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Saturday, 18 August 2018

Quasi-Tutorial: Icy Cool Neck Wrap

Icy Cool Neck Wrap by eSheep Designs
Something to keep you cool during the hot summer months...
Today's freebie has been on my mind for at least a month now and was in danger of being put off because I had too many distractions on my plate. But it occurred to me that if I didn't get it out now, I may as well wait until next year, since summer (at least in the northern hemisphere) is fast coming to a close.

However, climate change is likely making this project a relevant item no matter when and where you live.

When I made this a couple of weeks ago, it was between 30°C and 34°C for several days (that's up to 93°F) and that trend has actually occurred more often this summer than any other in my memory. We are definitely breaking ground on a "new normal". (That being said, two days after setting new heat records around the province, we plummeted to a "high" of just 12°C... just under 54°F. It's insane, I tell you.)

Icy Cool Neck Wrap by eSheep Designs
A cool cravat...
Anyway, the Icy Cool Neck Wrap is a scrap friendly, recycling friendly, discount store friendly project. That means it's cheap to make. And it'll only take about an hour.

The concept is nothing new — again, I take no credit for having much originality here — but there must be a reason why I've never made or purchased one of these things before.

Other neck cooler DIYs that I've seen use expanding water crystals. Perhaps it's just me, but I don't like the potential problem of trying to keep such an item clean and germ-free, nor do I appreciate the way they have to be soaked in water to be activated and then worn wet.

I actually mix those crystals in with soil for my houseplants and know for a fact that they shrink as they dry, needing water to plump them up again. The problem is, they don't plump up all that fast after they've dried out.

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What did I opt for? This discount store friendly item:

Reusable ice cubes!

A bag of 18 reusable ice cubes was $1.25 at Dollarama. That is sufficient to fill two neck wraps, or one wrap with a refill. I would have preferred them to be round (easier to manipulate) but I can't complain at the price. (There are also more expensive versions that might retain their coldness for longer; unfortunately I don't have any empirical data to share on that.)

Icy Cool Neck Wrap by eSheep Designs
Two Icy Cool Neck Wraps with extra inserts...

What else do you need? Some scraps of jersey fabric, a strip of synthetic knit (or cotton) fabric for the outside, a hair tie, and a 9" zipper (or hook and loop tape).

Opportunities to recycle? Source the jersey from old t-shirts or bedding. For the outside synthetic knit, old leggings that you don't wear any more are perfect choices.

Make Inner Casing

I cut up 3.75" x 14" remnants from an old jersey pillow case to create casings for these cubes. I merely sewed up the side with a 1/4" seam allowance, then sewed up one end with a 1/2" seam allowance, filled up with nine cubes, then sewed up the other end. (Note that while the individual cubes fit snugly within the casing, there is meant to be space between each.)

Icy Cool Neck Wrap by eSheep Designs
A jersey casing for the ice cubes...

The piece of jersey that I used was quite stretchy. Until you determine how stretchy your material might be, however, you may want to start with a 4" wide strip (x 14" long). Test it out and if need be, you can sew a second narrower side seam for a tighter fit.

What you want is for the cubes to be able to move when you push them along inside the casing, but you don't want them to roll around on their own.

Icy Cool Neck Wrap by eSheep Designs
The two components of the Icy Cool Neck Wrap...

The insert part goes into the freezer. When it's time to wear the neck wrap, it gets put into the outer sleeve (which can be easily washed).

Icy Cool Neck Wrap by eSheep Designs
Side view of the Icy Cool Neck Wrap...

I debated with myself over whether to use a zipper or velcro. In the end, I went the zipper route, but if you don't even like the word zipper, hook and loop tape should also do the trick.

Icy Cool Neck Wrap by eSheep Designs
You want the casing to be as snug as possible inside the sleeve, to minimize slipping...

The total length of the fabric used for the outer sleeve was 28", but that's only because it was a fat quarter of Spoonflower performance pique (a selection from my Canadiana collection), which comes in a width of 56".

I'd say 28" is the shortest length that you should go with; feel free to use something a bit longer, perhaps 32" to 36". (A longer length is also an important consideration if the person who will wear it is built more like a linebacker than me.)

Icy Cool Neck Wrap by eSheep Designs
A hair tie elastic sewn into the seam functions as a means to tie the two ends of the wrap...

By the way, if you opt for cotton, it won't have any stretch to it, so you may want to take that into account when deciding how wide to make this piece.

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Make Outer Sleeve

To make the sleeve, I took my strip of 4.5" x 28" fabric and folded it in half lengthwise with right sides together. I then marked the mid-point with a yellow pin.

Icy Cool Neck Wrap by eSheep Designs
Use these measurements as a guide only, since you may want to customize the size...
note: the 4.5" refers to the width of the original fabric unfolded

After centering the zipper under the yellow pin, I added a set of orange pins to mark where the zipper teeth started and ended.

A 3" long tapered curve was then cut into each end.

Icy Cool Neck Wrap by eSheep Designs
Stack up both ends and cut the taper once...

The idea is to start sewing at each of the orange pins and work out to each tapered end. Using knit fabric, the 4.5" width of this strip — when sewn up with a 3/8" seam allowance — resulted in a perfect, snug fit for the ice cube casing.

Icy Cool Neck Wrap by eSheep Designs
Trim the seam allowance at the tapered ends...

The elastic hair tie has to be inserted into one of these seams. I positioned it about 6" in from the end.

Icy Cool Neck Wrap by eSheep Designs
Slip a (larger) portion of the hair tie into the seam allowance at one end, about 6" in...

The zipper is sewn in last. With the whole unit still wrong side out, I pinned the zipper tape to one of the sides of the opening and sewed it up.

When attaching a zipper, always remember that right sides must be facing (i.e., right side of zipper against right side of fabric).

Icy Cool Neck Wrap by eSheep Designs
Attach one side of zipper tape...

Then I repeated with the other half of the zipper. (Keep the zipper open so that it can be turned right side out!)

Icy Cool Neck Wrap by eSheep Designs
Attach other side of zipper tape...

I had to run a few stitches at the ends of the zipper tapes to close them up against the seam before turning the whole thing right side out.

Icy Cool Neck Wrap by eSheep Designs
Use something like a old pen (with ink barrel removed) to poke out the ends...

If you were wondering how the hair elastic is supposed to work, take a look here.

Icy Cool Neck Wrap by eSheep Designs
How to use the elastic...

Loop the elastic around the end of the wrap that it's attached to; then pass the other end of the wrap through the loop to secure like a bolo tie.

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The Verdict

When I first put this on, I thought, well, that's not as cool as I figured it would be. However, after about ten seconds, it actually did start to feel cold. Just as putting on a scarf in the winter is enough to warm you up when you're feeling chilly indoors, this neck wrap does a good job of gradually cooling you down and keeping you cool.

I put it to the test while out pulling weeds one afternoon and was impressed by how much better I felt, despite the fact that it was quite hot. Results will vary depending on the temperature of the wearer and the surrounding air, but I was consistently able to get just about three hours of comfort out of mine.

Icy Cool Neck Wrap by eSheep Designs
A cool wrap that's also sporty looking, no?

And of course, someone will likely want to ask, why not insert the actual ice cube thingies inside the sleeve and omit the casing altogether? You can certainly do that. But they sweat as they warm up and having the extra layer of jersey around them is protection against that clamminess... unless you like that feeling. The whole thing would also instantly feel a lot colder, which — believe it or not — isn't pleasant on sensitive skin. (You would know what I mean if you've ever used a cold pack without a protective cloth.)

Finally, I think that the extra layer promotes slower "warming up" and makes the whole cooling process last longer.

At least, that's how I found it. Hubby and I will find these handy for all sorts of applications. (And yes, it's another thing you can sew up for a guy!)

1 comment:

  1. For a while there, I used one of those neck coolers with water crystals. As you said, no way to wash it, so it didn't last long. I've resorted to a scarf that I wet, and keep rewetting. Your neck wrap looks like it could do the job well. I'll be on the look out for those little ice cube containers.

    Sadly, climate change is a reality. We've always had extremes, but they are now so much more frequent.


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