Hooded Fleece Poncho Tutorial

I am excited to finally share this tutorial with you. Janna has been testing the finished result for about a month and we both love it.

You see, I decided to make Janna a fleece poncho when the weather was getting colder because I don’t put her jacket on her while she is in her carseat. So, every time we would get out somewhere I would have to put her little arms in a jacket, zip it up, and then take it off again. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. several times a day while running errands and we were both getting tired of the process.

So, I decided, after 5 children, to make life simpler and figure out how to make her a hooded poncho that was easy to get on and off. Here’s the finished product.

Now, I know Janna is cute, but look at the poncho, too. ;)

Here’s what you will need to make a poncho for a toddler or preschooler. I haven’t tested this with larger sizes, but I just bought some fleece this morning to make one for Julia so I will let you know how that turns out.

Materials

  • 1 yard of Fleece
  • Thread
  • Scissors
  • Sewing Machine
  • Rotary Cutter & Mat (optional)
  • Fold Over Elastic (optional)

Instructions

1. Fold the fleece into fourths and cut it to a size of 36 inches by 36 inches for preschoolers or 36 inches by 32 inches for toddlers. (Note: I would advise cutting it a little on the big side and then cutting it smaller if necessary. You can always take away fleece, but you can’t add more.)

Update: Basically, you want the unfolded dimensions to be 36 inches by 36 inches. I fold it into fourths to more easily cut it. So, it would be 18 by 18 folded.

2. Curve the fleece at the corner like in the picture below, or leave it straight if you prefer. I personally like the rounded edge look.

3. Cut the neck opening. You will be cutting where the four layers of fabric meet, folded, at the corner (not the raw edges-that is what you cut in Step 2). 

For preschoolers you will cut the opening at 3 inches, curving it as you go. This is where the cutting mat comes in handy because you can just cut from the 3 inch mark on the bottom to the 3 inch mark at the side.

For toddlers you will cut the opening at 2 1/2 inches.

The picture below really is a good guide for cutting the main part of the poncho.

4. Cut a piece of fleece for the hood that is 16 inches by 12 inches or 16 inches by 11 inches for a toddler.

5. Fold the fleece in half, right sides together, so that it is 8 inches by 12 inches for a preschooler or 8 inches by 11 for a toddler .

6. Using a 1/4 inch seam allowance, sew the one 8 inch side together.

There are actually two 8 inch sides once you fold the material, but you only need to sew one.

Here is another picture to help you better see the folding and sewing process using a piece of paper.

hooded poncho 2

7. Turn the hood fabric so that the seam line you just stitched in Step 5 is on the inside.

Here is a picture of what the hood will look like when you have sewn one 8 inch side together and then turned it right side out.

hooded poncho 3

8. Pin the hood evenly to the poncho. Match the seam on the hood with the center back of the poncho. The short sides of the poncho should be going from left to right.

You want the long part of the poncho to be in the front and back to cover the most length. This is kind of a big deal because if you pin the hood on so that the longest part of the poncho is on the sides your child will never be able to find her arms :) and there might not be enough length.

9. Stich around the raw edge of the hood using a 1/4 inch seam allowance.

You can call the poncho done at this point…

…however…

If your opening is too big that really isn’t a problem. Grab some fold over elastic and you will be able to fix the opening and make the poncho even cuter.

10. To add fold over elastic you will need to open up the elastic around the entire opening of the poncho. You will enclose the raw edges of the poncho and hood in the elastic.

I don’t pin it on, but simply tack it down at the back with a zig-zag stitch. Then, I set my machine to the three step zig-zag stick but a regular zig-zag stick or even a straight stitch will work.

As I sew, I gently pull on the elastic so that it is taught but not too tight. When I get back to the beginning I fold the raw edge in and cover the spot where I started.

I am sorry that I forgot to take pictures of this step, but you can check out this post for more details.

There, that’s better. Actually, I am kind of glad I cut the opening too big and added the fold over elastic because I think it really finishes off the poncho nicely.

To finish the poncho even more you could add more fold over elastic around the front of the hood. I would suggest not pulling it tight but treating it more like bias tape.

We are loving this poncho and Janna even likes to wear it around the house sometimes. Who wouldn’t love wearing a fleece blanket that doesn’t fall off? :)

If you have any questions please let me know. I will be sure to update this post when I make Julia’s poncho. I wasn’t sure she would want one, but she surprised me by asking me to make her a poncho, too. You never know with 13 year olds. :)

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  • Alicia

    I just bought a yard of fleece and was getting ready to follow your directions for cutting it to the appropriate size for my granddaughter but when I fold my fleece into fourths there is no way it even comes near to 36×36 for a preschooler size. When I fold it into fourths mine measures out to only be 30″ x 20.5 “. Are we to actually cut the 36×36 square out BEFORE we fold it into fourths? Thanks for any help! (2/8/13)

    • http://www.blessingsoverflowing.com/ Jackie

      Alicia, I am so sorry I am just now getting back to you. I have been taking care of sick kiddos. I need to reword the directions because I see how you got confused. Basically, you want the unfolded dimensions to be 36 inches by 36 inches. I fold it into fourths to more easily cut it. So, it would be 18 by 18 folded. Does that make sense? I am so sorry for the confusion. Please let me know how the poncho turns out.

  • NW Ohio

    Just made my niece a poncho for her birthday and it turned out great! I did alter the directions a bit by cutting out a second poncho in a coordinating fabric and sewing the two (right sides together) leaving an opening near the back of the neck for turning right side out. This made a heavier warmer poncho as it is super cold where we live.

    • http://www.blessingsoverflowing.com/ Jackie

      What a wonderful idea! Thank you so much for sharing. I may have to try that. I need to make my little girl a bigger poncho soon.

  • Pam

    Jackie – can’t figure this out. if you have a 16×12 piece of material and you fold it in half to make 8×12, then you sew the two 12in raw edges together – you get a tube not a hood. where did i go wrong?

    • http://www.blessingsoverflowing.com/ Jackie

      Maybe I need to reword that somehow if it is too confusing. When you fold the fabric you end up with two 12 inch raw edges that are now together. You want to sew the 12 inch side together not the 8 inch side. Yes, you will have a tube, but you will turn it into a hood when you sew it to the neck opening of the poncho (Steps 7-9). Please let me know if you need more help and I will try to explain it better.

      • Pam

        looking at your photo – which is adorable btw, it doesn’t look as though you have a tubed hood, it looks like the hood covers maybe 3/4 of the neck opening. that’s where i’m confused. if you work the tube into the neck opening, then the top is open. i would understand the seam if it was two pieces of material and not folded. i don’t why i can’t grasp this. :( so sorry

        Pam

        • pam

          if i look at the photo between steps 4 and 5 – take the right edge of the material and fold it over to left side and sew the 12 raw edges tog. then looking at that finished product, the right side is a fold and the left side is a seam and the top and bottom are open, hence a tube. what am i not seeing? seriously i’ve been sewing for decades – i don’t know what i’m doing wrong.

          • http://www.blessingsoverflowing.com/ Jackie

            Pam, let me get some fleece out and see if I can figure out a better way to word this and get back with you. Can you take a break from the project until I do?

          • pam

            hey!
            i’d love to see how to do it. it’s making me nuts that i can’t figure it out! thank you for any help you can offer. (try it with paper or something – don’t waste good material on me)

          • http://www.blessingsoverflowing.com/ Jackie

            Pam, I can only apologize to you. I tested my instructions on a piece of large paper and I can’t believe how bad I goofed in my instructions. I feel sure I double checked them when I posted them. I am going to change them ASAP.

            You need to sew one of the short sides that you will get when you fold the hood. I am going to add a few pictures I did with paper to better illustrate it. I am glad you brought this to my attention. I was just going to make a new one for my little girl since hers has become too small.

          • http://www.blessingsoverflowing.com/ Jackie

            I am again so sorry, Pam, for the incorrect instructions on the hood. I don’t know how I missed it. Well, I do. I have 5 kids and my little one was still pretty young when I posted this. It isn’t an excuse, but hopefully it will help you understand my mistake.

            I have updated the post and added a couple of pictures to help better illustrate how to make the hood. Thank you so much for bringing this to my attention. Hopefully, it will help someone else who tries to make one of these.