Jun 16, 2011

Toddler Beach Towel Poncho

My kids love to swim but they don't love getting out of the water and feeling cold.  I wanted to create a towel that would be great for my little swimmers that would easily stay on them, help them get dry and keep them warm.  This tutorial in particular is to make a towel poncho for a small toddler (my little pumpkin is about a year and a half).  If you wanted to make a similar thing for an older child you would need to start for sure with a bigger towel, or sew on additional material to a towel this size in order to make it fit.  This towel would be too small for my 3 year old.
Okay, lets begin.
1 bath towel 53 1/2 x 29" (isn't that a random towel size?)  This is your standard bath towel
1 hand towel 15 x 24
5- 2"x 72" strips of fabric
1- 2" piece of 1/8" elastic
1 button
1. Begin by laying the large bath towel out flat and cutting off a 5 1/2" strip from one end.  I cut right along one of the patterned lines on my towel.
2. Next take the edge that you just cut and fold it over on the towel like this to form a triangle (when you cut this it will form a perfect square).
3. Cut along the side of your towel that is adjacent to the remainder of the towel to get a big triangle.  When you open it up you should have your square.
4. Now you are going to bind each of the towel edges.  I did a super easy (could be considered cheaters) method.  I am not a fan of sewing with bias tape, nor did I have enough fabric to create my own bias fabric strips so I decided to just use regular fabric strips and sandwich each of my towel edges between one (so you would see an inch of fabric on each side).

5.  Then I sewed a 1/2" seam down each strip.  I cut the fabric towards the seam on each strip after (in about 1/2" increments).  Once this is washed it will fray.  I like the look-plus it is simple and easy.  I think binding each edge neater with bias binding would look fantastic.  So you have two options.
On the corners I just left the ends of each strip raw (I didn't fold anything under).
6. Now we will sew the hood.  Begin by cutting your hand towel down to 22 x 9 1/4".
7.  Sew a strip of fabric along one long edge.  I used the same method that I did on the large square.
8. Fold the towel in half (right sides together if you have a right side) the width way.  Pin the opposite side of the one with the binding.  Stitch a 1/4" seam along that whole edge.
When you turn it right side out you will have a cute pointy hood.
Back view.
9. Next to be able to attach the hood and make an opening for a cute little head you will need to fold your large square piece to form first a large triangle (so fold it corner to corner), then in half again to form a smaller triangle. (this picture shows it open so that you can see that I folded twice).
Here it is closed.
10.  Find the center point (so if you opened your triangle up, the center point would be in the top middle).  Measure about 10" one way and mark with a pin (make sure you are staying on the center fold as you measure, don't measure down the side.  The center fold is the part that will slip over your kids head and rest on his or her shoulders.  I so wish I was a mathematician because I am sure there is some sort of mathematical way to explain this).  Flip the whole triangle piece over and mark 10" out from the center point on the other side.
11.  Using a sharp pair of scissors, poke one point in at the center and cut along one side to the pin.  Then repeat on the other side.  On one side (not both) cut an extra 2-3 inches.  This is going to ensure that the hole will fit any size of head.
This will leave you with a large opening in the center of the towel.
12.  Bind the edge in the same manner that you did the sides.

13.  Now you will adjust the hood so that it will fit with your opening.  To do this I made a series of pleats.
14.  The pleats are simply made by pinching the fabric
and then folding it down to one side.  Keep all your pleats going the same direction.  I have mine going out from the center.  Start on the outside edge first and then work towards the middle.  You could make a few large pleats, or many smaller ones.  Pin each pleat and then measure it against your opening to make sure it fits. You want it to fit the 20" opening-not including the extra 2 inches on one side.
15. To pin it on, lay the hood with the right side (which is the outside) of the hood (the back center seam) on the back side of the towel, about a 1/2 inch down from the opening edge.  Match the edges of the hood to the size of the opening.  It should be 20".  Pin in place.  There should be 2-3 extra inches on one side.  Sew along the edge of the hood.  After you have done that, pull the hood up, pressing the opening edge of the towel up over the bottom of the hood.  Pin in place and sew again along the edge of the opening piece.  This will cover up the raw and unfinished edge of the hood.
16. Lastly I added a button on the front side of the towel (I placed it where the 20" end and the extra 2-3" begins (see second pic below to clarify).  On the opposite side (which is the back side of the towel) I sewed a small loop with the piece of elastic.  This will help hold the towel on a little body after they have put it on.
And now for my adorable model.

Happy sewing and swimming everyone.

Creative Itch
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  1. Thanks so much for sharing this tutorial! This would be cute for a girl or a boy! I'd love to make one for my son...that's after I get my curtains done! I featured this on my friday favorites!


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