Saturday, July 9, 2011

Sewing: Cool ties for summer

After a lot of rain and cooler days, we're coming into the heat of summer around here. I start getting uncomfortable around 24˚C (including our high humidity), so I need to find ways of keeping cool when I'm visiting homes without even so much as a fan!

Here's my dishevelled Blondie dog modelling one of my favourite ties. In case you were wondering, she's also modelling what fly-away hair might look like! I couldn't get her to look at the camera as she just wanted to cuddle! 

So what are they? 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.

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 - the full width and about 4 inches high (10 cm)
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) high and the full width of the fabric. You might not need all this fabric, but I find I need at least 25 inches or so.

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 1/4 tsp to 1/2 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.


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

Hope I've given you a way of staying cool this summer! 


Anonymous said...

Hi Susan, thanks for this. Just a question - how long would the effect be? As in, after how long will I need to re-soak the tie?


Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Anonymous. Could you please post your name so we don't have anonymous posts? I don't allow those around here as it doesn't foster a sense of community.

I find it generally lasts a few hours before I need to take it off and let it cool down for a bit. The actual beads will stay wet for days on end - probably two or three in really hot weather, over a week in cooler weather - but I find it absorbs the heat from my neck and I have to take it off and let it sit for a bit before it cools down again.

Thanks for the reminder that I need to make a ton of these for the summer!