Summer weather in the Pacific Northwest is probably as close to perfect as you can get. I love it when the temperature is just right--not too hot, not too cool, almost like you can't even feel the air around you (except for the occasional soft breeze). However, we've had a few scorchers the last few weeks (one day broke 100-year-old records!) and no, I do not have air conditioning. So I escaped to the beach with my boys, but not until I had sewn up a couple of these neck coolers. Ahhh. . .that's better.
Neck Cooler Tutorial
What you'll need:
*A piece of cotton fabric, approximately 36" x 4"
*Water absorbing crystals - you can find these in the gardening dept. of home improvement stores (they're used to keep soil moist in potted plants), but I found mine in the rock/sand aisle at Michael's (mine were called Cracked Ice Crystals)
*Sewing machine and matching thread
1. Cut your fabric into a strip approx. 36" inches long and 4" wide for adults, or 3.5" wide for kids.
2. Fold your strip in half lengthwise with right sides together. Sew all the way up the long side. Turn your tube right-side out.
3. Fold your tube in half widthwise to find the middle. Mark it and sew across width-wise.
4. Measure about 1/4 tsp. of your crystals. Don't be tempted to use more than that. They swell up hundreds of times their size. Pour them into one half of your tube. Shake them down so they all go down to the bottom of the pocket.
5. Measure 4" from your center stitched line. Mark and stitch across. This will seal your first pocket of crystals. Repeat steps 4 and 5, putting more crystals in, measuring 4", and stitching across.
6. Repeat steps 4 and 5 again on the other side of the center line. You now have four 4" pockets.
7. Fold the ends inside the tube and stitch across to finish the ends of the ties. I stitched two lines just for fun.
8. Now it's time to soak! Put your pockets in a bowl of luke-warm water to soak for 10 minutes (cold water will take longer to absorb). Take it out and squish the crystals around so they're evenly spaced in each pocket. Then put it back in the bowl to soak for another 10-15 minutes, no longer. Store it in the refridgerator on a plate until ready to wear. Or dunk it in a bowl of ice water just before putting on.
Get ready to be cool!
I made one for myself that was a little fancier. First I made the tube with leftover fabric scraps. Then I sewed a coordinating ruffle on top. Couldn't help myself. Oh, and I also made a point on the ends of my ties.
Some tips and hints for using your coolers. . .
The crystals work by evaporative cooling, so water is slowly (very slowly) being released from the crystals and onto your skin. That means it will work better in drier climates than super humid climates. If it stops feeling cool, turn it over, dunk it in cold water, or put it in your cooler for a few minutes (but never freeze it!).
When you're done with it for a while, hang it somewhere to dry out. It could take a week or two! If you need to wash it, never put it in the washing machine. You can lather up a little dish washing soap in the sink and rinse it out.
Store your cooler uncovered in the fridge to keep it ready for your next hike, trip to the beach, or around the house if you don't have AC (like me!).
share this on »