Poolside Poncho {sewing tutorial}


I can’t tell you how many hours I’ve spent by the poolside this month. Brilliant mathematicians  couldn’t calculate the number if they tried. We get up, eat breakfast, do chores, and then swim. Then we have lunch, read books, and swim again. Repeat the next day and the next. I love it, and so do the kids!

For all those times by the pool, I made Abby a little poncho to keep her warm while we’re taking a break or eating snacks. She gets the chills easily, and wearing this poncho will definitely help on evenings at the beach when the temperature suddenly drops but we are all still in swim suits. I’m working on an adult-sized tutorial right now, and will hopefully have that for you next week. In the meantime, scroll down for sewing instructions for the child-size poncho! (Hint: there is only ONE seam and then a couple of hems. SO EASY).

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Materials Needed:

  • one half yard of knit material (I used a sweater knit from Michael Levine in the LA fabric district. Link is to their online store).
  • polyester thread in a matching or coordinating color
  • pins, sewing machine, iron and ironing board
  • cutting mat and rotary cutter (or fabric sheers)
  • a t-shirt that fits your child

Prepare the fabric by washing and drying, then remove the selvage edges. My fabric kept curling up on me, especially since its just 1/2 yard. This part of the process requires some patience, but straight lines are important so don’t rush it!

DSC08857Next, fold the fabric over and make a cut so that the width from cut edge to folded edge is 20″ (this means the total length of the fabric will be 40″). This length will fit a child from ages 4 to 6 (approximately). You can easily make a smaller or larger size by altering the measurements in this tutorial. 


Now trim the height of the fabric to 20″.

You should now have a piece of fabric that measures 40″ long by 20″ high. Folded in half, the square will be 20″ by 20″.


Now measure the neckline of your child’s t-shirt. My measurement for a size 4 t-shirt was 6″ (notice that I measured from the start of one shoulder to the other, not the neck opening. I wanted the poncho to be relaxed and not at all tight around her neck).


In the upper corner, with the fold to the right, cut a diagonal line equal to the measurement from the t-shirt. I measured 6″ across and made sure the diagonal was equal.
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Open up your fabric and you will see a “V” cut into the top.


Turn the fabric over so that the wrong side is facing up. Roll the raw edges under once by 1/4″ and then again by another 1/4″. This will fully encase the raw edge and enforce the neckline. Pin it in place.


At the sewing machine, stitch the seam in place with a zigzag stitch. I used a long stitch with a width of 2.0 and a length of 4.0. Test your settings on a scrap piece of the same material before you sew the neckline. I sewed two lines of stitching in my neckline because I thought it provided a nice finish, and will hold up better over time. You can’t see the stitches very well because my thread matches so well, but there are two lines of zigzag there:


Press the seam on the neckline and then fold the poncho over with RST (right sides together). Align the top raw edge and pin well (every inch or so).


Sew this seam with another zigzag stitch. This time I used a width of 1.5 and a length of 4.0. The settings you use are up to you, but it’s best to use a long stitch length with a narrow zigzag. This seam will provide stretch without looking wobbly.


To finish the raw edges, sew over them with a tiny zig zag stitch a couple of times. This step is optional, since knit does not fray, but it’s a nice touch and will ensure that the seam stays secure over time.


It’s coming together!


To finish the bottom edge, fold the bottom corner under by about 3/4 of an inch and pin in place.


Starting on the right, roll the raw edge under twice like you did for the neckline.


Continue this all the way around the bottom edge, pinning the hem as you go. Sew it in place with the same two rows of zigzag that you used for the neckline, and you’re done!




Now, don’t you just want one for yourself? Me, too! I’ll work on the measurements for an adult version and get back to you next week. In the meantime, go sew some child ponchos and please share this tutorial with friends! Thank you so much for reading. Happy Sewing!
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  1. says

    Can I please come and live with you? I want to have perfect weather and days at the pool all the time, too 😉
    Love the poncho!