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)
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.
The 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.