CoolDown Neck Wrap, with a sleek modern look

Even without a medical condition, the summer months carry a risk of heat exhaustion and heat stroke. With an illness that causes heat sensitivity, summer can be the worst time of the year.

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.
Remove these adsRemove these ads by Signing Up

Step 1: What You Will Need

I made three scarves for less than $7 using materials that I already had on hand, but even if you had to purchase all of the materials, it would still only cost about $15-$20 for enough to make three scarves (purchasing ready-made scarves for the project instead of the fabric to make your own will add about an additional $8 or more per scarf to the project).

  • Scissors (I also recommend using pinking shear for cutting fabric)
  • Ruler
  • 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.

The sodium acetate crystals would need to be enclosed in waterproof material. It's used in potting mix and the cooling bandannas worn outdoors. A tablespoon of crystals will gel up to a quart of water. We froze them in a Bundt pan to use when working on the roof.

Juleshb4 days ago
Yay! I have been wearing non-sewn versions of these, but these instructions will help me make some good permanent additions. (I have MS too). Is it Fall yet? :)
ojsefg12 days ago
turbonegro4 years ago
Instead of using ice
You could use water absorbing crystals like these
The crystals are also available from ebay
SomethingGood332 (author)  turbonegro4 years ago
Have you used one of these before? I'm curious about how crystal soaked in water would be for not getting my clothes wet. It's something to play around with - couldn't hurt. Thanks for the tip!