Poncho Liner Top Quilt Revisited

I posted this piece about making a top quilt from a Army surplus poncho liner on my old blog and on HammockForums in mid-April last year. The thread came up again recently when one of the forum members asked if I would change about the quilt. While I answered the question on HammockForums, I thought it might be worthwhile to repost the original blog post with some new suggestions here. So here goes…

The DIY bug bit me again this week. After making a Climashield TQ for winter hangin’ I began thinking about making another TQ for summer. I liked the fleece TQ I made last year but it was a little warmer than I wanted and ended up being a bit too short. Didn’t work for me but my oldest daughter Ashley was thrilled to get it. Last fall I made Sew-Up PLUQ’s for my daughters and for Ashley’s boyfriend Jared for Christmas. I’d ordered some poncho liners off fleabay and when I received them I noticed they seemed quite thin. I thought that one might make a good summer TQ so I kept that little tidbit of info stuck in the back of my brain.

A few weeks back Jared’s dad asked me if I’d make PLUQs for him and his other son Jonah. Naturally, I told him I’d be glad to and asked him if he’d order an extra for me. The poncho liners came in last week and by the time they arrived, I’d had a pretty good opportunity turn the idea of a poncho liner top quilt around in my brain several times and had pretty much figured out how I was going to make it.

Now I know there are easier ways to make a TQ out of a poncho liner. In fact, it can be done with no cutting or sewing at all…but what fun is that (famous last words)?

Fortunately I’d saved the poster board TQ template I put together when I made my winter TQ so that saved me a big step. All I had to do to get started was spread out the poncho liner, tape the template to it and draw the outline with a Sharpie marker. Next I ran a line if stitching all the way around the the outline of the TQ to ‘stabilize’ the new edges of the ripstop and the insulation. I used white thread to make the edge easier to see when I cut it out.


Some of the quilting on the poncho liner was coming loose so I change over to the black thread I’d be using for the rest of the build and made some repairs.


Once the repairs were finished I cut the whole thing out.

Cut Out

I added grosgrain ribbon along the top edge and along the sides to cover the raw edges. I added channels of ripstop to the bottom 24 inches of the sides and along the bottom.

Channels and Edges

The ripstop channels served 3 purposes. 1) They covered the raw edges; 2) the channel along the bottom would receive a drawstring to allow me to cinch up the bottom, creating a foot box and 3) the channels along the sides would be sewn together to complete the foot box.


I was pretty pleased with the result.

Finished - Back


As with any new piece of new DIY gear, I had to take it out this afternoon for a test drive…


I’m not sure why but that test drive lasted nearly two hours and I was accused of snoring. Hey, quality control is important right?
BTW, for those that are wondering – total cost was just over $20 for the poncho liner (including shipping), 4 yards of grosgrain and a new spool of polyester thread. I haven’t had a chance to weigh it yet…

Fast forward a year…

Last week, Craig Thoreson (aka craigthor on HF) mentioned he’d purchased a few poncho liners to make into underquilts and a top quilt and he asked if there was anything I would change about the quilt. I responded that knowing I would probably be making more for my kids, I’d come up with a few ideas to simply the construction process which included:

1. I would leave the PL its original size and shape and remove the string ties but not the edging.

2. To form the channel at the bottom for the drawstring I’d simply fold the end over a couple of inches and sew it down – you’ll regain 4 or 5 inches of usable PL this way.

3. To complete the footbox simply fold the PL in half lengthwise (inside out) and stitch up about 24 inches from the edge of the drawstring channel toward the top.

4. Once finished, insert your drawstring in the channel, cinch it up, trim the drawstring ends if you like and turn it right-side out…done.

I didn’t have to wait too long before Craig let me know he had finished his poncho liner top quilt using my suggestions and he seemed pretty pleased. Craig sent me a few pick of his quilt.

Craig folded over just the edging on one end of the poncho liner and sewed it down to form the drawstring channel.

Folded Over and Sewn

I was wondering if it might end up being difficult to cinch up all the way.  Turns out it was and it didn’t close completely at the foot end.


Since it’s really intended for warm weather I didn’t see that as too big of a problem.  I wonder if folding the end over a little more might help with that?  Craig got creative with some paracord and found his own solution…


Update:  Craig got himself a new hammock this week and had to take both the hammock and his new top quilt out for a test drive…


It appears that the test drive was a success…

BTW, options for creating the footbox of a poncho liner top quilt aren’t limited to the methods I’ve described.  Want some more ideas?  Check this out this diagram from Derek Hansen’s The Ultimate Hang website (Thanks Derek!)…


This entry was posted in Backpacking, Camping, Hammock, Hammock Camping, Hiking, Top Quilt. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Poncho Liner Top Quilt Revisited

  1. Jules Burroughs says:

    Hi Steve!
    Nice job on the DIY projects! I am interested in both projects especially the PLTQ and this will get me off to a great start!
    BTW, we are nearly neighbors! I lve in S. Fulton so I am always in Newnan for something or other.
    Thanks again for posting!


    • dppoppers says:

      Thanks! I do like my PLTQ. Where in SoFu are you? We used to live near Palmetto before we moved a little further south.


  2. Jane says:

    I wish I had your skills! Sadly I’m a bit pathetic in the DIY department. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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