Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Universal Poncho Pattern

Looking at a poncho in a store, I figured that it was just a big rectangle attached to a small rectangle. "Hey, I could make this at home," I thought. So here's some instructions about how to determine the size of those two rectangles. This isn't the only way to assemble a poncho, or even the best way, but it's probably one of the easiest. I'm not going to say anything about how you make those two rectangles; whether you knit them or crochet them or weave them or cut them out of fleece, that's up to you. But here's how you get them:

You only need to make two measurements:

1. The distance from your shoulder to your wrist (s-w on the diagram). If you don't want to make a full length poncho, make this the distance from your shoulder to mid-forearm. Or from your shoulder to your elbow.

2. The neckline depth (nl on the diagram). This determines the size of the neck opening. It should be big enough to get your head through, but not so big that the poncho will slip off your shoulders. To determine the smallest feasible nl, take the circumference of your head, then divide it by 4. Unless you're going for a really snug neck opening (say, to make a turtleneck), you'd probably want to add a couple of inches to that. 5 inches was what I used.

Here's a bad drawing of the poncho being worn, viewed from the front:

Rectangle A is really big. It drapes all the way around, hanging over the right shoulder (the wearer's left shoulder).

Rectangle B is much smaller, covering only the left shoulder (the wearer's right shoulder).

Here's the two rectangles laid out:

Rectangle A is the width of one shoulder-to-wrist length (s-w). It is the length of 2 s-w plus 2 nl.

Rectangle B is the width of 2 nl, and the length of s-w.

And then you sew the red seam to the red, and the blue seam to the blue.

Then you can add a finishing to the neck opening. Maybe a round of single crochet to just to tidy it up, or pick up the stitches with smaller needles and add some ribbing. Or knit in the round up 8 or 10 inches to make a turtleneck or cowl neck.

And that's it. Pretty simple eh?


Anonymous said...

Could you use two identical rectangles and join them end to side?

Anonymous said...

Yes, I think it will work better with the identical rectangles.

Anonymous said...


Sally said...

THANK YOU! I started a poncho and was having trouble figuring out how big to make it! This was exactly what I was looking for. Thank you for making it so clear and easy.

Porsche said...

How did you do it with two identical rectangles?
Thanks, Porsche

Clara said...

Well...... I've bought 2 wonderful pieces of wool, 2 remnants and this evening I'll try to make the poncho......I'll let you know.

Gayla Walker said...

so did anyone make it with 2 the same? I'm thinking about a long poncho and I'd have to increase only one side. I think that would make it very asymmetrical, but not in a good way. Thanks for your help. But this will look good for the ones I need to make for my grandkids. Thanks for your time ahead of time, Gayla

Anonymous said...

I think you should make a practice poncho and you will see why the two pieces are different sizes. For example, I am trying to figure out the neck sizing so it lays flat on my shoulders which do not slope like the drawing.

Anonymous said...

Many years ago my sister and I made ponchos. They were 60inch wide coat material by 60inch long. Just cut round hole for head,sewed lining material same size onto all straight edges,wrong side. Turned right side out thro neck hole, finished edge at neck. (We then added fringing all the way along straight edges.) Wore with points down front and back. Really warm Winter weight jacket and so easy!!

Barb said...

I am having a problem getting this to work. Luckily I used an old sheet. I don't have the child with me, but she is 4' 6" tall and her fingertip to fingertip measures 50 3/4". Can you be of any help?

Unknown said...

I made mine with 2 squares, mine being approximately 29" square. One side was on the fold and I sewed the other leaving an 8" opening. On the folded side I cut 8". That left an opening to put my head through and the front and back fold down which looks great! Easy peasy! The pattern shown above would give it some design lines, but mine was a plaid and it worked better with just one solid front.

Anonymous said...

THANK YOU! This was exactly what I was looking for. Thank you for making it so clear and easy. I made this a short length to the elbow and turned the points to the back and had a straight front [more like a cape]. Both seams are in the front and looks great, going to make lots more like this.

Paddy Balsdon said...

And if you made a long rectangle and joined a short end to the side of the long end., ie, making it all in one piece - I think that would work too.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this! I do not sew (I mean I can sew on a button or a small rip but it isn’t pretty). Having said that I used this to make the cutest little poncho with a furry front for my daughter’s fox costume for Halloween. Yay!