The trees are turning here in the Pacific Northwest, and although we’re well known for our stately evergreens, there are all kinds of amazing gold, red, and brown leaves swirling in the wind right now. We were inspired by these gorgeous fall tones when designing our Color Block Poncho. Made entirely from soft, smooth flannel, it has the weight and drape of wool but without any of the scratchiness, so it’s perfect to wear around your face and neck. We selected seven amazing herringbone colors from the Woolies Flannel collection at Fabric Depot.
Even if you’re new to sewing, you can easily create this wonderful wrap. The patchwork is made up of four simple quadrants, which are then sewn together horizontally and vertically to create one big rectangle. From this, you’ll use our templates to round the corners and cut the neck opening. There’s a free PDF download below with all the pattern pieces.
All of our fabric choices are listed and linked below, but these are just a fraction of the Woolies Flannel collection available. Use our design or build your palette. We do recommend staying with a subtle motif, like the herringbone, in order to maintain the drama of the large, intersecting blocks of color.
The exterior of the poncho features the color blocking, the interior is one solid color, and between these two layers is another secret interlining flannel. With three layers of this substantial flannel, the weight and drape are excellent. You’ll stay nice and toasty when you’re out amongst the swirling leaves.
In fact, we gave the wrap a good ol’ Northwest test of weather resistance. The day of our photoshoot was a classic Fall blend of rain and sun and wind. The model made it through thanks to the toasty poncho, which she was ready to keep wearing for the rest of the afternoon!
Around the entire outside edge of the finished poncho is a beautiful blanket stitch. For the best, bold look, this should be done by hand with floss. We give you all the steps below, including how to create a nearly invisible stop/start point when it’s time to re-thread.
Wear it as a simple shawl, toss one side over your shoulder, or try adding a belt for a whole new look – flannel is soft enough to cinch around the middle without a lot of bulk.
Bundle up yourself or give a special someone on your list the gift of warmth this season. Sizing is shown below in the diagrams.
Sewing Tools You Need
- Sewing Machine and standard presser foot
- Walking or Even Feed foot; we used the built-in Janome AcuFeed Flex™ Fabric Feeding System
Fabric and Other Supplies
NOTE: Flannel usually has about a 4% shrinkage; our yardage recommendations below take this into account. Throughout our instructions, we will refer to our fabrics by their alpha-numeric code (N2, G, etc.). The illustration below shows the finished measurements and gives you a color key for our specific Woolies Herringbone selections.
- All SEVEN of our main fabric selections are herringbone prints from the Woolies Flannel collection by Maywood Studio. The fabrics in this collection have a width of 42/43”. Refer to the color key above as a guide.
- ½ yard: N2 – Heather Blue Herringbone
- ½ yard: G – Olive Green Herringbone
- ¾ yard: E – Warm Gold Herringbone
- 1¼ yards: R2 – Brick Red Herringbone
- 1¼ yards: V – Dusty Periwinkle Herringbone
- 1 yard: K4 – Rich Black Herringbone
- For the solid inside panels: 3¾ yards: A – Brown Stitched Herringbone
- For the interlining hidden between the Woolies, 2 YARDS of a 60”+ wide flannel is required
- THREE skeins of twisted embroidery floss for the perimeter blanket stitch; we used a dark olive
- All purpose thread to best blend with all the fabric for assembly and quilting; we used deep brown
- See-through ruler
- Measuring tape
- Fabric pen or pencil
- Seam gauge
- Seam ripper
- Rotary cutter and mat
- Iron and ironing board
- Yarn darners for hand stitching around the edges
- Straight pins
- Large, curved safety pins for pin basting
- As mentioned above, flannel does shrink, so make sure you pre-wash and dry all the fabric before beginning any cutting or assembly.
- Once washed and dried, iron each piece and remove lint. Flannel loves to shed; you will need to remove lint. Also remember to clean out the lint trap in your dryer.
- We also recommend labeling each fabric to more easily keep track of the color-blocking as you assemble.
- Download and print out the Poncho Neck Cutaway pattern and the Rounded Corner Template. The Neck Cutaway pattern is four pages and the corner template is one additional page. These five pages have been bundled into one Poncho Patterns PDF to make the download easier.
IMPORTANT: Each of the five pages is ONE 8½” x 11″ sheet. You must print the PDF file at 100%. DO NOT SCALE to fit the page.
- Cut out all the pieces along their solid outer line.
- Using the arrows printed on each section of the Neck Cutaway, assemble the four sections to create the final length. Butt together the sections and tape in place; do not overlap.
- After the recommended washing and drying the edges of your yardage will be ragged.
- Use a cutting mat and rotary cutter to trim and square the ends of each fabric.
- Cut the herringbone color blocks as follows. All cuts are listed as width x height; the herringbone pattern should run vertically on all pieces. Don’t forget to keep those labels intact.
THREE at 9” x 11”
TWO at 17” x 11”
ONE at 17” x 21”
ONE at 9” x 21”
ONE at 17” x 21”
ONE at 25” x 11”
ONE at 9” x 31”
ONE at 9” x 21”
ONE at 9” x 11”
ONE at 17” x 11”
ONE at 17” x 11”
ONE at 17” x 31”
- A (the inside of the poncho):
TWO at 25” x 61”
- Cut the interlining into ONE 50” x 63” rectangle. Width and height doesn’t really matter with this layer.
- Once all your pieces are cut, arrange the front pieces, following our diagram. We used the dining room table in order to get all the pieces to fit. A clean floor is another good option.
- The exterior color block pattern is made up of four equal quadrants to make the patchwork easy. The illustration below shows you the dividing lines.
At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board
Color block patchwork
- Work with one quadrant at a time to do your color block patchwork. We started with the lower left quadrant.
- Pin Block V and Block E right sides together, aligning the inner 21” raw edges.
- Pin Block N2 and Block K4 right sides together, aligning the inner 11” raw edges.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch these two seams.
NOTE: All the seam allowances on the poncho are ½” rather than the more traditional ¼” seam for patchwork. However, with the tendency of flannel to ravel, we wanted the additional security of the slightly wider seam.
- Press each seam allowance open and flat.
- Pin the two sewn panels together along the inner horizontal raw edges. Carefully align the vertical seams of the two panels.
- Using a ½” seam allowance stitch all the way across.
- Press open the seam allowance, being careful to flatten the intersection. This finishes this first quadrant.
- Continue in the same manner to complete the remaining three quadrants.
- For the lower right quadrant. First assemble Blocks G and V along their inner 11” edges. Then assemble Blocks V and N2 along their inner 11” edges. Stitch the G/V assembled pair to the top raw edge of Block R2. Stitch the V/N2 assembled pair to the bottom raw edge of Block R2.
- For the upper right quadrant, first assemble Blocks R2 and G along their inner 17” edges. Then stitch the R2/G assembled pair to Block V along the inner 31” edges.
- For the upper left quadrant, first assemble Blocks N2 and E along their inner 9” edges. Then stitch the N2/E assembled pair to Block K4 along the inner 31” edges.
- Stitch together the upper and lower quadrants together along the inner horizontal edges.
- And finally, stitch together to finish along the center vertical seam.
Assemble the inside panels
- Find the two 25” x 61” panels for the inside of the poncho (A – Brown Stitched Herringbone in our sample). Pin the two panels right sides together along the inner 61” edges.
- Stitch together, using a ½” seam allowance, then press the seam allowance open and flat.
Layer with the interlining and quilting
- Still working on your nice, large (and clean) surface. Lay out the interlining panel right side up and flat.
- Place the color block panel on top of the interlining, also right side up. Center the color block panel so there is an even amount of interlining extending beyond the it on all four sides.
- Pin the layers together along the seams with the curved safety pins.
- Attach a Walking or Even Feed foot or engage your machine’s built-in fabric feeding system. We used the built-in Janome AcuFeed™ Flex system throughout the project.
- If necessary, re-thread the machine with thread to best match the majority of the color block panels. We choose a deep brown.
- Stitch “in the ditch” of each seam, removing the pins as you sew.
- This means you are stitching directly on top of each existing seam through both layers.
- The thread will disappear into the nap of the flannel.
- The two layers of fabric stick together just like a flannel board, so it isn’t necessary to stitch the layers together along the outer perimeter. When done with all the ditch quilting, trim the interlining to match the color block panel.
Cut the neckline opening
- Find the assembled Neck Cutaway pattern.
- Fold it half lengthwise.
- Align the folded center edge of the pattern with the main vertical seam line of the color block panel.
- The bottom of the pattern should be flush with the bottom raw edge of the fabric panel. The top will extend just above the panel’s main horizontal seam. Pin along one side…
- …then flatten and pin the opposite side. Make sure the pattern is perfectly straight along the vertical seam from top to bottom.
- Cut out the pattern. This center section can go in your scrap stash or it could make a cute child’s scarf.
Final layering, corner rounding, and stitching
- Place the assembled inside panel right side up and flat on your work surface.
- Place the color block panel right side down on top of the inside panel. Align the center vertical lines of each of the layers. Pin in place first around the neckline opening.
- Smooth out the layers and pin around the perimeter.
- Find the Rounded Corner template. Place the template at the bottom left of the neckline opening.
- Cut around the curve and continue right up into the neckline opening. You are cutting away the inside layer to match the front. Make sure you maintain a smooth curve from the bottom edge up into the opening.
- Switch the template to the bottom left of the neckline opening to finish trimming the opposite side of the opening, curving down and around the corner template.
- Remove the center section.
- Pin the template at each of the four outer corners and cut the curve through all the layers.
- Make sure all your edges are still securely pinned.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch around the entire outer edge of the poncho, leaving an approximately 10” opening along one straight side for turning.
- Trim the seam allowances at the outer corners to ¼”.
- Trim the upper neckline curve to ¼” and generously clip the curve.
- Turn the poncho right side out through the opening along the one side. Using a long, blunt tool, such as a knitting needle, chopstick or point turner, gently smooth and round all the curves.
- Press flat.
- Press in the raw edges of the opening so they are flush with the sewn seam.
Blanket stitch edging
- You’ll use a doubled strand of floss to create a blanket stitch edging for the poncho. The floss can be cut into 60″ lengths, threaded through the yarn needle, and then doubled and knotted. This is a longer length than you might be used to working with, but we had no issues with tangling and the extra length minimizes the number of times the thread has to be joined.
- Since the outer edge of the poncho is quite long, it would be quite time-consuming to mark for the evenly spaced stitching. If you’re a hand embroidery pro, no worries. You can probably “eyeball” the proper spacing. We like the “ruler finger” technique to keep the stitches evenly spaced. Draw marks right on your thumb, then simply slide your thumb along to maintain the proper spacing. Our spacing was about 5/16″ apart and 5/16″ deep.
- Start the stitching at the opening along the side. There is no need to hand stitch that opening closed first. The blanket stitch will close it, and the opening makes a perfect place to start since the knotted end of your floss can be hidden inside the open seam.
- Hold the two edges together and start your blanket stitch edge. As you can see in the photo above, you can use a pin to create the proper amount of slack in the first stitch.
- To make a Blanket Stitch, hold the loose yarn to the right of the stitch. Move over your designated amount (5/16” in our sample) and take a second stitch, coming up within the loose loop of the yarn. Pull the yarn to tighten the stitch. Hold the stitch tight with your free hand and make another stitch.
- As you are starting to run out of floss, make a final stitch when there is about 6″ of floss left in the needle. Bring the needle from back to front as though you are making another stitch. Place a straight pin through the seam to create the slack needed for the next stitch.
- Pull the thread through.
- Remove the pin. Slide the needle into the fabric at the base of the last stitch taken. Make sure the needle is sliding between the layers. The point of the needle should exit at the line of stitching between the two layers.
- Pull the thread through. The thread might “pop” through the fabric, but if there is a small stitch on the surface of the fabric, no worries; it will be hidden behind the next stitch.
- Take a small stitch right in the seam.
- Slide the needle back in at the seam line, feeding it between the layers and coming out about 1” from the seam.
- Pull the needle through, and holding it taut, trim the thread close to the fabric. When you make the cut, the thread tails will snap back and disappear between the layers.
- Thread the needle with the next length of floss, doubling as above and knotting together the tails. To re-start, insert the needle between the layers at the seam, right next to the tie-off stitch of the previous thread.
- The needle should exit with the same width and depth (5/16” in our sample) so it matches the previous stitching. Pull the knot up against the seam. Trim the tails, but leave the knot intact.
- The last step is to catch the top of the previous stitch to begin your new run of blanket stitching. This will also bury and hide the knot.
- Here is a back view of the “catch” that prepares you to move along.
- Continue the blanket stitch around the outer edge of the poncho until you reach your starting stitch. Catch the beginning stitch and bury the thread in the layers of the seam, following the same method as stopping and starting a length of floss. Your result will be a perfect continuous line of blanket stitching.
Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Michele Mishler