Sewing Ponchos and Capes: Easy-to-Sew Spring Wrap Projects for Beginners

Did the groundhog see his shadow on February 2nd? In any case, ponchos and short capes provide enough warmth for late winter and early spring. Ponchos differ slightly from capes in some respects. Both are unfitted, sleeveless, and easy to sew.

All of the major pattern companies (Butterick, Simplicity, etc.) have suitable spring patterns for capes and ponchos.

In some cases, the pattern designers have blurred the traditional lines between these two garments. The resulting patterns offer so many innovative features that some labeled as ponchos actually resemble capes. In the end, these distinctions don’t matter so long as you choose a pattern that suits your needs.


A traditional poncho is simple to make. Basically, it looks like a blanket with an opening in the middle for the head. It is usually worn so that the points fall at the center back, center front, and the two sides.

Compared to a cape, this looks much more casual. You can dress it up by adding fringe or other trim.


Though there are decorative capes that are worn as formal wear or costumes, this article deals exclusively with those used for warmth.

A cape is a sleeveless outer garment that fits closely at the neck and drapes loosely over the shoulders. To provide maximum warmth, the front opening should have buttons or other closures.

The length of a cape can vary greatly. From late winter into spring, one that falls slightly below the hips should be sufficient. An unlined cape should work just fine for the next couple of months.

Fabrics for Ponchos and Capes

Choose warm fabrics for late winter/early spring. At this time of year you can often find materials at bargain prices. A lot of fabric stores want to get rid of their winter merchandise.

Fleece would work particularly well for ponchos and capes. So would corduroy and velveteen. Depending on your budget, other possibilities include synthetic suede, lightweight wool, and wool blends. Fabrics with obvious diagonals are unsuitable for these wraps.

Stripes or plaids will require extra fabric. Check the charts printed on your cape or poncho pattern.

If you have the time, you could easily make a crazy quilt cape or poncho by using scraps left over from other sewing projects. For this particular project, you would need a foundation fabric, such as muslin, on which to sew the scraps. When planning a crazy quilt poncho or cape, select materials with similar care instructions.

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