I decided having something to sling on as an extra layer round camp fires, bbqs, at home or away would be extremely handy. A poncho/ tabard type item seemed to fit the bill. Remembering a bag of old bar towels I had been keeping from when my Dad worked for a brewery company and owned a pub, the "bar-towel-poncho" quickly followed.
Finally, a fun way to unleash the bar towels from the loft and into use! I always thought they were too important souvenirs to just mop up beer spills. The added bonus is that since they are towels the poncho could also be a bathrobe / towel too, hello added functionality.
Given we are mid-winter in West Wales, I wasn't convinced just one towelling layer would always be enough, hence I decided to make a detachable extra layer. Having it detachable also makes it easier for washing and drying too, hooray!
For the other side, I used bits of an old throw and blanket.
So, I hope the Instructable helps give you an insight as to how this was put together and inspires you to modify and make your own version :)
Step 1: Gather Up Materials
If you want to go for the versatile, double layered design feature you'll need:
- Towelling material (maybe old bath towels, tea towels, bath robes would fit the bill)
- A warm layer (old fleece jackets, throws, blankets etc).
- Sewing machine, pins, scissors, thread, and fasteners (to join the two layers together): I used large poppers/ press studs.
Step 2: Play and Pin
If you're using smaller scraps of fabric the first stage is to construct an appropriate shape with the pieces in a manner that pleases.
After repeating the process of pinning things together, carefully trying on and adjusting, I eventually found a cross shape gave the rough shape required to cover the whole of the arms and reach a decent length.
Just concentrating on one layer at a time means you can use the completed first layer as a template for the second.
Now, the exciting part...to the sewing machine!
Step 3: Stitch It Up
Before we get too excited, first assess the edges of the fabric you're using, they might need hems, or serging/ zig-zagging to prevent fraying with wash and wear. This layer I am lucky as all the bar towels are ready to go, whoopee!
Again, there are simpler/ different ways to go about sewing the parts together: One could put right sides together and straight stitch the pieces, as you might for a patchwork quilt, it certainly uses less thread. I decided I wanted to the towels to lie flat though and also like the vaguely decorative nature of the common zig zag, so went for that, though again it did take up a lot of thread this way! If you're intent on following in my footsteps, overlap the two layers and zig zag the join to sew them together.
I sewed in sections re-pinning and checking the design as I went (the bar towels are NOT all the same size, hence some extra fiddling around) until I had built up the whole design.
Part 1 complete!
Step 4: And Repeat!
Using the first layer as a template, play around with your scraps to build a second layer of the same shape, remembering to allow room for seams etc (this time I am going for straight stitch!).
My throw and blanket scraps did need some attention before joining them all together, queue the zig zag again (fingers crossed for a serger in the future ;) ). Once all edges are 'made safe', the outer edges of the poncho can be hemmed. The raw zigzag edge is folded over and hems sewn.
Again, I pinned and sewed by section, adjusting as I went to accommodate for the irregular bits I was using.
This time I made the full shape and then cut the head hole to match the first layer.
Step 5: Two Become One
There are many ways to go about joining the two layers, buttons, or tie tabs are two alternative options that spring to mind, which potentially mean less hand-sewing .
I went for poppers/ press studs as they are simple to attach and offer quick and easy attach/detach action. 8 large press studs, one for each of the main corners seemed to do the job.
I used pins to mark the positions of the press studs on each layer to make sure they would match up when together. Then time to set up with a needle thread and some good music on in the background for the hand sew section, ready for that satisfying "pop" when they come together!
Of course, before you are done you might want to add some embellishments...
In this case a section of the old blanket used had some unsightly stains, so a donated Instructables patch (thanks bongodrummer) and left overs from another project added some visual interest as well as performing a good cover-up job!
Step 6: Enjoy the Warmth
Uses thought of so far:
- Super-warm poncho/ camping blanket
- Protective layer at bbqs and the like from spitting fires, flying food etc
- Extra layer to reduce heating bills at home
- Beach towel
- Picnic blanket
- Beer-nerding fancy dress garb/ CAMRA super hero cloak (Campaign for Real Ales that is)
- Innovative beer wenching costume...