DIY Zipper Poncho/Kilt

Maybe it’s the Scottish heritage in me but I love all things plaid. It’s my favorite print and usually what I look for when shopping for fabric this time of year. Our Campbell Clan even has our own tartan print known as the “Campbell plaid” (green plaid with a thin yellow stripe). Every year my Grandma use to make us plaid ponchos for Christmas. I wanted to keep the tradition alive and add a bit of edge by using a Coats 22″ Separating Zipper and asymmetrical center front. This can even be worn as a versatile kilt. Get the details below to make your own for a lovely Autumn look. 


DIY Instructions:

The above template is what I used to create the poncho. You can also use a simple pattern like this one here

You will cut a large strip of fabric. Mine measured 22″ x 56″. I used the selvage edge as my finished edge on the bottom.

Following the pattern template above: draft darts 4″ in length and about 3″ in width. Then draft a slight curve for the center back about 11″ in width (14″ total with the curve). Notice I have one side that is 10″ and the other that is about 32″. This is to create the asymmetrical seam on the poncho. Then cut out the darts and center back.

Sew the darts with 1/4″ seam allowance right sides together. Press seam allowance open or serge.

Finishing the neckline. Cut a strip of 1/2 single fold bias tape measuring 32″. Pin along the right side of the neckline (fold over ends 1/2″). Start at the left side leaving 1/2″ open for seam allowance and sew right sides together sewing just along the first folded edge.

Then flip the bias tape over to the wrong side, press, and sew just along the edge. 

Your poncho will look something like this. Now you have one bottom edge that doesn’t have the selvage. So you can do a few things: 1) finish the edge 2) if you have similar fabric as mine you can fray the edge to match the selvage by pulling out the threads 3) cut additional selvage from extra fabric and sew it along the edge as trim (this is what I did).

Prepping for the zipper: Fold the front edges over 1/4″ towards the right side of the fabric. (22″ from the bottom). 

Open up the zipper and pin it along the front so the zipper teeth align with the fold. 

Sew the zipper into place sewing right along the teeth (using your zipper foot) and then another row just along the zipper tape edge. Now you’ve got a lovely Autumn poncho that doubles as a versatile kilt!

*In collaboration with Laura from Trash to Couture 


4 thoughts on “DIY Zipper Poncho/Kilt

  1. Kristin Reply

    I just cut the fabric for this pattern, using vintage 100% wool in a plaid-ish/houndstooth-ish design. I would like to send a photo of my project, if you’d like. I plan on if not finishing this, at least getting a lot of it done tomorrow (Feb 15, 2019) I have had this very project in my To-Do list for a very long time.

  2. Kristin Reply

    Hi Laura! I wish we could post photos here…. I am almost done with the poncho- it took a while as I only worked on it during “free time” – very rare around here – & I’m deciding to do buttons instead of the zipper. I cut my own bias binding with the same wool fabric. I have some other black/grey tone plaid vintage wool fabric I am going to do another of your ponchos- and use a black trimmed separating zipper as per your pattern.

    Question: is this your original idea for this asymetric poncho? if so, what was your inspiration?? It’s almost Japanese in it’s simplicity, usefulness and beauty. I am impressed with the design, it’s something that would come from a pretty technical mind.

    Thank you – and I want you to know I have been studying, educating myself on sewing, cutting out & garment making for over seven years! Books I have Bishop’s Clothing Construction, another Bishop’s book on sewing, Merchant & Mill’s books, many more excellent garment making & sewing instruction titles- I bought a Janome machine around 8 yrs ago, I have a nice collection of vintage sewing patterns & various other patterns, embroidery and about any notion, sewing foot, accoutrements for garment making you can imagine- but YOUR poncho I kid you not, is THE very first garment I have ever in my life constructed! I studied, researched sewing for a long time, always planning on making “something”, but shied away from starting anything for fear of it being too much work, too complicated. This pattern, this idea was the magnum opus of my home sewing avocation! Please accept this compliment as a high one, as you deserve every accolade.

    Thank you again.

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