Great gift to sew – make a fleece fabric winter poncho with a cowl that doubles as a hood
Hey y’all – today I’m sharing how to make this SUPER easy fleece poncho with a cowl that can also be worn as a hood. This project is perfect for a beginner because you only need to sew two seams. It’s also great for experienced sewists because you can make them quickly, and there’s not much to figure out in the way of sizing so it’s a great handmade gift. Plus fleece is usually pretty inexpensive and tends to go on sale in the fall, and it comes in so many patterns and colors you can surely find something for even picky people on your gift list.
I am a total cold weather wimp. Like bordering on ridiculous. I get out jackets for any temperatures below 70 degrees, basically. Have you ever seen a Chihuahua dog shivering? Yeah, that’s me.
So I am forever looking for variations on sweaters, jackets and other outerwear, because being as cold natured as I am, I don’t always take my jacket off once I get indoors. Which means a fleece poncho in a pattern like buffalo check is the perfect blend of cozy and stylish for me. And I added a cowl to keep my neck warm – because once my neck gets cold, I just can’t get warm again.
Supplies to Sew a Poncho
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To make your own poncho with a cowl/hood, you’ll need:
- 2 1/4 yards of 60 inch wide fleece fabric. If you prefer to use a blanket instead of fleece yardage, check the dimensions below.
- Basic sewing supplies – sewing machine, scissors, thread, etc.
- When working with fleece I prefer to use sewing clips (affiliate link) instead of pins. Clips are better able to handle the bulkiness of fleece fabric
- Optional – Electric scissors (affiliate link). While you can 100% cut fleece with regular sewing scissors, I prefer the electric shears since I have them. You can check out my post about whether electric shears are worth it here.
Dimensions for the poncho fabric are below, BUT make sure to cut and measure the neckline BEFORE cutting out the cowl piece.
Note that I am 5’3″ so even if I wear the 60inch side so that it spreads across my arms, it does not extend to my fingertips. The front and back hang down approximately 27 inches from my shoulders. If you are sewing for a taller or smaller person, you might want to adjust these measurements and you may even need to sew a couple of pieces of fleece together to get a larger rectangle. As a rule of thumb, remember that a person’s height is roughly equal to their measurement from fingertip to fingertip.
I’ve got a video tutorial right below on how to make this poncho; if it doesn’t load for some reason you can also watch it here. Skip over the video to the written tutorial if you prefer that.
How to Make a DIY Fleece Poncho
OK, so in case you’re more of a written tutorial than a video watching kind of person, here are the written instructions.
First, fold the poncho fabric in half along the 60″ width. Then fold it in half along the 54″ width, so you’ve got it folded in quarters.
At the folded corner where there are no raw edges showing (which is the center of the poncho) measure over 4 inches and down 2 inches. Cut in a curved line to connect these two points and create the neck opening.
Measure one side of the neckline 1/2 inch in from the edge (dotted line below). Next, double that number to get the full neckline length. Also make sure that width is enough to fit over your head! You can always trim the opening to make it a little larger if it’s not.
Make sure that your cowl piece is as wide as the neckline measurement plus one inch and 22 inches tall.
Fold the cowl in half, right sides together, matching the 22 inch edges, and stitch along the 22 inch edge. Since most fleece stretches, use a zig zag stitch or other stretch stitch.
Mark quarter points around the cowl (I use pins or clips to mark). Then mark quarter points of the poncho neckline. Open cowl. With the cowl right side out and the poncho wrong side out, stick the cowl through neckline opening so it is inside the poncho and the fabrics are right sides together. Match cowl quarter points to the quarter points of the poncho neckline. Pin cowl in place and stitch with a stretch stitch.
When you pull the cowl back out, it will look like the image below, extending up from the neckline like a very long turtleneck.
Because fleece does not fray, there is no need to finish edges.
Wearing Cowl Neck Fleece Ponchos
Just pop your poncho over your head, push the cowl down or pull it over your head like a hood, and go!
Sometimes I also like to push fold the sides of the poncho up and under so they’re more like short sleeves.
If you’d prefer not to be pulling polar fleece over your head to get it off and on, you can also check out the tutorial below for a hooded poncho that opens in the front.