Hey all! Most of you know that I live in Wisconsin, and it’s defiantly gotten colder around here lately. And if you know me, you probably know that I’m a carseat fanatic…you can roll your eyes if you want but I don’t care, I practice up to date carseat safety rules. So with all that in mind, I decided to make my daughter a fleece poncho to wear when it’s cold outside, so we don’t have to deal with taking coats on and off when going into the carseat. I read through a bunch of tutorials online and most of them involved sewing, which I am not good at. I did find one that was fully no-sew but it involved lots of knots which I feel are going to become fun to untie while sitting in the car. So I used her same ideas but created my own by braiding the fleece rather then knotting it. You can find the original tutorial here if you’d like, but I’m going to share how I made mine and I hope you enjoy it!
So first off I bought two types of fleece, one pattern and one solid, you could use whatever type you like but I suggest buying regular anti pill fleece and not the plush stuff because it doesn’t work well for this type of project. I also bought 1 1/2 yards of each fabric so I was sure to have enough. Depending on how big your child is you might be able to get away with one yard of each but I didn’t want to run out since I wanted mine to have a hood.
I started off by aligning my two fabrics back to back so the correct side is facing outward and folding them in half corner to corner, like this:
Then you’ll want to figure out what size you need, I measured my daughter from the top of her shoulders to around her knees (19 inches) so I added 2 inches to that to make up for the braiding and the width of her shoulders, but I wish I’d made it a tad longer, so if I were to make another I would add 4 inches to that measurement. You’ll want to measure from the top of the fold to the bottom point like I did here:
So here I have both of my fabrics laid out together and measured to 21 inches. Now that you have them layered and cut to your measurement you’ll want to unfold it so it is a square, then you want to bring all four corners into the center so you can mark where the middle is
Now you’ll want to measure out making the neck hole, and by reading about others experiences it’ll probably look too small but just remember you can always make this part bigger if needed, but it isn’t possible to make it smaller. I also measures one of my daughters shirts for reference. I made mine 5 inches which worked out well because I was able to stretch it to make it fit right. Whatever your measurement is you’ll want to split it in half and mark it with the center point. I made a box and then marked a few more times to make it more circular
Now you’ll want to cut from the center point to the other points that you made to make slits like this:
Once you have that done you’ll want to cut each “wedge” in half so that you have double the amount of wedges going around your neck hole
Now if you don’t want your poncho to have a hood you can skip ahead to tying and braiding the fabric, but if you want yours to have a hood then set this part aside and find your scrap fabric that you already cut off. You’ll want them layered in the same fashion as above but it will also be folded in half so you’ll be cutting through four layers of fleece
I used my daughter’s jacket to measure the size of the hood and cut it like pictured above, you’ll want to leave about 1 1/2 inches around the edge for the braiding. So this part can become confusing but once you do a few then you’ll have it down no problem. So you start off by cutting slits around the edge of the fabric that are about 1 inch deep by 1 inch wide. Keep in mind you can do deeper or wider depending on the look you’re going for but this is what I did. Also I don’t recommend making them less than an inch wide because then they might rip.
You’ll want to cut through all four pieces of fabric when doing this so that they are all equal around the edge of the hood. Once you have all your tabs cut then you’ll want to put a small hole into each tab. This works best by folding the tab in and cutting through two layers at a time. It’s a little difficult to see in my picture but they are there. Now to start braiding, You’ll want to start at the base of the hood and you’ll work around to the front. So what makes it easy for me is to pretend like you only have two layers: Top and Bottom, both of these layers happen to have two layers of fleece but try to think of them as combined. So to start you want to take the “top” (top two layers) and push the first tab through the hole of the “bottom” (bottom two layers) tab as pictured:
It’s a little difficult to see but now you want to take the “bottom” tab and go through the hole of the “top” of the next tab (moving to the left) then use that “top” to go through the “bottom” and continue that pattern so it will look like this:
If you’re having trouble just remember that the top always goes through the bottom and the bottom always goes through the top. This is easier when you are only working with two layers of fleece that are different because it is easier to keep track but with a little patience it looks great. I also find this youtube video helpful in describing how to braid.
Now once you make it to the front part of the hood you’ll want to change the braiding technique by separating your last braid of all four layers. Take the “top” and start braiding just those two layers together until you reach the bottom of the hood, then you’ll want to repeat with the “bottom”.
Then your hood should look like the last picture. You’ll want to knot off the last tab of each side of the hood so that the braid doesn’t become unraveled. Now we are going to make a few holes around the base of the hood so we can attach it to the poncho. You’re going to want five holes in each half of the hood like this:
Now you’ll want align the hood with the tabs for the neck hole. Make sure you have the poncho folded in half so that the front is by the open part of the hood. You should have 6 tabs that will be the open part, and 10 that will attach the hood. You want to take the first tab to be attached to the hood and take the matching fabrics through the first hole of your hood so that they can be tied inside the hood.
I double knotted them to make sure they wouldn’t come undone. You’ll want to continue doing this for all ten tabs along the hood. It should look like this when you’re done:
Now for the tabs along the open part of the hood. You want to go in between the front two layers of fleece and pull the tabs through
Then you’ll want to double tie them so that the two layers are connected around the neck hole. This is the inside and outside of what it should look like once you’re done.
Now if you weren’t making a hood, this is where you would want to continue off. Lay out the poncho so the neck hole is in the middle and the rest of the fabric is outward making a square shape. You are going to go around the entire edge of the poncho and make tabs just like you did to create the hood, mine were about 1 inch by 1 inch and don’t forget to make the holes in the middle of each tab. It should look like this:
At each corner you’ll want to cut out a small corner so the edges will connect without becoming bulky
Now you can start your braiding at any point in the fabric, by taking the first tab and putting the top through the bottom and then taking the bottom through the top of the tab to the left, and continue braiding like before. If you are having trouble this video helped me: How to braid fleece It should look something like this:
Once you’ve gone around the entire edge you knot your last tabs together so it doesn’t come undone and you should have a finished poncho that looks like this:
Here are a couple of pictures of my daughter modeling hers, in and out of her carseat!
I hope you enjoy your child’s warm and carseat safe poncho! If you have any questions feel free to comment! Share with all your friends!