Wednesday, July 21, 2010

how to sew a neck cooler

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!).

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34 Comments

34 Responses to “how to sew a neck cooler”

Baroness E said...

wow! i have never heard of this before. i will definitely make a couple. thanks for the tip.

SewLindaAnn said...

I was going to make simple neck wraps to put ice in for my summer tennis team. Now I'll not be lazy and follow your tute and make nice ones w/crystals. It's seriously hot here in Georgia too - can't wait to see what August has to offer!

tonic said...

Love this, what a great idea!

Angie said...

I am so happy that you posted this! We just bought my hubby a couple for work (he works in a machine shop that, with the swamp coolers, stays around 100 degrees this time of year). I was curious if you could make these! The only ones the store had were ugly floral ones that looked like they were left-overs from my great-great grandmother's fabric stash! Not so manly! ;) Now to see if I can get my hands on some of those crystals...

Kris said...

Hi there. I have a couple of these that I rely heavily on in our hot and dry summers. I wear them gardening and sometimes even doing housework. Perfect for a middle aged, hot flashing Mama!!!
: )

dannyscotland said...

Great tutorial, thank you! This will be useful in the heat and humidity of summer!

Evelyn said...

Thank you for this tutorial! I used to have one of these for motorcycling (it works great while riding), and I loved it. Such a great gift idea!

Lorilee said...

I have a couple that I bought several years ago. Our climate is quite humid, so the effect is not as great!
Blessings,
Lorilee

Remembrances said...

I taught our Sewing Circle at church to make these - we boxed up a whole bunch of them and sent to our troops in the Middle East last year. They work GREAT!

Amanda said...

Oh, I am so!! going to make a couple of these! Thanks for the post!

Savannah O'Gwynn said...

I have made these for about two years--love them! I didn't know (however) that you could use those crystals. I buy mine from a store online---expensive! So this will help:) LOOOOVE it! THANKS!

Makalani Adolpho, PLC said...

I sooo need one of those.

Stop by and share any halloween inspiration you have with us at Spooktacular Inspiration Link Party

~Makalani

Rachel said...

I make those for my daughter who has a skin condition that doesn't allow her to get overheated. I make them in infant and toddler sizes and sell them in my etsy store: http://prettylizzylu.etsy.com

Kari @ Ucreate said...

LOVE THIS! Perfect to make this time of year and will be a life saver to me for an upcoming parade!! THANKS!!

Jilly Bean said...

Sweet! That's so clever. I've never heard of anything like it. Thanks for sharing.

BlueMoonScrapbooking said...

I'm off to find some crystals today :)

Lynn Osborne said...

This is a great tutorial. Living in sunny Florida makes something like this wonderful. I bought some crystals yesterday. There were two sizes and I got the smaller. It said the balls will increase to about 1/2". The other pack said they'll get up to 1". How big do yours get once they are hydrated? Thanks again!!!!

Katie said...

I can not wait to make this!!! I remember my mom and aunt using these all the time when we use to frequent Disney! Now I can make them some!

Busy Mom said...

What a great idea. I'm always creating my own things as well. I love your blog. Stop by and check out some of the things I'm working on.

Busy Mom's Tips

Wendy P said...

I love these neck coolers! I still have almost the whole pound of crystals I bought last year, and I think I made about 20 ties.

Thanks for the tutorial on making them for little ones. In the summer heat and humidity of Florida, any cooling relief is welcome.

Wendy said...

I am so excited you posted this. I used to have one of these when i was younger and I'd use it for headache relief... works great! I am wondering though... how safe are the crystals? Are they toxic or leak any chemicals? Thanks!

Bowtie said...

I made this for our new dog Ted. He has black fur and gets very hot.
http://craftwith2ks.blogspot.com/2010/07/meet-ted.html

Little Birdie Secrets said...

Wendy: these are very safe. It's the same stuff they use in disposable diapers! :)

Sewing with Strings said...

Yay! I'm so happy I've learned how to make these; and am very much looking forward to putting one together.

I will say that I borrowed a friend's store-bought one awhile back and foolishly put the bowl of water in the fridge before heading out to mow the lawn. YIKES! It felt like instant frostbite on my neck. It was so painfully cold that I opted to mow the lawn using nothing on my neck. I highly recommend just using room temperature tap water.

I don't know if it had the same kind of crystals in it, but I strongly recommend trying the tap water first, then if it doesn't work (and you're brave!) go ahead and then try the fridge.

Lindsay @ Diary of a Crafty Lady said...

So, I would really like to make these for my daughters - I have a 4 year old and a 2 year old. I did see some of these crystals in the garden store - but they don't say anywhere on them "non-toxic". They don't say "if ingested contact poison control" or anything, but they do say, "keep out of reach of children".
Do you have any thoughts about this? Of course, when you have little ones, you can tell them not to put them in or near their mouths, but you can't be sure they won't. As I said, I would love to make some, so I am wondering if your brand said non-toxic, or if you think they are not toxic...thanks for any info you can give me!!
Lindsay

judygold said...

Love this idea! I made 5 for a recent trip to a balloon festival in TX (2 adults, 3 children). Also gave 2 to my 15 year old grandson who is working outside with his father this summer. A friend and I wore them at a recent Rangers baseball game and it helped us survive 100+ temp. Now I am working on 4 more (baseball material) for 4 of us going to a Texas Rangers game on 8/6/11. We will be the "coolest" fans in the ballpark!

judygold said...

The "Deco Beads" I bought at Hobby Lobby state they are "Non toxic. Environmentally safe. Dispose of beads in trash container." They should not be eaten, obviously, so you need to consider the pros and cons of letting small children wear them.

Alice said...

Sorry, I forgot to post this earlier but I made 13 of these and used them at an all day baseball tournament in 95 degree weather for my Grandson. We had seven of us using them and kept rotating them in and out of a cooler of ice water and I must say they saved the day. Oh yes, his team also won the tournament. I have dried them out to store for the winter and hope they will be ok again next summer. Thanks for the tutorial.

Cookie’s Mom said...

I have three of these, but I'm not overly fond of the colours/patterns. Thanks for the tutorial. Looking forward to making one that I will love!

Araceli Papke said...

Awesome! Hubby was wondering if I could make some for our family myself. Thanks for sharing!

Melody said...

Thank you so much for this tutorial. I have MS and it will be a huge help.

Rach said...

So I went to the dollar tree and your not gonna believe this. I found the crystals here. So if your looking to save some money check your local dollar tree.

Sewinggrandma said...

Thanks for sharing a great tutorial. I made them for my granddaughter's softball team. They are headed to Myrtal Beach in Juky for Nationals. Knowing that everything gets very sweaty and dirty at the ball park, I decided to make an inner tube, and then covers that could be changed easily. I made the inner tube out of white poly/cotton. Since it would be fitting inside a cover, it only needed to be 24" long. I completed this just as your tutorial suggested.
For the covers, we wanted them to feel soft on the skin. I purchased a Lycra blend that is used for sportswear. It comes very wide, so I purchased a yard 36". Of each of her team colors. I made the tube, but only stitched the 6" from one end. This would allow the tube to slide inside, but still have ends that can tie. They turned out great! The girls love that they have one to match each of their uniforms. We also put their name and number on each cover.
Thanks again for a great idea.

Y. Bentley said...

I have never heard of these before, we have high humidity here so I am not sure if they will work that great. I will make some anyway and give them a try. I might make some for the aunties overseas, for the really hot days as they don't use air con over there as there are not to many hot days. But it makes a nice gift just the same. I will add instructions also. thanks another project to make. :)

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