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The rainy season has hit the Pacific Northwest with a vengeance! This Wheelchair Rain Poncho is just the answer to keep kids and their wheelchairs dry as they brave the rain squalls. It can be made with a polar fleece lining if you deal with snow or cold temperatures where you live.
|For this sample, I used “utility cloth” from Joann Fabrics sold for making |
waterproof diaper covers. It’s very soft and drapes well.
Here is one made from nylon. Notice how the back
can also be tucked in without interfering with sitting.
This hooded rain poncho is one-size-fits-most-kids. Feel free to adjust the measurements to fit your wheelchair user.
Features that make this poncho handy are:
• a waterproof outer fabric to keep rain off and fabric choices to make the inside varying levels of cozy-warm;
• corner tucks that keep the poncho snuggled around the knees for a drier, warmer lap;
• the ability to fold completely flat for storing in a backpack;
• a shortened back length. It’s long enough to keep the wearer’s back dry, along with any tote bags hanging off the back of the wheelchair, but short enough not to interfere with push handles (a longer-backed variation is described at the end). It can also tuck between the wearer's back and the seat without interfering with sitting;
• simple sewing.
Please note that this pattern is for personal use only. Thanks!
• 1 5/8 yd 58-60” wide waterproof outerwear fabric (slicker vinyl, oilcloth, waterproofed nylon, “utility fabric” or other)
• 2 ½ yd 42-44” wide flannel (be safe and buy 2 5/8 yards to allow for shrinkage)
-- OR – 1 5/8 yd 60” fleece for warmer poncho (note: if using fleece, the extra bulk may require you to sew slightly deeper seam allowances. If you own a serger, this is a great time to use it, as serging nicely compresses the bulky seam allowances of fleece)
• 2 large snaps (use the prong type rather than sew-in. Attach using whatever method you prefer; I like a hammer and a wooden spool)
• Thread to match
• TEST YOUR PRESSER FOOT on the selvage edge of your outdoor fabric to see if you might need a Teflon or roller foot to keep the waterproof fabric from sticking…or use this clever masking tape trick
• Pattern for hood and neck template. When printing both files, select PAGE SCALING > NONE. The pages of the hood overlap so you can line them up correctly. The taped paper will measure 15.25 x 18.5” before you cut out the pattern piece.
Prepare fabric and cut pieces
1) Prewash flannel. The outerwear fabric or polyester polar fleece does not need prewashing.
2) Cut the outer fabric to 45” x 60” (it’s okay to fudge a bit on this, so don’t sweat it if straightening the edges makes your fabric a titch smaller). Trace around a dinner plate (mine is 10.5” across) to round the corners; cut off excess. Use the trimmed outer fabric as the pattern for cutting the lining fabric to match.
3) If your lining is flannel, you will need to seam two 1 ¼ yd lengths together along the selvage edge. First cut off the selvages and then stitch the two lengths with a ¼” seam. Press the seam open and topstitch down each side of the seam to hold the allowances flat.
|The underside of the seam after it has been pressed open |
and topstitched from the top side.
Lay the outer fabric on this, aligning one short end of the outer fabric close to one of the selvage ends and leaving room to cut the hood pieces from the other.
4) Cut 2 hood pieces from outer fabric and lining fabric. Mark notches with a 1/8” snip. [Note: the neck opening accommodates a head size up to 23". If your child will need a larger neck opening, taper the back neck seam out from the curve to the neck edge. Increase the neck opening by tracing around an 8 1/2” salad plate instead of the printable template].
Sew body of poncho
Note: Any time you sew two unlike fabrics together, it is especially important to practice on scraps. You need to work out the best combination to encourage your particular fabrics to cooperate. For example, I found my pair for the tutorial—a plastic-coated knit “utility fabric” and cotton flannel—worked best if I sewed with the flannel on top, pinning inside the seam allowances (and I rarely use pins). Your mileage may vary…test, test, test!
|Practice with scraps cut from the fabrics as you squared up |
your rectangles or cut out the hood pieces.
1) Pin layers right side together, running pins parallel to the cut edges and within ¼” of them.
Using a long stitch length, stitch both layers, right sides together, with a 1/4” seam. Leave an 8” opening on one short end for turning the layers right sides out. This will become the back edge. Be sure to backstitch at both ends of the opening.
2) Clip seam allowance at corners if necessary. Turn the poncho right sides out through the opening. Use your fingernail to crease the seam allowance at the opening to the inside.
3) Topstitch a scant ¼” in around the entire outer edge.
1) Sew left and right outer hood pieces right sides together. Use your thumbnail to press both seam allowances to one side. Repeat for the lining, but press seam allowances in the opposite each other (note: fleece will be bulky. You will need to cut down one of the seam allowances to reduce that bulk).
2) Meet hood and lining right sides together. The center seams should lock together where they meet because the seam allowances have been pressed in opposite directions. Sew around face opening with a 1/4” seam, turn right sides out, and topstitch.
3) Baste neck edge together a scant ¼” from the edge, wrong sides together, matching notches and using long stitches.
1) Fold poncho skirt lengthwise and mark the center line on the lining with disappearing markings. Measure 12” from the back edge and place the edge of the neck template pattern on this mark, centering it over the center line. Trace around the pattern, marking notches. Pin the layers together with pins IN THE CENTER of the circle you have made.
|Notice the teeny white dots inside the soap-marked circle--these are the pin heads. |
Pinning inside the circle keeps pin holes to a minimum, preventing leaks.
The soap sliver used to mark the fabric is highlighted with a red arrow.
Sew right on the traced circle with basting stitches. Cut out the inside of the circle, leaving a ¼” seam allowance inside your stitching (see the pattern if you are not sure where to trim). Clip notches 1/8” deep into the seam allowance.
2) Match center back of hood with center back marking on poncho, right sides together. Carefully pin hood inside seam allowance from the center back to the front matching clip at center front. Front edges should overlap about 1” at the center front. Stitch all the way around the neck edge using a ¼” seam allowance, stitching just outside the basting stitches.
|Pin holes allow water to penetrate, so any pinning must be done |
inside the seam allowances with pins running parallel to the edge.
3) Press all seam allowances out from the neck edge, using your thumbnail. Topstitch through all layers 1/8” from seam to secure seam allowances.
| For easiest, flattest, most accurate topstitching around the neck, |
sew from the right side, checking underneath the seam often
to make sure it is catching under the needle.
Sew with the curve rather than stretching the seam straight.
Carefully trim any excess seam allowance next to the stitching, being careful not to nick the lining.
1) The placement of snaps in the front corners of the poncho skirt gives you a custom fit that keeps the poncho in place around the legs. Measure across the front of the wheelchair’s leg supports and add 6-8” to that measurement for ease.
Mark half this measurement from the center fold, 2" up from the hem. Then fold the corner diagonally (along the red line in the diagram) to determine where the other half of the snap will be placed.
You might want to use office clips for a trial fit, and then mark the snap placement with a grease pencil on oilcloth/vinyl.
2) Attach the snaps 2” in from the hem edge at the place along the corner that makes the poncho fit your child’s lap. Important--be sure the working parts of the snap face out!
|Notice how the ball and socket face away from the outer fabric.|
When you snap the parts together, this forms a tuck behind the snap that creates the corner.
|Create a tuck under the snap to make the corner that keeps the poncho snug against the lap.|
If your child uses an extra tall headrest or wants more back protection for a motorized wheelchair, go ahead and add extra length to the back. You’ll need an extra 1 ¼ yard each of the outer fabric and flannel (or fleece) lining. Sewing the extra length to the back 12” down from the neck opening should put the seam where it is unlikely to get doused with the hardest rain.
That’s it! Now your child is ready to head out into the rain (or snow!). I'd love to hear how your poncho-sewing experience goes. Let me know if you have any questions.
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If this tutorial was helpful, you might also want to check out
Split-back Wheelchair Jacket