Cooling Bandana Ties
by Laura B.
Construct your bandanas using colorful Disney fabrics, and wear them on steamy hot days when touring the parks.
I have never actually seen one! I’ve looked at them on a few sites, and then just started sewing. Since I’ve never seen one, I don’t really know exactly what they are supposed to look like, how they are constructed, what the fabric is, or how much water crystals they have in them. These are some of the places I saw them:
I really do not know how to sew! My sewing instruction consists of limited instruction during a middle school home economics class many years ago. I have a sewing machine that someone gave me for free (remember my Dollarless nature!) that is probably over 40 years old. It does nothing but a straight stitch, and that’s with a bit of coaxing!
Undeterred by these factors, I picked up the necessary supplies. I bought some Disney fabrics. The critical component is the watering crystals. The brand I purchased at Target is Schultz Moisture Plus. Watering crystals are cross-linked Polyacrylamide Crystals, which are used to help keep soil moist, they absorb water and release it slowly. They expand to many, many times their original size as they absorb water. I have also seen other brands of watering crystals at garden stores, or in the gardening section of stores. They are not inexpensive, and you only need a tiny bit for the bandanas. I think I paid $8 for a 12 oz container, and used it in my potted containers outside as well as making ten bandanas, and used maybe one fifth of the container. As an aside, one of my kids received a science kit last year for his birthday called "Water Jelly Crystals" which contained these crystals. So they are fun for experimenting as well, and presumably safe for use around kids, although I would watch kids around them since they might be mistaken for candy in either of their forms (crystal or jelly). The kit explains the crystals change into "slimey chunks of room temperature ice" and I’d say that describes it pretty well. So if you have kids, let them take a few crystals and add water and watch them grow (leave them for a few hours to really get the effect). They can add food coloring and make them different colors, too.
I’m sorry my sewing instructions are going to be very vague. I had seen the measurements 40" x 2" somewhere, and that was my starting point. I made them all about 2" wide, and the length varied (shorter for the kids, longer for adults). I did some with square ends, and some a bit tapered. For most of them I put the crystals only in the center section, in an area to match the circumference of the person’s neck (so bigger for the adults, smaller for the kids). This results in the crystals being in a center section, and the ends are free for tying.
I don’t know much sewing lingo, and if I could figure this out I think most people could, but what I did was to pin the fabric inside out, sew one end and the long edge, turn it right side out, sew a line across where I wanted the crystal section to start, put in the crystals (1/4 to 1/2 tsp), sew across the end of the crystal section, and then sew the last end up.
I’m really not sure what the ideal amount of crystals to use is, since I’ve never seen a "real" one in person I didn’t have much to go on. The first ones I did I used about 1 teaspoon and they seemed to expand too much, so I cut down for the later ones. However, I didn’t want to expand them all to check them, so I won’t really know until after our trip if they work properly or not!
To use the bandanas, soak them in cool water for a half hour and then tie them around your neck. As the crystals soak in the water they will absorb water and swell in size. During the day as the crystals release water through evaporation there will be a cooling effect. This should last throughout the day, although turning the bandana can provide additional relief, as can re-soaking the bandana in cool water. Some people carry along a zip-top bag, and occasionally add some ice water and put the bandanas in to refresh. They can be reused; it may take some time for them to dry out completely. They should not be frozen.
Here's a tip from MFL member, Arlene Rose: After you sew the line and add some of the crystals, sew another line and add some more. Dividing the area with the crystals keeps them from clumping in one spot. Mine [store bought] has a 3" section then a 3" area that is split down the middle and filled on both sides, then another 3" section.
And MFL member, Bridget Baker tells us that she was able to make 4 bandanas using 1/4 yard of material. She also says that she, "actually measured out the crystals and used 1/2 tbs for each 40" bandanna."
The photo above shows two of the bandanas; the pencil is pointing to the start of the center crystal filled area on one of them. The picture below shows Will wearing one of the bandanas, acting goofy as usual.
Will modeling his Lion King bandana