Sewing - Poncho

Designed without arm holes, and thus more of a cape than poncho. Problem with arm holes is that they allow lower part of arms to get wet, and they allow rain to blow in and wet the torso, especially when poncho is worn over a backpack. Also, even with arm holes, a poncho is cumbersome and interferes with movement, especially when leaning forwards. One solution is to tie a belt around the waist, to keep the poncho from billowing and getting in the way, but this is still cumbersome and additionally makes it more difficult to get in and out of the poncho. My solution is to simply roll the poncho up at the front and hook it into place (using a cord with mitten hook on the end, attached to the inside front of the hood) when I want my hands free, or when the rain is reduced to a very light drizzle and I want more ventilation. When the poncho front is rolled down, I simply grab hold of the bottom hem of the poncho to keep it from blowing in the wind or interfering with my hiking stick, while still keeping my hands protected. The lack of arm-holes makes it particularly easy to get in and out when wearing a backpack.

Hood opening is shifted forwards so that the poncho is longer in back than front, thus providing adequate coverage (just above the knees) for man 180cm tall carrying medium-sized backpack. When worn without backpack, poncho will reach just below knees.

I normally wear the poncho with a wide-brim fur felt hat, which provides sufficient protection from light rain that the hood can be folded up (after snugging the neck cord tight) to allow ventilation of the neck area. In heavy rain or when it is cold, I pull the hood up and hold it in place under my wide-brim hat. The cord with mitten hook can be pulled through the hood opening and attached to the chinstrap of the hat, to keep the hat from blowing away in strong winds.

It can be difficult to put the poncho on in windy conditions while wearing a backpack. A hiking stick can be used to push the back of the poncho over the backpack. Use the handle of the stick rather than the sharp tip to do this.

Poncho can be hung from ridge-line of tarp, to protect from rain blowing in the front of the tarp.

Stuff sack is sewed to inside seam of poncho, so as to be always available.

Weighs about 170 grams when made of 1.4 oz/sqyd silnylon.


Critical dimension is where the hood connects to the front body. The hood pieces are sewed together with a .5cm flat-felled seam in the back, and an 1.5cm overlapped seam in the front. In both cases, there are 4 layers of fabric, so that a total of (.5 + 1.5) * 3 = 6cm is removed by these seams. The hood will thus be about 78cm in circumference. The hood opening should be about 4cm less than this, or 74cm. The reasoning is that the .5cm flat-felled seam between hood and body will expand the hood opening by about 1cm of diameter, and circumference of a circle (which the hood opening approximates) expands by the ratio of pi (3.14) times the increase in diameter, or about 3.14 cm. Round up to 4cm to account for stretching.

poncho pattern