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How to make a poncho

Updated April 25, 2018

Ponchos are an all-weather combination of coat and blanket and you can make one from any heavy, warm fabric, including knit and crocheted blankets, fleece or even oilskin. Woven or knitted ponchos are often made from brightly-coloured yarns in a combination of wide and narrow stripes and woven patterns. The vaqueros of the American West and the gauchos of South America both wore ponchos and used them for coats, blankets and pillows.

Decide what length of poncho you want. Ponchos are usually at least wrist length when your hands are at your sides, but can be made thigh or knee length if desired.

Decide what shape of poncho you want. Ponchos can be a circle of fabric with a hole in the centre for your head, or they can be a square of fabric folded in half. Other possibilities are a series of diamond shapes sewn together into a large circle, which then has a small circle cut away for the head.

Measure twice the length of fabric you need, then fold your fabric in half, with the 1.4 metre (54 inch) width going across what will eventually be the shoulders of your garment. For a circle poncho, use T-pins to hold the fabric in place on a padded work table while you draw a freehand circle whose radius is the intended length of your poncho. Therefore, if you want your poncho to be 1.2 metres (4 feet) long, the radius of your circle will be 1.2 metres (4 feet). For a rectangle poncho, fold a fabric square in half and cut away a circle whose circumference is 10 cm (4 inches) larger than the circumference of your head.

Bind all seams around the head hole and hem to prevent fraying and curling. If you want fringe, sew it on or simply make cuts along the hem and allow the fabric to ravel.

If desired, you can make pocket slashes or attach patch pockets.

Things You'll Need

  • 5.5 metres (6 yards) of 1.4 metre (54 inch) wide, heavy, colourful knit or fleece fabric
  • Tape measure
  • Scissors
  • Seam binding
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About the Author

Jane Smith has provided educational support, served people with multiple challenges, managed up to nine employees and 86 independent contractors at a time, rescued animals, designed and repaired household items and completed a three-year metalworking apprenticeship. Smith's book, "Giving Him the Blues," was published in 2008. Smith received a Bachelor of Science in education from Kent State University in 1995.