When the temperature rises, one of the very best quick-cooling spots on your body is your neck. This is because there are blood vessels very close to the surface of your skin. These are called pulse points. Applying a moist compress to these pulse points helps you cool down quickly and easily. That's the job of our Chill Out Neck Wraps, which use water absorbing crystals for cooling power. You may have seen versions of these online or in stores. They have become quite popular because they're comfy to wear, hold their chill for hours, and are fast and inexpensive to make. We've added our own S4H style with more functional, tube-like cooling pockets and a template for pretty rounded ends.
This is a wonderful ScrapBusters project as you need just a single long strip of fabric for each tie. However, there's no law saying you couldn't also piece together shorter sections to create your finished length. It would even to fun to piece together different fabrics for a patchworked look.
Super absorbing polymer crystals are doing the work here. These crystals are the main ingredient in many disposable diapers. Not only do they do a great job of absorbing water (one pound of crystals can suck up about 50 gallons of water!), they hold on to it for a long time. Depending on the heat and your level of activity, this type of neck wrap can keep you "chilled out" for several hours.
They're great for hiking, cooling down after sports activities, or just lounging in the summer sun. We've also seen runners use them as head bands, and power-nappers would love them as eye pillows.
They would even work well to help keep your pup from overheating on long walks. Although it's recommended the wraps be removed when the dog is unsupervised.
Our research showed the majority of these crystals are non-toxic, bio-degradable, and environmentally safe. However, they should be kept out of the reach of small children because, if swallowed, they can present a choking hazard.
Our standard adult neck wrap finishes at approximately 37" x 2". For a child (about 8-10 years), we recommend approximately 28" x 2". For a dog, measure the neck, and adjust accordingly. Our 65 lb. doggy model is wearing a 40" x 2" tie, and she is quite proud of it!
The water absorbing crystals can be found at most craft or even home improvement stores. We got ours at Michaels. Different brands will absorb at different rates and the beads will swell to varying sizes.
Our steps below are based on the crystals we used and several tests we conducted. We recommend you make some little prototypes to test your crystals prior to starting. To do this, simply create a few short tubes from the same width of scrap fabric (4½" for our design with a ¼" seam). Fill each tube with a different amount of crystals. We tested ⅛, ¼ and ½ teaspoonfuls. Close up the ends once filled, then let the tubes soak overnight. In the morning, you can determine which is the best fill. You don't want it super tight or the gel can actually begin to ooze through the fabric, making the surface kind of slimy.
Sewing Tools You Need
- Sewing Machine and standard presser foot
- Quarter Inch Seam foot; optional but helpful for keeping a long seam allowance precise
Fabric and Other Supplies
Supplies shown are for ONE tie
- For each tie, you need a minimum of ⅛ yard of fabric. The cut is 4½", which is exactly ⅛ yard, so you may prefer to work with a ¼ yard to give yourself a little wiggle room. We looked through our Sew4Home scrap bin to find fabric from Paula Prass (the brown dot), Patty Young (the bright green) and Joanna Figueroa (the blue floral).
- ONE small package of water absorbing crystals (also called super absorbing polymers)
NOTE: These are easy to find in the floral section of most craft stores. You don't need much; we used just one teaspoon to fill each of our wrap's four pockets. However, as mentioned above, different brands may absorb at different rates.
- All purpose thread to match fabric
- See-through ruler
- Fabric pen or pencil
- Seam gauge
- Seam ripper
- Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
- Pinking shears; optional for finishing
- Iron and ironing board
- Straight pins
- Hand sewing needle
- Measuring spoons
The steps and cut sizes below show our doggy size neck wrap. The steps are the same no matter the size.
- We traditionally recommend pre-washing fabric based on how the final item will be used. In this case, since these are not meant to be laundered (because of those absorbent crystals), we still recommend pre-washing to remove any fabric sizing.
- If you want to round the ends of your neck wrap, download and print out our ONE template: Curved End Template. You could certainly use a straight cut or angled end as well, it does not affect the construction – just the finished look.
IMPORTANT: This pattern is ONE 8½" x 11" sheet. You must print the PDF file at 100%. DO NOT SCALE to fit the page. There is a guide rule on the page so you can confirm your final printout is to scale.
- Cut out the template along the solid line. Set aside.
- From the fabric, cut ONE 4½" x 41" strip (doggy length - adult length is approximately 38" - child length is approximately 29").
At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board
- Fold the fabric strip in half, right sides together so it is now 2¼" x 41". Pin along the 41" side. Leave both ends open.
- Fold and/or measure to find the center of the strip (20½" in from each end on our sample). Mark this point with a pin.
- Measure 11" to the right of the center pin and place another marking pin.
NOTE: If making a child size tie, use 8½" as your measurement rather than 11".
- Measure 2" to the right of this second marking pin and place a third marking pin. The 2" space between the second and third marking pins will be left open for turning as well as for inserting the crystals.
- Using a ¼" seam allowance, stitch the length of the folded strip. Remember to lock your seam on either side of the 2" opening. We used our Janome Quarter Inch Seam foot for a consistent seam.
- Finish the seam allowance with your favorite method. We suggest a simple zag zag or pinked finish. We used a pinked finish. Press the seam allowance open.
- Turn the wrap right side out through the opening. Roll the seam so it is centered on one side and press flat.
- If using a curved end, set the template in place, centering it on the seam, and round each end. You could also leave the ends as a square cut or cut them at an angle - your choice. Cut around just the very end of the template to create the curve. Since we used pinked edges as our seam finish, we used our pinking shears to cut the curved end.
- When both ends are cut, turn the wrap wrong side out again. Flatten so the seam is still running down the center and pin both ends closed.
- Using a ¼" - ½" seam allowance, stitch around the curve to close each end.
- Press open the seam allowances.
- Turn the wrap right side out once again. Insert a long, blunt end tool, such as a knitting needle, chopstick or point turner, through the opening in the seam and push out the ends so they are nice and smooth.
- Press flat.
- Once again, fold or measure to find the exact center of the strip. Mark with a pin top and bottom.
- From the center marking pin, measure 10" to the right and 10" to the left. Mark each of these points with a pin top and bottom. These center sections will become the pocket tunnels for the crystals. The 10" to the right pin should be just in front of the 2" opening in the seam.
NOTE: If making a child size tie, use 7½" as your measurement rather than 10".
- At the left 10" mark, stitch a vertical seam from top to bottom ( the left end should be the end opposite the opening in the seam). We triple stitched the seam for extra strength.
- Starting at this left vertical seam, stitch down the center of the tie to the right 10" mark. Your new seam is running right along the existing centered seam. Make sure you are only stitching that 20" distance.
- Using your pre-determined amount of crystals (as mentioned above, we recommend making some small prototype tubes to confirm the amount of crystals needed), insert one measure through the opening in the seam to fill each of the two left pocket tunnels. We used a ¼ teaspoon in each of our pocket tunnels.
- Hold up the wrap vertically and gently shift the crystals so they fall down against the first (the left) vertical seam. When you are sure all the crystals are out of the way. Replace the wrap under the presser foot at the marked center point and stitch a second vertical seam (again, we recommend double or triple stitching). This closes the two left pocket tunnels.
- Again using the opening in the seam, insert one measure into each of the two right pocket tunnels. Shift these crystals down against the center seam.
- Replace the wrap under the presser foot once again at the marked right 10" point and double/triple stitch a third and final vertical seam. This closes the two right pocket tunnels.
- The drawing below illustrates the four pocket tunnels you create and shows the position of the opening in the seam to insert the crystals (the fill gap).
- Fold in the raw edges of the opening so they are flush with the sewn seam. Thread the hand sewing needle and hand stitch the 2" opening closed with tiny stitches.
Soaking, cooling and caring for the tie
- To activate the crystals, submerge the finished tie in a bowl of cold water for a minimum of four hours. Filtered, spring, or distilled water works best. Tap water certainly works, but some tap water contains a high mineral content that can affect the crystals reaching their maximum size.
- Different brands of crystals take different lengths of time to absorb. Also, the first soak takes the longest. After that, the crystals remain wet for awhile so subsequent soaks will take less time.
- The ties can be stored in the refrigerator. This is plenty of cooling; freezing isn't necessary and can be hard on the life of the crystals.
- The ties can mold or mildew if left wet in a plastic bag. Storing in the fridge in an open bowl is best.
- To store for longer periods of time, the ties should be allowed to completely dry out, which may take a week or longer.
Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation: Debbie Guild