next picture below.











4. That made for a VERY bulky seam allowance, so I found I needed to trim out the bulky yarn from inside the seam allowance.





5. To attach the Lining and the Outer Hood a bit, I 'stitched in the ditch' for about 2" right through the center back seams that I'd carefully matched.





6. I was shocked to see how differently sized the Lining and the Outer Hood pieces actually were at this point, at the neckline edge. See the picture below. I just trimmed the Lining off to match - and realized I'd likely have the same 'challenge' with the even bigger pieces. Knits, plus different weights even though cut from the same pattern pieces, and on the same grain - likely explain the difference.


If you look closely at the left lower edge, you can see that I topstitched the edge. I did have to rip that out for about 2" up each front edge to complete everything = as you'll see later, so if you 'follow' these directions, STOP the topstitching about 2" from each front edge. The topstitching just disappeared into the furry outer fabric.


BODY STITCHING

1. Pinning and stitching the loopy yarn took quite awhile, and much care not to stretch either. Realize that even though it looks crowded as laid on, once it flips outward, it is much more spaced. Again, I will say this chunky loop yarn made the trim VERY inexpensive!!!



2. Next steps were the same as with the hood: to layer the right side of the fuzzy outer piece over top. Pin carefully, but stitch from lining side a tad towards the center from the stitching that held on the yarn trim.




3. CAREFULLY trim excess bulky seam allowance away of the yarn.

4. Turn and steam press lightly. The ripples you see in the photo below really did go away with careful steaming, but emphasize the need to take great care to NOT stretch the edge as you work with the steps as above.













5. I actually then zig zagged to keep everything laying properly - and it truly didn't show that much, especially on the furry side.






6. All laid out flat, I pinned and basted as shown by the string in the 'middle' of the circle. Then, as you can see - again, the fabric stretched out differently. I trimmed to match, holding as close to the circumference at the neck as in the pattern as possible, as the Hood edge was that size. Don't be confused by the hood laying in there - as I decided on a different 'attach the hood' technique than what I'd started at this point.

7. Stitch both outer layer and lining layer together at the neckline.


CENTER FRONT SLASH AND BINDING

This is really the same principle/steps as a Continuous Lap Placket

1. Pick one spot to be the center front (I did this on a straight of grain spot) and slash down 4" or so. Stitch 1/4" from each of these edges to attach both layers to each other.

2. Then with a 2" wide strip of the lining, cut at least 2" longer than double the slit length, pin and stitch the right side of the strip to the WRONG side of the Poncho in a 1/4" seam.

3. Note at the lower left in the picture below, that I also have TWO elastic ponytail bands stitched to the outer side on the right side of the slit, right at the upper seam line. I figured 2 would be better than one for longevity.

4. Grade this seam allowance, then wrap the strip around the seam allowance, turning in the long edge and zig zag stitch to finish.



5. At the very bottom, I folded it and stitched diagonally - again, just the same as on a Continuous Lap Placket. Stitch slowly through all these layers.






ATTACH HOOD TO BODY

1. Find center back of each piece, key up, pin - right side of Hood OUTER LAYER ONLY to the right side of the Body. Work your way around to the center front edges which should be a flush finish. Clip stitching of Body, or 'ease' in Hood, as needed. Being knits, this is Easy.

2. Stitch, grade seam to get rid of all bulk possible.

3. Turn under seam allowance on Hood Lining, and baste to hold it all together.

4. With strong poly thread, doubled, whip stitch very securely to finish this edge.

5. Stitch on a button to the left front.


Watch your little girl TWIRL in delight!


"Nana- the room is moving!"




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