Monday, July 6, 2009

Better sewing through chemistry: Cool ties!

Cold ties are long thin scarves containing polymer crystals that soak up water. You tie them around your neck for the hot months after soaking them in water, and they keep you cool during the day. I couldn't make it through the summer without them! (I've even made a pillow out of them! Summer and Susan are not the best of friends).

What are the polymer crystals you need? You can get them at Michael's or other craft stores in the floral department, or in gardening stores as soil moisteners (far cheaper!) Ask for those crystal thingies you put in vases or planters that suck up water. They'll know what you mean.

1 piece of 100% cotton - 1 metre or yard long, 4 inches (10 cm wide)
needle and thread (or sewing machine)
1/2 tsp to 1 tsp polymer crystals (do not go over this amount -- you will have a very puffy cool tie!)

Click here for the PDF.

1. Put the right sides together for the fabric and cut out a piece about 4 inches (10 cm) wide and about 1 metre long (you won't need all this fabric...probably about 25 inches or so, but I always cut out the bigger piece...)
2. Mark your hem at 6 mm or 1/4 inch on all three sides.
3. Sew up one short side and the long side. Cut the corners for a sharper corner. Flip inside out.
4. Now iron it. Please do this -- it looks much much nicer.
5. Find the centre of the fabric and mark it with a pin. Now measure from that pin about 9 inches on either side (6 inches if this is for a smaller person), and mark that. This is going to be the casing for the crystals.
6. At the marking at the end you've sewn, sew across it. This is going to create a pocket that is completely closed. This is a good thing.
7. Now put in the 1/2 tsp to 1 tsp of polymer crystals. (1/2 tsp for the smaller cold tie).
8. Now sew across the other mark you made.
9. Now sew the open side.
You're done!

Soak these ties for about 45 minutes before using. Over time, the water will evaporate out of the crystals and you'll have to re-soak it.

This is a great gift for someone who needs to relax. (Hmm, I'm seeing a theme here somewhere...I think in my own not-so-subtle way I'm suggesting I need to relax!)

Download a pattern and cut it out (see below for links). Put in about 1/4 tsp crystals -- don't use more because you will make it too heavy! My modifications for a cooling eye mask:
1. Use a silky fabric on the back and a pretty cotton fabric on the front (or more silky fabric).
2. Don't use the batting in the middle. Just make up the eye mask with one layer of silky fabric, one layer of cotton fabric.
3. Leave the space for inserting the elastic a little bit bigger so you can put the crystals in.
4. Enjoy it!

Great eye mask from Burda Style but I think you need to log in to download it...

Eye mask on Craft Bits


BubblyGirl said...

That sounds nice! Maybe I'll make them as a give away.

* If I could only find my sewingmachine... XD
I think it under my other projects. ;O)

Anonymous said...

Are these washable?

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

In theory, yes, they are washable. In reality, I wouldn't bother. They're so easy to make, rather than trying really hard not to leave any soap residue behind that might get foamy when you wash them, I just make a ton of them and throw them out when they get grungy. (They do take a long time to get grungy. I am using ones from last year!)

Pearlyn said...

Do you have a picture of the polymer crystals? Cause I have absolutely no idea what are they & I'm in a tropical country which is very hot without air con 24/7...

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

I did a google search and found this.