DIY Neck Cooling Scarf | Easy Sewing Tutorial

neck cooling scarf youmakeitsimple.com

When it’s hot and you need to keep cool, this DIY neck cooling scarf works like a charm. The scarf is made of simple cotton fabric and filled with water beads. These polymer crystals or water beads are quite amazing and when soaked will plump up with water, expand and then release the moisture slowly. That’s what makes this cooling scarf so nice is that it will stay wet and applies gentle moisture to your skin that keeps you cool for hours.

This is a very simple sewing project that even a beginner seamstress can handle. Making a neck cooling scarf will only take you about ten minutes to make, and it only takes a minimal amount of fabric. These are great to wear when you are working outside, or inside and can be worn by adults and children.

What types of water beads/crystal are best to use?

There are lots of varieties out there. The “crystals” are very small chunks that almost looks like a powder, while the “beads” are smooth spheres. I like to use spherical beads for comfort and ease of use, and some say that the small crystal powder can absorb into the fabric. You will be AMAZED at how the big the beads plump up when soaked in water. One teaspoon turns into 3-4 cups once soaked!

You can find the beads in most craft stores, floral shops and even some hardware stores will sell them in the garden section. They were all sold out in the stores in my location, so I bought them on-line and was very pleased with this brand. (clear beads) (colored beads)

You can find the beads in most craft stores, floral shops and even some hardware stores will sell them in the garden section. They were all sold out in the stores in my location, so I bought them on-line and was very pleased with this brand. (clear beads) (colored beads)

Neck Cooling Scarf Materials & Items Needed

  • Water beads or water crystals
  • Cotton fabric
  • Scissors/rotary cutter (optional)
  • Sewing machine
  • Iron
  • Pins/ fabric clips
  • Measuring tape
  • Cookie sheet (to keep the beads from going all over the place)

Neck Cooling Scarf Instructions

1-Hydrate the beads.

If you are using beads, hydrate them before placing them into the scarf. There are so many different sizes of beads that it’s hard to know how much they are going to expand. If you fill the scarf tool full they can expand too much and pop the seams.

If you are using the crystals you can apply the powder before soaking. JUST REMEMBER YOU’LL ONLY NEED JUST A LITTLE BIT! 1 teaspoon of powder, split into different pockets.

neck cooling scarfThe bead to water ratio is 1 teaspoon/3 cups water. Get a big bowl or tub to put them in. It may take a few hours for them to hydrate completely. I like to soak my beads the night before I plan on sewing.

neck cooling scarf cutting fabric

2 -Cut a piece of cotton fabric 4.5/10 cm x 42-44/112 cm inches.

Most bolts of cotton fabric are 42-44 inches wide, so just cut a strip of fabric 4.5 inches.neck cooling scarf cutting ends

3 -Fold the long edges of the fabric strip in half and CUT OFF THE SELVAGE EDGES AT A 45° ANGLE to form a taped edge.

4 -Open up the strip and fold in half again with the RIGHT SIDES FACING EACH OTHER.]

5 -Pin or clip in place.

You are going to leave a space un-sewn about 4 inches/10cm long to turn to the scarf. Find the center and mark that 4 inch space so you don’t forget and sew.

red clips
neck cooling scarf tip
neck cooling scarf sewing

6 -Sew together.

Using a straight stitch, start sewing at one tapered edge and sew all the way around to the other end. DON’T FORGET TO LEAVE THE OPENING. When you come to the red clip, backstitch and then lift up your presser foot and move to the next red clip. Backstitch and continue to sew the rest of the seam backstitching at the end.

7 -Clip corners.

neck cooling scarf turning

8 -Using a turning stick, turn the tube right sides out.

9 -Press seams out.

Fold the seam allowance under where you left the opening and press in place.

10 -Fold the scarf in half and measure 10.5 inches/27 cm from the fold and mark both layers with a pin.

This is where you will stitch the scarf to create the pocket that will hold the beads. You don’t want the whole scarf to be filled with beads, just the portion that wraps around the neck. (Some folks like to make 3 separate pockets, and this works well if you are using the powder, but if you are using the beads, I find it’s not necessary and only takes more time).

11 -Sew vertical seams

Sew two seams where you marked with pins. Backstitch at the beginning and end of seam.

neck cooling scarf filling with beads

12 -Fill scarf with beads.

Now it’s time to fill the scarf with beads. Place a cookie sheet under your workspace so you don’t have beads rolling all over the place. YOU DON’T WANT PETS OR CHILDREN INGESTING THESE BEADS!!!! You can use a funnel that will fit the beads, but I find that you can just grab a handful and feed them into the hole you left. Fill one side and then the other. Don’t overfill as they may expand a little more and pop the seam.

13 -Sew the opening closed.

Once the scarf is full, place the opening edges together and clip in place. You can hand-sew the opening closed or I use the sewing machine. I prefer using a 1/8 inch seam allowance on the sewing machine, it’s much quicker.

14 -Clips threads and you’re finished.

neck cooling scarf soaking

15 -How to soak and hydrate the neck cooling scarf

The beads will eventually dry up, but it takes several days. To re-activate the neck cooling scarf, just soak the entire thing in water for a couple hours. If you want to dry it out, just leave it in the sun. The beads will shrivel up to almost nothing, allowing you to store the wrap flat until the next time you need it.

Some friends and I are currently making a bunch of these up and taking them to the homeless shelter all hydrated and cooled. Perhaps this could be a project for those in your own community who are out in this heat; just a little way to give back.

Get in your fabric stash and make a few neck cooling scarves for yourself, family and those in need.

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T-Shirt to Tank Top | Binding Tips and Tricks

t-shirt to tank top youmakeitsimple.com

It’s summertime and wearing a cool tank top can be very inviting. In this tutorial, I am going to show you how you can easily take a t-shirt and make it into a tank top. This post is full of great tips and tricks for adding binding to the armholes and neckband. This is such a fun way to upcycle an ordinary t-shirt into a unique tank top.

Most of you know how I love upcycling t-shirts. The simple stretchy fabric of a t-shirt can come in handy for making so many other things.

So if you have a t-shirt that has some good stretch to it, fun colors, or cute print, don’t throw it out. USE IT.

Here is a post with some good tips for upcycling t-shirts.

 

HOW TO MAKE A TANK TOP FROM A T-SHIRT

I am going to go over several different styles and ways to make a tank top.

  • Basic work-out tank with cut armholes
  • Rolled hem method
  • Knit binding method

BONUSES: How to add binding to t-shirt sleeve edge, and how to apply a tag or label.

There are so many options and the variety and the color combinations are limitless. So get out your creative bones and have fun making tank tops.

TANK TOP ITEMS AND MATERIALS NEEDED

If you have an existing tank top that you like that fits well, you can use that as a template of where to cut the armholes and neckband. If you don’t, start cutting the holes bigger and then try it on. You can always cut off more, but you CAN’T add fabric back after you cut.

BASIC CUT ARMHOLE TANK TOP INSTRUCTIONS

Turn the t-shirt wrong side out.

If you’re using an existing tank top as a template, lay the tank on top of your t-shirt. Line up the shoulder seams. Most likely the armholes of the tank will be smaller than the t-shirt. No worries.

Using the chalk pen or erasable pen, trace the armhole of one side of the shirt. You can just eyeball where you want to cut.

Cut out that armhole. Fold the shirt in half, lining up shoulder and side seams, and cut out the other armhole using the previous cut as a guide.

You can leave it like this, BECAUSE KNIT FABRIC WILL NOT FRAY.

TANK TOP ROLLED HEM METHOD

If you want to finish the armholes with a rolled hem, I recommend cutting the sleeve off OUTSIDE THE SLEEVE SEAM, leaving about a ¼ “ from the seam. (This will give the armhole a little reinforcement and feel like you’ve added binding to it). But if you want a deeper cut, you can do that as well and it will still work out fine.

I RECOMMEND TRYING ON THE SHIRT BEFORE CUTTING, JUST TO MAKE SURE IT FITS WELL AND CUT WHERE YOU WANT IT TO BE! (If the armholes are a little gappy and loose, just note that after you hem or add binding, it will pull and be more fitted).

Once the sleeves are cut off, all you need to do is fold the fabric edge over the sleeve seam (1/4 inch) and then fold it over again.

Thread your sewing machine with the same color of thread as the t-shirt. Starting at the underarm seam, sew all the way around using a straight stitch. Sew just inside the outer fold to hold in place.

Do this for both tank top armholes.

GATHERED SHOULDER TANK TOP

If the shoulders seam too wide and you want to bring them in a little, you can add a little gather to the shoulder seam as I have in this photo.

gathering tank top shouldersSimply take a needle, double the thread, knot the end, and take two rows of big gathering stitches to gather to your liking. Knot to secure in place.

tank top shoulder bowYou can also use a ribbon to gather the shoulders by tying a bow around the shoulder top and tacking in place with a needle and thread.

 

HOW TO ADD BINDING TO THE TANK TOP ARMHOLES AND NECK

Using stretchy knit fabric strips from other upcycle knit clothing can add a lot of character to your tank tops. CHECK OUT MY POST AND VIDEO ON BINDING.

Decide where you want to cut the armholes.

Cut out and try the tank top on to make sure that is where you want things to be.

 

Measure the armhole, starting at the shoulder seam and go down to the side seam. DOUBLE THAT MEASUREMENT AND THEN SUBTRACT 1 INCH. This will be the length to cut the armhole binding.

tank top binding stripsCut 2-inch strips, on the stretch of your binding fabric. Cut them to the armhole measurement. (If you don’t have strips long enough, you can piece them together. WATCH MY TUTORIAL ON HOW TO DO THAT HERE.

Place the strips RIGHT SIDES TOGETHER and sew the short ends together using a ¼ – 3/8 inch seam allowance to form a ring. Do this for both strips.

Fold the rings in half to find the halfway point and mark with a pin.

Do the same thing with the armholes. Find the halfway point from the side seam and mark with a pin. It’s not always going to be the shoulder seam. Most likely it’s a little off to the side.

Now you’re ready to sew the binding to the tank top.

With the shirt WRONG SIDE OUT, line up the binding seam with the side seam. Pin that in place. Line up the halfway points and pin them in place. The binding piece will be shorter than the tank top piece, so you will be stretching the binding slightly as you sew.

You can pin ¼ points, but I usually don’t. Take it to the sewing machine and starting at the underarm seam, sew all the way around. Use a 3/8 inch seam allowance and a regular straight stitch. Backstitch at the beginning and end of the seam.

I LOVE USING THIS TECHNIQUE TO BIND ALL KINDS OF PROJECTS: blankets, slippers, and other clothing items.

Fold the binding over to the WRONG side with the seam finger pressed outward and toward binding. Pin or clip in place all the way around. (Make sure the seam is enclosed in the binding).

TANK TOP STITCH IN THE DITCHOn the TOPSIDE, stitch in the ditch, which is the point where the shirt meets the binding. Turn your sewing machine handwheel toward you, bringing the needle down to make sure it is placed in that crevice. Start sewing. Ease and stretch the fabric slightly as you sew. Backstitch at the end.

There may be a lot of excess fabric, no worries. (Better to have too much fabric than not enough).

VERY CAREFULLY take your scissors and trim the excess fabric close to the seam. Be careful NOT to cut the fabric underneath! No need to worry, the fabric will not fray.

tank top bindingTadah! There you have a nice professional-looking finish to your armhole.

tank top neck bindingYou can do this in the same manner for the neck if you want.

ADDING BINDING TO A SLEEVE EDGE

You can add binding to a t-shirt sleeve edge to give character and contrast. This really adds a lot of charm to a basic t-shirt and something you don’t see every day.

You pretty much just follow the same procedure that you would for an armhole.

  • Measure the sleeve opening, x 2, subtract 1 inch. Cut the binding 2 inches x length.
  • Find halfway points
  • Pin in place.
  • Sew
  • Wrap binding around seam
  • Stitch in-the-ditch
  • Trim binding

BONUS: HOW TO ADD LABEL OR TAG

Adding a cute little tag is optional of course, but another way to customize your clothing. Get more information about how to make your own labels HERE. 

Cut out the label and decide where you want to apply it. Some recommended places would be.

  • The outer bottom center of the sleeve
  • Just under the neck binding on the back of the tank top
  • The bottom hem of the tank top

fabric stabilizer interfacingUnless the knit fabric is really thick, you’ll want to reinforce the knit fabric by applying a little piece of INTERFACING, on the backside of the fabric where you want to apply the label. (Follow instructions on stabilizer).

Using a narrow, short zigzag stitch, sew around the label to secure it in place.

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial. Be sure to reach out if you do have questions.

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4 Basic Sewing Machine Seams and Seam Allowance Tips

seams and seam allowances

In this tutorial I am going to go over the basic sewing machine seams and give you some seam allowance tips.

What are seams?

Seams are the building blocks of a clothing item and are the points of connection between fabric pieces. As a beginner seamstress, the first thing you will learn how to do is sew a basic seam. (Sew two pieces of fabric together).

There are several different types of sewing stitches that you can use to make up seams. Be sure to check out my SEW SIMPLE SERIES, A BEGINNERS GUIDE TO SEWING, where I show you all the basic stitches, seams and guide you through several easy sewing projects. (PATTERNS INCLUDED).

seam allowance

What is a seam allowance?

Whenever you sew seams, you’ll have some kind of seam allowance. This is the distance from the seamline to the raw edge of the fabric, which allows the fabric pieces to be durably connected without fraying or coming unsewn.

 

Here are some basic seam allowance “facts” and “rules”

  • The width of the seam allowance depends on the type of fabric and the seam finishing technique used. A thicker, bulkier fabric requires a larger seam allowance while thinner, lightweight fabrics work well with a narrower seam allowance.
  • The most commonly used seam allowance measures 3/8” to ½”.
  • Some seam allowances are finished to ensure seam durability and prevent the raw fabric edges from fraying. Fabrics like knit or polyester do not need to be finished. Here are some simple techniques to finish seams (NO SERGER NEEDED).
  • After the seam is stitched, the seam allowance should always be ironed down in a specified direction in order for the seam to lay flat (you’ll see a demonstration of this in the sewing tutorial video below).
    All conventional sewing machines have a seam allowance guide to the right of the sewing machine needle. In order to sew each seam at the proper seam allowance, the raw edge of the fabric is aligned with the appropriate seam allowance guideline according to the required seam allowance length. In my tutorials, I usually give some great tips on things you can do and use to make following these guides easier.
  • Most patterns will give you the SEAM ALLOWANCE requirements and measurement for that specific project. If it doesn’t, use the standard 3/8 inch seam allowance. (This by the way is just the edge of your normal presser foot).

BASIC 3/8 INCH SEAMS INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Place the two pieces of fabric you are working with together, matching edges and pin in place. Use the 3/8 inch guide on the top plate of your machine to line up the edges of the fabric, or if your presser foot edge is at that measurement, you can just use the edge of the presser foot as your guide.pressing seams
  2. Sew the seam. Open up the seam allowance and press flat using an iron.

FLAT FELLED SEAMS INSTRUCTIONS

A flat felled seam is basically an overlapping seam that’s sewn flat. When the seam is complete, there are no raw edges showing. It’s used frequently in menswear because it’s extremely durable and sturdy and provides a neat finish. If you’re wearing jeans, take a look at the seams. They are almost certainly flat-felled. Use a flat felled seam on shirts or trousers, which see a lot of stress, and you’ll get a durable finish.

Here’s how to go about sewing a flat felled seam.

  1. Pin fabric with right sides together. You will be using a 5/8 inch seam allowance. tape seam allowance guideI like to place a piece of masking or painter’s tape onto the sewing plate at the 5/8 inch mark. This will help you see more clearly and help you guide the fabric along as you sew.pressing seam allowance
  2. Instead of pressing the seam open, you’re going to fold the seam allowance to one side and press.flat felled seam stitching
  3. Flip the fabric over to the right side. Now sew a straight line on the side that the seam allowance is pressed to.1/8 inch seam allowance
  4. Sew 1/8 inch from the seam line fold. TIP: Most presser feet will have little notches indicating 1/8 inch marks. This is nice to use this feature when sewing this seam. Simple line the fabric up with that right 1/8 inch guide and sew away.

FINISHED FLAT FELLED SEAMS INSTRUCTIONS

trimming seam allowance

  1. Sew the seam with a ½ seam allowance. Before pressing the seam, take your scissors and trim away ¼ inch from the right seam allowance.pressing seam allowance
  2. Fold the uncut seam allowance over the cut seam allowance and press in place.
  3. Now fold the top seam allowance under ¼ inch encasing the cut allowance. Press in place.
  4. Topstitch in place along the folded edge to secure in place.

FRENCH SEAMS INSTRUCTIONS

French seams are perfect to use on lightweight, sheer fabrics, or lace. I like using this seam when I make pillowcases. The seam encasing all of the fraying fabric edges inside a tiny seam allowance of 1/4″ (5mm). French seams can be great to use if you haven’t got an overlocker (serger) and want to create a perfect finish to your project.

  1. When sewing a French seam, you start by placing WRONG SIDES OF THE FABRIC TOGETHER, instead of right sides together.French seam 1/4 inch seam
  2. Sew the first seam using a ¼ inch seam allowance. Then, fold the fabric along the seam line, so the right sides of the fabric are together and the stitching is at the edge of the fold. Press well, so you are working with a sharp crease at the fold on the seam. You may want to pin the fabric edge, especially if you are using a slippery fabric.3/8 inch seam allowance
  3. Now sew another seam using a 3/8 inch seam allowance.

     

  4. Press the finished seam to one side or the other.

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There you have it, 4 basic seams for you to use.

HINT: my SEW SIMPLE COURSE COMES WITH INSTRUCTIONS AND MEASUREMENTS FOR ALL SIZES OF PILLOWCASES.

OTHER BLOG POSTS YOU MAY BE INTERESTED IN:

7 Sewing Machine Presser Feet and How To Use Them

Unpicking Serger Stitches the EASY WAY

SEWING BY HAND | Most Important Stitches to Know

Have fun sewing my friends!

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DIY Upcycled T Shirt Bags | Sew and No-Sew Methods

DIY Upcycled T Shirt Bags

Recycling and upcycling is one of my passions, and making these t-shirt bags is another way to reduce waste and find another use for unwanted clothing. I love these bags! They make great grocery bags, activity bags, and you can even use them as a purse if you want. You will be surprised how durable they are!!

Making and using these DIY T-Shirt bags is great way to reduce waste and recycle unwanted clothing. They make great grocery bags, activity bags, and you can even use them as a purse if you want. You will be surprised how durable they are!!

These bags are super easy and quick to make (10 minutes), and it will help to reduce the pollution of shopping bags. Did you know that one hundred billion grocery bags are used in the United States each year?  This means that the average American family gets 1,500 bags from shopping trips. That’s NOT OK!

That’s a lot of bags. Even if they make it into the garbage, 100 billion bags take up space. Whether they’re stuck in a tree, floating in the breeze or sitting in a trash pile, these bags don’t decompose. Because they’re made from petroleum, toxic chemicals can seep into soil and water.

 

Pollution on land is a problem, but what about these bags when they get in the ocean?  It’s dangerous to animals. Sea turtles, marine mammals and fish confuse the bags with prey, such as jellyfish, and eat the plastic imposters. Ingestion of these bags can lead to malnutrition, and eventually, starvation. Bags can also become caught on waterfowl or coral and wrap around the animals, causing injury or death.

Ok, I think you get the picture. Making and using these upcycled t-shirt bags will help reduce plastic bag pollution. I love that, and I love upcycling t-shirts as most of you know.

I am going to show you two different methods. A no-sew method (in case you don’t have access to a sewing machine) and a simple sewing method.  I prefer the sewing method myself because it is a lot faster!

Let’s jump right into the tutorial.

Upcycled T-Shirt Items & Materials Needed

  • T-shirt
  • Scissors
  • Masking tape (optional no-sew method)
  • Sewing machine/serger (sewing method)
  • Fabric clips/pins (sewing method)

T-Shirt Bag Instructions

NO-SEW METHOD

  • Turn the t-shirt wrong side out.
  • Cut off the sleeve just inside the arm seam.
  • Fold the shirt in half lengthwise.
  • Cut out the bag opening by cutting a deeper neck line. (About the depth of the armholes).
  • Decide how deep you want the bag to be +3 inches/7.5 cm. Cut the bottom off if you want it shorter. You’ll really only need to shorten if you are using a very larger t-shirt.
  • Measure 3 inches/7.5 cm from the bottom of the shirt, take a piece of masking tape or painter’s tape and apply it to the shirt to mark this point.
  • Cut little slits along the bottom of the shirt up to the tape line, ½ -3/4 inches/1 cm apart.
  • Starting from one side, tie one strip from the front to the adjacent strip on the back in a double knot. Continue tying knots until the bottom is all tied.

There will be little holes between the knots. To close those up, take one tie from the first knot and tie it to one of the ties of the second knot in a diagonal manner. Do this to all the knots.

Reinforce the end knots by tying them again.

Flip right side out and there you have it.

T-Shirt Bag Sewing Method

  • Follow the steps for the no-sew method, but instead of cutting the strips, simply sew the bottom closed.

 

  • Set your sewing machine to a LIGHTNING BOLT STITCH or SMALL ZIGZAG STITCH. (SHORT & NARROW).

You can use a serger if you have one.

  • Make a tuck/pleat in the bottom of the bag by folding the sides of the shirt over about 4 inches/10 cm. Clip or pin in place.
  • Use about a ½ inch seam allowance. Sew across the bottom, backstitching at the beginning and end of the seam.
  • Turn right side out and ta-dah you’re all finished. Such an easy project.

Get in your closet and find some t-shirts you no longer want or need and MAKE T-shirt BAGS!

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