I have multiple sclerosis, and even a brief walk from my car in the the summer heat can cause dizziness, disorientation, and extreme fatigue. I keep my body temperature down by rolling ice cubes up in a towel and wrapping the towel around my neck. While this trick does make summer more bearable, as the ice cubes melt, my shirt gets soaking wet, so it is not something I can do if I need to be in public.
I searched online for commercially available cooling neck bands, but these are incredibly expensive for what they are – basically an ice pack wrapped in fabric – and have a "medical" look to them that is visible when worn.
Many organizations (including the business school I attend) are saving energy by skimping on air conditioning. I needed some way to keep cool while still looking professional and without spending a lot of money, so my sister and I designed our own cooling scarves.
Step 1: What You Will Need
- Scissors (I also recommend using pinking shear for cutting fabric)
- Thread and sewing materials (for machine- or hand-sewing)
- Tailor's chalk, washable marker, or tempura paint and a fine brush for marking fabric
- Iron with low-temp settings
- Sewing machine safe fabric glue that will wash out, such as Aleene's No Sew Fabric Glue
- For the scarf or band itself, you will need lightweight cloth that has the look you want to achieve. A commercial bandanna or light scarf of sheer fabric, or even a button-up shirt (ice pouch would attach to the collar, inside the shirt) can be used - skip Step 5: Preparing the Scarf if using a ready-made item. Two fabric options are:
- A square of cotton or other soft, lightweight fabric approximately 24"×24"
- Sheer material such as viscose rayon or organdy, the length of the bolt (usually either 45" or 60") by 12-18", depending on the width desired
- Ice sheet (also called ice blanket or ice wrap) with individuals ice square that are no larger than 2"×2" each, with the whole sheet about 10" wide. There should be enough space to cut between the squares of ice
- Insulated material, such as an old lunch bag or reusable shopping bag
- Skin-tone cotton fabric, about ¼ yd (it only needs to be skin-tone if the scarf fabric is pale or sheer enough to see through; otherwise, you can use any old scrap that you have lying around)
- Absorbent fabric, such as flannel, that is soft enough to be comfortable against the skin, about ½ yd for a single layer, or 1 yd for a double layer. We used a double-layer of an old baby blanket, which was enough to make all three ice pouches
- Skin-tone bias tape, extra-wide double-fold, a 3-yard pack
TIP: Choose materials that are as flexible as possible, otherwise the band can be too stiff to allow easy head movement.