Most guys understand the inability to cool down at the end of a long work day during the summer. Most guys also like the feel of a decently heavy blanket over them to help them sleep. However, you can't be cool and have a heavy blanket unless it's friggin' freezing in the rest of the room.
You basically feel akin to Mr. Freeze.
Last week our AC was out, so my wife devised a way to make a quilt-like blanket that holds ICE PACKS! It's the ultimate heavy blanket, but keeps you cold at the same time. The other benefit is that during winter, she could heat the packs and create a warm blanket too. Overall, we both win during opposing seasons.
Things you'll need:
Fabric, something warm and comfortable, we used cotton and an old flannel sheet.
Batting (think sheets of cotton balls, used for padding)
Ice packs (somewhere between 10 and 40)
Sewing method (Machines in this case)
Generic sewing pieces (scissors, thread, pins, buttons, iron, etc)
Not terribly difficult overall, but time consuming. However, with the ability to lay and be chilled during hot summer months? It's worth it!
Also, I managed to talk my wife into trying this in her Etsy shop. If you want to get your own click the link here.
Step 1: Making the Master Pattern
Dara, my wife, has been pattern making in textiles fields for a very long time, so whipping this up was pretty easy for her.
You'll need measurements of what you want to cover with the blanket, and you'll need measurements of the ice packs you've chosen. We had a set of fairly standard 4x10 ice packs, and I had an old flannel blanket that was big enough folded in half.
Overall, there was enough room for ~40 ice packs; so, 40 pockets across a blanket that would end up being about the size of a twin bed.
Step 2: Gather Supplies
One of the biggest keys to a successful large project (size, not complexity) is gathering all the necessary parts so you don't realize you missed something halfway through.
A large table or flat, smooth surface will help with cutting. Trust me, it takes a while to cut all the pockets by hand. Grab some decent music and a large pitcher of something to drink.
You Will Need:
Fabric (Flannel 4-6 Yards is AWESOME for lumber jacks)
Step 3: Cutting the Fabric
You have plenty of pockets to cut. This pattern makes it so that the bottom of one pocket is the cover-flap for the next pocket. Which means that the top row of pockets needs to have their own flaps above them with no pockets involved.
You'll also need the main part of the blanket. You'll need two very large pieces for the "blanket" portion to sandwich some protective batting in between. It will insulate a little against the cold from the ice packs, but a little insulation is better than a little frost bite or hypothermia. Crazy and cold natured, not entirely stupid.
This will need 40 pieces for the pockets and seven top flaps for the first row.
You'll likely need to take a break every now and then. I'm used to cutting and my hands got sore after a while. If you can cut multiple layers at a time it will go a lot faster.
Step 4: Sewing Smaller Pieces
The flaps and the pockets all require a little sewing to look good. Plus ironing. Lots of ironing.
Iron the flaps down first. Both the free-floating flaps and the flaps at the bottom of the pockets. The easiest thing to do is fold the full pocket in half, then fold one half in half again. This will double half the pocket over on itself and create a nice little flap. For the just-flap ones, fold them in half and you'll be fine.
Ironing between each step before sewing will make it a whole lot easier. You'll have fold lines, and the fabric will be more likely to stay after being pressed.
Dara sewed the outside lining, then inverted it and sewed the same line so that it lays flatter. I'm sure there are some technical terms for what she did, but that's about the only way I can describe it. Key thing? Flaps. Adding finishing stitches helps keep it together and makes it a lot smoother.
Step 5: Flannel Sandwich
Not the lumberjack fantasy kind, you just sandwich the batting between two layers of fabric. Easy enough, however, lining it up is the difficult part. When you're working with 4'x7' pieces of fabric, it can tend to move, especially with the batting in between.
Sandwich everything, then take some fairly large pins to hold it together while you're sewing it together.
Not an overly difficult step, but it might help to have a second set of hands.
Step 6: Make Button Holes
For these pockets we used buttons to seal them. Zippers tend to stick me when I sleep on, around or near them, so I asked for buttons. Button holes are tedious in and of themselves, but luckily Dara has a machine that does most of the work for her.
This is a step best done before you attach them to the blanket.
Step 7: Sew the Pockets Onto the Back/Top of the Sheet
Now for the fun and lengthy process. Dara sewed all the pockets into strips that run the full length of the blanket, so all she would have to do is sew one long line at a time. Easy for her, but most people might have to sew one at a time by hand or with a home machine.
By the end, it will almost look like one of those wall hanger pocket holders for such things as fishing equipment.
Step 8: Add Binding Around Outside
Binding helps hold the entire thing together, and gives it a little more structure. Plus it makes the edges of the blanket softer. Not unlike pet blankets that have edging.
Let's all face it. Guys are basically big dogs. We like the cold and lounging around being comfortable. This is the perfect project to show this aspect.
Step 9: Button, Button, Who's Got the Button?
Now to sew all the buttons on. There's no fancy piece of equipment (that I know of) that can add buttons, so this is a hand-stitch part. Plus, it's a lot easier when all the pockets are already on the blanket. Adding the buttons shouldn't take too long for each of them, but you might want to have something going in the background that you can listen to absently and not have your brain go numb.
Step 10: The Iceman Cometh
Now for all the ice packs. If you've left them in the freezer for the entire time you've been working. They should be suitably below freezing and ready to be put in the pockets.
Sit back, relax, and go watch Batman & Robin.