Monday, March 9, 2009

Neck Coolers

Above is one adult cooler and one kid's cooler

Every year when we go to the Renaissance Festival it is on the weekend when the sun is blazing and it is very hot. Especially when sitting in the sun watching the joust or other shows. Some of them have a few seats in the shade but mostly you are sitting in the sun. This year I decided to make some neck coolers, just in case. The weather was perfect this year.

I made some of these about 9 years ago when my husband and I took a mule ride down to the bottom of the Grand Canyon with my sister and her family. These were great! They kept me from feeling over heated.

Be kind this was 9 years ago after a long mule ride down to the bottom of the Grand Canyon. I will also mention that I had a hat on all day and it was the middle of July. The point of this picture is to show you my neck cooler. I can't remember the dimensions I made them back then. I can tell you they were the same width but other then that I couldn't say for sure. I know that I used way more crystals then was needed. When fully hydrated they were hard to bend around our necks.

If you like to hike or just be out doors, even when it is hot, you must try these. My husband likes to wear one doing yard work. You can find them at camping stores but you can make them for a fraction of the cost. If you sew you probably have remnants big enough to make some.

What you will need:
Fabric (remnants from old projects are great)
Water gel crystals
Snaps or large buttons

You can find these water gel crystals in small packages at a craft store. They will be in the floral section. You don't need a lot of these crystals since they absorb something like 400 times their weight in water. Though I would suggest getting clear ones. That way you don't run the risk of dying the back of your neck. Also you can have fun with other projects. This package says that 1 ounce of crystals makes 1 gallon when hydrated.

If you plan to use them in your garden and as science experiments for your kids then get these at your local garden center. The crystals are smaller than the ones you get from the craft store. These are what I used for my neck cooler.

Here is an example. I hydrated 1 teaspoon of crystals in water. You can see here that the one teaspoon became about a cup and a half when hydrated. They probably could have taken on more water.

This one is for kids. So I started with the size of a 4 years old neck, 10 inches. I added 2 inches to account for the swelling of the crystals. I then added another 10 inches for the tie. I am adding snaps to the ends of these or big buttons. If you want to be able to tie them then I would add at least another 6 inches to the length. So I cut my fabric to 22 inches by 6 inches. To be able to tie them you want overall size to be 28 in by 6 inches. (Add at least 6 inches to the length for adult neck coolers).

In this picture I have folded a piece of fabric that is 18 inches by 22 inches. This will be enough for 3 neck ties. I folded it up so that I could make one short cut. For me this makes it easier to get a long straight cut. Be sure to fold it so that roll you are cutting is 18 inches long. Use a straight edge and cut at the 6 in. mark. Now do this at the 12 in. mark. You now have 3 pieces that are 6 in. by 22 in.

Fold them in half with the right sides together. They should look like this.

Now sew along the long edge to make them into tubes. Be sure to leave a section in the middle open so you can turn this right side out. If you are making more than one, go ahead and do the others too. It will be faster to do them assembly line style.

Then you are going to sew starting at one corner and make a diagonal line. Like the above picture shows. You don't have to measure. Just start at the corner and come in as far as you want. Do this with all of your tubes. Now that you have one diagonal sewn, fold your tube in half and match up the edges. Using a pin mark where your diagonal stops. This will give you a reference for sewing the 2nd diagonal so that both sides look the same.Here you can see the top diagonal that I have already sewn and the other side that I have marked where I need to sew to with a pin.

This isn't as tricky as it sounds. Start at the very corner just like you did for the other diagonals. Now keep a line of sight from the needle (or the center of the pressure foot) to the pin. This will give you matching angles on the finished edges.

Before you turn this right side out, trim the corners. Snip the very corner off and then just outside the diagonal. Oh and if you forgot to leave a section open to turn it right side out, use a seam ripper and open a section in the middle of the long seam.

When you have your project right side out. Push the corners out. I used my scissors. I put them through the opening and pushed them into the corner and down along that diagonal seam to get the other corner. Do the same with the other side. If you like to iron, do so now. I don't so I didn't. ;) I finger pressed the seams.

Here I have folded my cooler in half. I want the channel where I will put the crystals to be 12 inches long. So I have marked 6in in from the fold. Do this with both sides. Now sew down that 6in mark.

Add 1/2 teaspoon of the water crystals to the center channel.

Now carefully top stitch the seam edge to close off your opening. I top stitched along both edges and down on side. You can do both the long sides, but I like it with out too.

Here you can see that I have added snaps. When adding snaps one side will have the back of the snap facing up and the other side will have the front (snap) facing up. If you don't have a tool to put on snaps then a large button would also be great.

This is what they look like snapped. It may not look very bit but I can assure you this will fit a child's neck it will also fit my neck (which measured 13 inches to a 4 years old that measured 10 inches)

To hydrate your neck cooler simply fill a sink with luke warm water (the crystals soak up warm water faster) and leave them there for about 20 to 30 minutes. Here you can see the front one has been hydrated, while the pink one in the back has not. If you lay them out to dry they will go back to the original size till you soak them again.

If you want to clean your neck cooler, do it when the crystals are dry. Hand wash with mild soap and a little bit of water and then rinse. lay out or hand to dry. You don't want the crystals to soak up soapy water. Not sure what this would do with the crystals but I would think that the soap residue could irritate sensitive skin.

Another idea for these coolers. Why not put them in the freezer and pull them out when you need something for a bump or a bruise. I haven't tried putting them in the freezer yet but I assume they would be like those freezer packs that come in a heavy duty plastic bag.

7 comments: said...

What a great idea, I love the snaps. I was blown away by how well those crystals work. My mom sews them into dog blankets to keep the dogs cool when she travels. They work SO well! Putting them into neck coolers is a great idea! I'll be linking.

RootsAndWingsCo said...

Katrina, these are so great, especially here in the heat! Can't wait to get my family's!! ;)

Jennifer said...

What a great idea! I will be making my kiddo's and myself ones. These will be great for when we go to the Folk Music Festival!

RootsAndWingsCo said...

I wanted to point out a correction I have made. I was calling the gel crystals I used "Silica" but that brings to mind those little packets they pack in shoe boxes amoung other things. Those packets are not the same kind of gel crystals. So to avoid confusion I am calling what I used as Water Gel Crystals or cyrstal soil. The silica gel packets will not absorb water in the same quanitities and will not expand like the water gel crystals.


I have asked my brother, the polymer chemist, what the difference is. I will let you know what he says.

RootsAndWingsCo said...

My brother just got back to me on the water crystal verses silica gel question.

Silica gel is a form of highly porous glass. It is used for absorbing moisture in the air.

The water crystal is a water soluble polymer that has been crosslinked into a network that allows it to swell but not dissolve.

The long and sort of it is. I used the word silica gel in error. It won't work for this application. However, I would still use them in suitcases or anything I you don't want to rust, mildew, or will go bad if exposed to excess moisture. If you make your own bread they would help keep it from molding in a plastic bag.

Sorry for the confusion. I have taken the word silica gel crystals out of my posts. I honestly thought they were the same thing.

Lucky Mom said...

What a great idea. These would be ideal when I drag my 3 kiddos around to do errands on a hot Vegas summer afternoon.

Sandra said...

If you put these in the freezer, the ties will dry out. The nature of a freezer is to take the moisture out of the air.

I have several of the gel freezer packs. You can get them in the camping section or the pharmacy/first aid section. I keep these for fast cooling and injuries.