Cooling Scarf: Look Good and Stay Cool




Introduction: Cooling Scarf: Look Good and Stay Cool

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Ug, it's hot! Make yourself a Cooling Scarf to help get you through those summer days. This design uses a center panel with sewn channels to keep the water beads where you need them, and creates fancy pointed tails for tying in a jaunty knot. Try out this easy sewing project and stay cool at your next ball game, barbecue, or beach day.

You'll need:

  • 9"x45" piece of cotton fabric, or a 1/4 yard cut. This fabric is typically sold on a 45" wide bolt, so you can make 4 scarves out of a 1 yard cut. Quilting fabric or any other lightweight, woven cotton fabric will work just fine.
  • Water Crystals or Water Beads for potted plants. Look for these in the garden section of the hardware store. Each scarf will use less than 1 teaspoon of beads, so one bag will make lots of scarves!
  • Thread
  • Large bowl of cold water


  • Sewing machine
  • Disappearing marking pen or wash-out quilting pencil
  • Fabric scissors
  • Iron & ironing board
  • Ruler
  • Sewing pins

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Step 1: Sewing the Main Tube

First, pre-wash and machine dry your fabric. This will keep your finished scarf from shrinking, and remove excess dye that might run when you soak your scarf. Iron out any wrinkles, then cut your fabric to size. Don't worry if the length is a little off, it just needs to be about 45" long.

Sewing the main tube

  • Lay your fabric right side up (the side with the brightest pattern), then fold it in half longways. The wrong side of the fabric is now showing. Press the fold.
  • To make fancy pointed ends, draw a 45 degree line from one corner to the inside edge. The lines should both slant inward. This is a sewing line, so make sure to cut the excess fabric off 1/2" outside this line.
  • Looking at the wrong side of the fabric, pin one short end and one long end closed. Sew the short, slanted end closed on the line you drew. Now sew the long edge closed, with a 1/2" seam allowance.
  • Now you should have a flat tube, with one of the short ends still open. Press the seams and trim the seam allowance on the slanted end at the corners to help them turn more easily.
  • Turn the tube inside out, making sure to get the pointy end turned all the way. Press flat.

Your scarf should now measure about 4" wide.

Step 2: Adding Center Panel and Channels for Water Beads

Now you'll make the center neck panel that holds the water beads. I made my center panel 17" long.

  • Fold your tube in half (short end to short end) and mark that point with a pin. Measure 8.5" on each side of that mark, and put pins in to mark those spots, giving you a centered 17" panel. Using your disappearing marking pen, draw a line across the width of the scarf at each end of your center panel.
  • Sew one of the lines you just drew shut, making sure it's closest to the end of the scarf that's already sewn shut.
  • Mark horizontal lines about 1" apart for the channels, then sew on those lines. Stop when you reach the other end of the channel marking.

Make sure your channel seams fully cross the seams for the center portion, so your beads don't slip out.

Step 3: Add the Water Beads and Finish

Now to add the water beads and sew 'er up.

  • Fold the open end of your tube back so you can see the ends of the channels you've just sewn. You only need a teensy amount of beads in each channel! I used about 1/8 tsp in each one.
  • Pour your beads into each channel, then shake the tube gently to get the beads out of the path of your sewing machine.
  • Sew the second end of the center channel closed.

Finishing the scarf

  • You have one pointy end of the scarf still open. Iron the 1/2" seam allowance to the inside, then sew the ends shut. All your construction is done!
  • Trim off any thread ends that are sticking out.
  • Place your scarf in a bowl of cool water and let the beads hydrate. Leave it for an hour or two before the first use to make sure all the beads are soaked. You can gently squish the beads around a little to help them spread out along the tube.
  • Gently wring it out, put it on and be cool!

You can re-soak the scarf as needed, or even keep it in the fridge for some extra cooling power.

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    6 Discussions


    4 years ago on Introduction

    Love the idea and from medication for an auto immune and peri menapausal hot flashes, this would be a welcome addition to my wardrobe.

    Do you by chance make and sell them???


    4 years ago

    Neat idea. You should enter the summer contest <3

    My husband had a manufactured one that was great until it began to leak squishy stuff. (Maybe it wasn't supposed to be frozen?)

    In our household, we have two super-absorbent materials that I wonder if could serve the same function as the Miracle Gro stuff: 1) silica gel inserts, saved from packaging for shoes and the like, and 2) the beads used in a aromatic diffuser, whatever they are made of. There's at least another month of summer to try to make this instructable.

    Thanks for sharing!


    4 years ago on Introduction

    Great DIY alternate to commercial versions. One question though, how long does it providing moisture for cooling? I know that in drier climates it will evaporate faster, but what has been your experience for the region where you live?


    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    Hi, you should easily get a day's use out of a thoroughly soaked scarf. It takes 4 or 5 days to fully dry out at my house in San Luis Obsipo, but am planning to take it on a desert road trip and will report back! If you make one, I'd love to see it!