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  • Writer's pictureLonda

Toddler Poncho How-To DIY

Updated: Jun 2, 2022

Today, I share my How-To’s for creating a simple poncho – AND it gives me the chance to show off my sweet, gorgeous granddaughter! Her mom requested a poncho for ease in keeping her warm in the car seat without the bulk of a heavy jacket. Off to Jo-Ann’s I went, and looked at the top quality fleece. I found this nice and heavy one in lovely shades of purple and aqua.

Twirling Fun

It seems the best features of her Poncho are:

  1.  It TWIRLS!  She’s definitely all girl as she seems to instinctively know when something will ‘twirl’.

  2. The soft PomPom trim around the circumference.  I must admit, I was tempted to put the trim on the edge of the hood as well.  While that would have been cute, her Mama and I agreed that was a big risky and too tempting to chew on and possibly choke, so I resisted.

granddaughter in poncho and pants
It twirls!
in carseat with poncho on

Yardage Requirements

Given her wrist to wrist armspan of just 27″, I knew that I could easily get a poncho out of just 3/4 yard, but I purchased a full 1 yard piece instead. With the 60″” width of this fleece (as most are), I ALSO was able to quickly cut a pair of 1 seam pants from a pair of her pants while we were there at Thanksgiving, and stitched them up as well.

Draft the Circle Poncho

The ‘Poncho’ is really a ‘donut’.  The circumference of the outermost circle is the same as the armspan of the person, wrist to wrist.  For my Kenzie, that was 27″.  I added 1″ for a 1/2″ ‘hem’ all around so that gave me 28″.  The radius of the circle then is half that, or 14″.  You can see my creating that circle from a large piece of pattern tissue in the first photo below.

cut large circle 14" radius
inner circle for head

To cut the ‘hole’ for the head, I looked up the circumference of a child’s head on an easy-to-find measurement chart online.  That was 17-19″ for her age.  Very honestly, I didn’t keep enough notes on my pattern drafting, but the pictures that I DID take indicate that I drafted an ‘inner circle’ with a radius of 3.5″, or a diameter of 7″ which yields a 21″ circumference of that inner circle.  What I CAN tell you, is that that was too large – leading me to the pleated type of closure you see at the center front as can be seen in the photo below if you look closely.

granddaughter in poncho and pants

Granddaughter Kenzie struttin’ her stuff in poncho and pants made by Nana.

In retrospect, I would have been better off to have subtracted, say 2″ from the 1″ head circumference giving me 15″  which calculates a 4.77 (say 4.75″ diameter as Circumference = 3.1416 (PI) times diameter).  THAT in half = 2 3/8″ for a radius of the inner circle I SHOULD have cut (instead of 3.5″) .  However, note you ALWAYS allow for a seam allowance.  See the 2nd photo above.

Hem/Trim the Lower Poncho Edge

Hemming was as simple as turning under the 1/2″ allowed hem and stitching on the pom pom trim as shown below.  

adding fringe to edges

Create the Hood

Without any kind of pattern available for a hood, I (as I like to say)  ”Winged It”.  I had asked for measurements of the depth of her head and was given 8-10″ from back to front, and 10″ tall.  With that info, you can see that I decided on a pattern that was 10″ tall and 6″ inches deep.  I wish I had made it at least 2″ deeper, front to back.  The ‘seam’ goes down the center back of the hood.  Since I made this, I’ve been observant of ‘hoods’ and see that the best-shaped ones have a centerpiece and 2 sides.

hood pattern

I seamed and finished with serging, the center back seam of the hood.  Given that there would be no pompom trim around the hood, I ‘finished’ that edge with the blanket stitch on my machine as shown below, trimming the excess from the wrong side after stitching.  Centering the back seam to what I arbitrarily decided was the center back of the poncho, I just pinned it to the circular opening and stitched.

At this point, I had a chance to do a ‘fitting’ on her at Thanksgiving.  All agreed that the hood was fine, but that the neckline altogether needed to be cinched in some, so that led to the loop and button finish.

trimming excess close

Final Poncho

When we met to return our grandson the following weekend, I was able to deliver the completed poncho, and all seem to love it.  If I were to do the hood again, I’d have made it deeper, and had a casing in the front edge for a ribbon to pull it tight around her sweet little face.  However, if I’d recut the hood to do that, there would not have been enough fabric for the matching pants.  It is obvious to me that, as sewers, we are WAY TOO HARD on ourselves, and that we just need to listen to what others think and ‘go with it’.  This was really a fun, pretty quick project, and we all love how purple and aqua seem to make her big brown eyes all that much cuter!

in carseat with poncho on

Sew…what are YOU making these days?  Do you also have the challenge of ‘fitting’ as you try to stitch on little ones that live far away?  Comment below to share.


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