How to Make a Ruana Wrap

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The Irish have worn traditional ruana wraps for centuries. The ruana is a rectangular cape with a slit cut up the front, which is worn either open in front or with one panel thrown over the shoulder with a large brooch pin to secure in place. You can make your own ruana cape in your choice of non-fraying fabrics, such as Melton wool or fleece. The capes are generally sold as one-size-fits-all for adults; however, when making your own, you can tailor your cape to fit your width and length specifications.

Things You'll Need

  • Tape measure
  • Calculator (optional)
  • Fabric
  • Sewing scissors
  • Sewing machine

Measure from the top of your shoulder to your knee. Alternatively, you can choose to make the cape whatever length you would like. Add four inches to this number to allow for hemming and write this number down. Ruanas are traditionally knee-length, but you can choose to make it slightly longer or shorter, as desired.

Multiply the length number you calculated by two. This is the amount of fabric you need to purchase in inches. Divide this number by 36 for the exact amount of fabric you need in yards. You will need a fabric that is at least 52 inches wide for most adults or 45 inches wide for most children.

Outstretch your arms and measure, in inches, the width from one wrist to the other. You may need to have another person help you with this measurement. Add two inches to this measurement to account for hemming and write it down. This measurement is the width you will need for the wrap.

Place the fabric flat on a work surface. Measure across the width of the fabric and mark the area that matches your width measurement with a fabric marker. Cut up the length of fabric to remove excess width.

Fold the fabric in half widthwise, lining up the selvages. Cut the fabric on the fold using a pair of sewing scissors.

Stack the two pieces of fabric, right sides together, on the table. Make sure the ends meet evenly.

Measure to find the center lengthwise on the fabric. This will be the neckline area of the wrap. Mark the center with a fabric marker.

Place straight pins from one end of the fabric to the center mark you created. Then stitch along the pinned edge using a 5/8-inch seam allowance. Back stitch on the sewing machine at both ends for added strength.

Create a 1/4-inch double-folded hem around the entire front opening of the cape, up one side and down the other, and pin in place with straight pins. Stitch the hem on the sewing machine, removing the pins as you sew. This will create a clean, finished appearance in the front opening of the cape. Alternatively, you can choose to leave the front opening un-hemmed since you will be using a no-fray fabric.

Create a 1/4-inch double-folded hem around the bottom hem and around the outer sides of the cape to create a clean, finished edge. Again, you can choose to leave these areas un-hemmed, if desired.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you plan on wearing the wrap with both front panels down, you can stitch a clasp closure to the front opening at around the center chest area.
  • To wear the wrap with one flap over the shoulder, push a brooch pin through the top and bottom layers of the fabric to secure the flap in place. Do not pull the flap too tightly; rather, create a loose drape with the fabric.
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