It’s a ruana!

So, post-Sewjourn I am starting off sharing a project that I made not while at Sewjourn but actually post-Sewjourn.  It do feel that it would be more logical to blog garments in the order that they are made, but sometimes other things seem more important than logic.  That definitely applies to the current Melbourne cold snap and the how vital it has now become to share information about how easy it is to make a ruana – commonly known as a blanket wrap.

ruana blanket wrap

Really, it’s all Anna’s fault. She brought her gorgeous blanket wrap along to Sewjourn, where it was just the ticket for keeping warm and for acting as a pillow. So it was at the forefront of my mind when my friend Kathryn sent me a photo of one that she had just made. Once combined with an IT problem at work that meant I couldn’t work from home as usual, and the extremely close proximity of my fabric stash, it wasn’t long before I was poring through lengths of wool and deciding on a fabric that would translate well into my very own ruana.

Ruana / blanket wrap

Okay, now let’s define Ruana. This is what Wikipedia says:

A ruana is a poncho-style outer garment typical of the Andes region of Venezuela and Colombia, particularly in the Boyacá department and Antioquia. According to Proexport, the official Colombian agency in charge of international tourism, foreign investment, and non-traditional exports, the word ruana comes from the Chibcha ruana meaning “Land of Blankets,” used to refer to the woolen fabrics manufactured by the Muisca natives.[

Similar to other poncho-like garments in Latin America, a ruana is basically a very thick, soft and sleeveless square or rectangular blanket with an opening in the center for the head to go through with a slit down the front to the hem. A ruana may or may not come with a hood to cover the head.

The ruanas worn by the native Muisca people were apparently made of wool and knee-long, well-suited to the cold temperatures of the region where they were used not only as a piece of garment but also as a blanket for use in bed or to sit on as a cushion of sorts. Many ruanas are handcrafted with sheep’s virgin wool. An 1856 watercolor shows an indigenous man in the Cordillera Occidental of Colombia weaving a ruana using a large foot-pedaled loom.

ruana or blanket wrap

ruana or blanket wrap

I’ve seen tutorials and photos of ruanas at different times over the years, but hadn’t realised just how quick and easy they would be to make – and how effective.  Anna made hers following instructions from The Cloth Shop, with a 130cm square of fabric.  I used Kathryn’s instructions, where the fabric was 150cm (the fabric width) by 130cm.  Since making it I have found a tutorial here that might be of assistance to some people.  Kathryn told me that the 150cm should run over my body, and the 130cm run across the body from wrist to wrist.  I somehow managed to get those two completely reversed, so my ruana is shorter than intended, but with longer “sleeves”.  Good one Lara.  However, the photograph below does have everything written on it the way that it is meant to go.

ruana or blanket wrap

It’s quite easy to alter both the length and width to suit your own proportions or taste.
I was fortunate to select fabric that had a nicely fringed selvedge, so I decided to just bind the neckline and then fringe the cut edges to match the selvedges. The neckline binding was a strip of wool knit fabric, cut about 2 inches wide. I sewed it on with a 1cm seam allowance, then turned it over the seam allowance to the other side and topstitched it in place. I then trimmed it close to the stitching line. It was SO easy.

ruana blanket wrap

I ran a couple of lines of narrow zig zag machine stitching about 1/4 inch in from the cut edge to stabilise it and prevent further fraying. It was easy to pull out the threads that were closest to the edge to make the little fringe. The fabric is a beautiful wool that has been in stash for a substantial period. I think it may have come from Darn Cheap Fabrics. The colours are so me!

ruana or blanket wrap

Depending on your fabric you might want to hem or bind all of the edges. It’s really up to personal preference and the fabric type. But honestly, if you live in a cold climate I’d really recommend giving this a go. Super fast and easy, super warm and snuggly. There are probably a few different ways that you can wear it.

ruana or blanket wrap


7 thoughts on “It’s a ruana!

  1. It looks great! You and Anna are starting a style revolution I think! I am wondering if in a lighter weight fabric it could replace my English cardigan during our Summer!!???

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