My First Poncho

I always thought the Alabama Chanin poncho looked a bit impractical. The first time I seriously considered wanting one was when I was at the weekend workshop three years ago and one of our fellow stitchers, Jackie, was wearing her poncho as an asymmetrical skirt. Now here was an interesting idea.  In fact, my sister Cindi ended up making a poncho from the yard of preprinted fabric she bought while we were at the factory (silver Medium New Leaves printed on Natural by Spoonflower) . Here is a picture of her wearing her poncho both ways.

She doesn’t wear her poncho often so I was still reluctant but a few months ago one of my favorite stitching friends, Maria, made this beauty.

She mentions that she wears it all the time, especially when she’s studying in the library, and that she loves it.


When I saw this picture it put me over the edge. Time to make a poncho. (The kit for this poncho is currently available on the Alabama Chanin website here)

I followed the instructions on page 64 of Alabama Studio Sewing Patterns cutting a piece of fabric 24” x 54”. The trick with that is you want your grain line to run along the 54” length so you have to use two yards of fabric, Parchment in my case. So what to do with that leftover yardage – make a fitted T-shirt of course.


I was lucky enough that my friend, Maggie, lent me her Abstract stencil. Man it’s good to have stitching friends!


I was trying out a new airbrush nozzle when I was spraying on my white paint and I was having a really hard time getting the paint to come out. Not sure if it is the nozzle or if my paint has been in the garage too long. I made sure to get all the edges on the T-shirt since it was going to be reverse appliqué and the painted area would be cut away, but, the poncho was going to be negative reverse so I really was hoping for better coverage. After a while, I gave up and my sons told me it looks more “organic” the way it is.

I only sprayed a 12” x 24” piece of verdant fabric for the poncho. Stencil placement with the abstract is a little challenging. The poncho wasn’t bad only I didn’t want to follow the DIY kit exactly so I was super aware of how best to fit great shapes on such a small piece of fabric and to have no shapes overlap the edge. Actually, I think the abstract stencil is great for that purpose because of all the straight lines.


The T-shirt was a little trickier because there are a lot of shapes on the stencil that you don’t want landing on the chest region. When all was said and done, I think I did a good job this time.


I did start to worry once I cut out my shapes because the back started looking like it was going to be just a little bit off center (my vertical lines weren’t going to be exactly vertical) but as with most DIY garments, I little “off” just adds character.

Wow the abstract stencil stitches up quick, especially since I just used a running stitch for both garments. It was done in a matter of days.


I knew I wanted to use the sage button craft thread for the T-shirt but I wasn’t quite sure for the poncho. I decided to go with sage for the embellishment and dogwood for the construction. Because the design is so striking I didn’t want anything to distract from it.

I adjusted the T-shirt neckline down a little. I’ve always needed a little breathing room. I wish I had adjusted the length a little. It’s a bit long and narrow through the hip area. I’m thinking of either opening the bottom inch and a half of the seams up to give me a little room or even taking an inch off the bottom – or maybe even both. The way my placement ended up even if I take off an inch I still won’t run into a shape.

There’s an inch here I can cut off to shorten

I used the cretan stitch around the neck binding. I still need to mark out my cretan everytime. I learned the hard way to mark it before you pin it in place. I wavered between doing a cap sleeve or sleeveless but decided to go sans sleeve. Easier for layering and for hot flashes!!


Once I worked up the shirt and the poncho, I still had a yard of verdant fabric left over so I decided to whip up a single layer swing skirt to wear with them.

I think my sister may want to steal this skirt because it looks really good with the Cap Sleeve T-shirt she just made (Forest over Verdant with the Aurora stencil)


Then, to complete the outfit, and because I have a thing for footwear, I ordered these fun little booties from Everlane. These glove boots are awesome for so many reasons: they fit over my bunion, they are extremely comfortable and THEY ARE MADE FROM 9 RECYCLED PLASTIC BOTTLES.


So, here’s me playing with my new outfit. And then getting a little crazy and just starting to layer things on. (Please forgive my messy closet)!

Headed out to a work meeting
Over a Natural rib skirt and single layer tank top


I love how Natalie layers her pieces. I’m not sure I would ever wear this outfit but I like to experiment!

Then came the true test this past weekend. It finally cooled down enough here in Virginia to be able to wear the poncho. Here I am getting ready to go walk the dog. Turns out it was functional enough that I could bend down and pick up (stinky) things.


Then I wore it to the swim meet. It rode up quite a bit while I was driving but it didn’t restrict any movement like I was worried it would. And then once I got to the hot pool, it was easy to pop off. I think I’m going to get a lot more use out of it that I would have guessed.

I’ll definitely make another. I just saw a new TSOM kit the other day that was black on black, silver painted Magdalena that looked smashing.

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In case you want more poncho ideas, check out my poncho Pinterest page.

I am broad shouldered so I may have to size up. Maria and I were just having this discussion the other day. When you size up can you just add inches to the length or do you need to increase the ratio all the way around? If any of you have the answer or any tips in that regard, send them my way!