My son is almost 18 mos, and he wears between a size 18 mos and 24 mos. This poncho tutorial is generous for that size and I'm sure it will still fit him next year since it is down to past his knees. It's fairly easy to adjust for a larger or smaller child. I like longer ponchos for car seat use because it covers their entire legs when they are in the car. (Update: It's 2013 and my son is now four years old and he still wears this same poncho!) You can measure to the ends of their arms, for example, for a shorter poncho.
Step 1: Measure child from their neck to where you want the edge of your poncho to be. Multiply that by 2 and that's how much fabric to buy. If you want a hood on your poncho, it's easiest to add at least a few more inches to your yardage when you buy. I bought 1 1/4 yards of two different pieces of fleece (for the two layers) to make a 23 inch poncho and had enough left to make a hood.
Step 2: You're going to cut your fleece into a circle. The easiest way to do this is to fold both pieces of fleece (separately) edge to edge twice, so you're folding it in quarters. Measure out, from the folded corner, the length from step 1 (from your child's neck to where you want the hem to be). My measurement was 23 inches. Mark your quarter circle out with pins or draw it if you have something that writes on fleece.
Step 3: Making the hood. I had enough fabric left over after cutting the circle to make a hood. To know what size to make, you can measure a hood that you already have, or measure your child's head. The measurement I decided on was 12 inches tall and 10 inches wide. Cut one hood piece from each of your fabrics so the finished hood will have two layers. Since my robot fleece was one-directional, I cut two pieces (10"x12") of robot fleece and sewed the 10 inch sides together with a 1/4 inch seam so the robots would both be upright on each side of the head. The blue fleece only needed one piece that was 10" x 23 1/2".
You need to fold and sew up one of the sides of both hood pieces. If your pieces are 10" x 23 1/2" fold them each in half the short way and sew up one of the 12" sides. Round the corner like this if you don't want a pointy hood.
Turn one hood inside out and place it inside the other hood, right sides together. Line up the edges of the fabric and sew around the front of the hood that would be around your child's face.
Turn the hood right side out through the open neck and top stitch (pictured above) around the face. I pinned before top stitching just to keep the seam as even as I could.
You may want to baste stitch the raw neck edge to make the next step easier.
Now your hood is ready.
Step 4: Making the hole for the hood. Open up your circles 1/2 way and place one inside the other. Mark the center with a pin. Lay out your hood on the edge how you would like it to look (I recommend placing the edges of the hood just a few inches apart) and mark the placement of the edges of the hood on your circle with pins.
Step 5: Adding the hood to the poncho.
Sandwich the raw edges of your hood between the two pieces of fleece all the way around the hole. Fold down the raw fleece edges on the poncho neck as you go around and pin.
Step 6: Making the fringe edge. Sew around your circle two inches from the edge. An easy way to make sure your seam allowance is always two inches is to use masking or other tape and place it at the 2 inch mark on your machine. Keep the edge of your fabric on this mark as you sew.
You're finished, now try it out in the car. Congratulations on making your child safer and warmer!
Some people also like to cut a line straight up the back of the poncho to make it easier to put the child in the car seat. You could use velcro or snaps in the back to keep it closed when not in the car seat. I opted not to for now to keep it really warm since my kid is still rear-facing. The back of the poncho will be able to drape over his car seat. When we turn him around I'll probably cut a slit in the back. You can also experiment with pockets or arm slits.
I'm not the best at taking the right pictures, so feel free to contact me if you have any questions as you go along. If you make one, share a photo on the Pattern Shmattern Flickr group.
***This tutorial is for personal, non-commercial use only. Reproduction is prohibited. Making these ponchos using my pattern or tutorial and selling them is prohibited without written permission from the author.***