Sunday, August 26, 2012

Chill Out: Neck Coolers

It seems like a lifetime ago, but really it was 3 weeks... I help with our Service Unit Twilight Camp, along with about 50 other wonderful, amazing volunteers. The lady that coordinates the event just really has it down to a science. I stand in awe of her organizational skills. Anyway.... we have a day camp the first week of August each year for the girls and it is normally.... well.... hot. The event is spectacular and I love helping with it. I do songs.. la la la la... and have been given the title Song Lady by many girls.

Last year, it was hot. This year, it was going to be hot and I decided to take action and discover a way to connect with my inner coolness. I also decided we were not going to be marching and acting out 10 verses to the Ants go Marching. Ha. So, I did what any leader of 2012 would do... I hopped on Pinterest. I have great pinners that I follow and one amazing pinner pinned an item to solve my heated situation. A neck cooler... with water beads... that ties and is adorable...

It just so happened that I have been collecting Girl Scout fabric for a quilt for the girl's room and these take so little fabric, that we decided to use it for our neck coolers. Notice I said "we". Yep. This is a very simple sewing project and the girl (age 9) is the one that did a majority of the sewing. I did cut the strips, because I used the rotary cutter for a fast cut and I did fill the pockets with the water beads for her. But, the stitching was all her.

I used this blogger's tutorial: She has pictures and stuff. I will give you the basic rundown, but if you want pictures, please click.


  • fabric measuring 4'x36" for adults 3 1/2"x36" for kids (I used 4" for all... my "kid" is almost 10 and 5'2")
  • DRY water beads (don't get the ones already plumped up and try to get them in there... h.e.a.d.a.c.h.e!)
  • coordinating thread (or contrasting if that's how you roll)
  • sewing machine
  • pins
  • scissors
  • ruler


  1. Cut fabric to appropriate length and width based on measurements given above. 
  2. Fold in half with right sides of material together, so you have a long strip 2"x 36" (1 3/4"x36" for kids). Pin in place.
  3. Sew 1/4" seam the length of strip and turn out. (This is the fun part...)
  4. Fold your tube in half widthwise to find the middle. Mark it and sew across width-wise.
  5. At this point, I measured and marked with a chalk pencil where my other sewing lines would be. Measure out from the middle 4" and mark on each side of the seam. Measure out 8" from the middle seam and mark in both directions. You will end up with 4 more lines for sewing and 4 pockets that will contain the water beads. 
  6. Measure and dump into the tube on one side of the middle seam 1/4" teaspoon water beads (you are going both ways, so it doesn't matter which you do first, just not both or you'll spill them! and DON'T decide to toss in an extra amount of beads unless you adjust the length of your pocket. Really 1/4" teaspoon is ALL you need.). Work the beads all the way down and then sew the seam you marked in step 5 to seal them in. No one wants beads going wild... keep them under control.
  7. Repeat 6 for the remaining 3 pocket areas. 
  8. Turn in the ends of the tube on each end and stitch shut for a finished look. 

The day or night before you want to use them:

  1. Soak in a bowl of room temperature water for about 20 minutes. Cold water is slow. 
  2. Squish the beads around to disperse evenly in pockets. 
  3. Soak for another 20 minutes.
  4. Dump the water out and store in the refrigerator to chill. DO NOT FREEZE!
  5. Tie on your neck and you will be chillin'. 

Here are a few tricks we did that helped us out, too.

  • I purchased my dry water beads at Wal-Mart for about $4 and one bag did 7 neck coolers. I didn't shop around, because I just wanted to get them and do the project. 
  • I did soak them in the water until plump. Then, I stored them in the refrigerator in a large bowl (no lid). She said a plate, but I wanted them contained. 
  • For camp, we each had two. I used a gallon ziploc and tossed in a coolie pack (you know those frozen ice packs for lunches) and stored the one that wasn't on my neck in the ziploc bag in my backpack. Then, throughout each day at camp I would just switch when the one on my neck was no longer cool enough for me. You do NOT want to freeze them, but the ice pack wasn't powerful enough to do any damage, yet it was great to keep the extra cool for me when I wanted it. 
  • The girl discovered that placing it on your forehead really helps cool you down, as well. 
  • They take about 2 weeks to totally dry out and then can be stored flat until the next time you need them. 

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