{Tutorial} Make Your Own Cool Tie

I’ve bought quite a few “cool” ties in the past. Last year I stumbled across a tutorial (of course I can’t remember which blog it was on), and made my own. I took crappy
photo’s of it, and by the time I was ready to blog about it–it was mid-October. Although, it was still needed in Florida the rest of the country was starting to break out the winter jackets. I decided to wait, and in doing so I’ve made quite a few since my first attempt. I had family in town from Pittsburgh this past weekend, and made one for each person, so they could use it while
sweating to death galavanting around Disney World. 

1 scrap of fabric; 4 inches wide by 45 inches long (you can make this as short as 30 inches long)
1 tablespoon of Cracked Ice Crystals *You can find this in the floral section at Michael’s for around $5–you should get about 5-6 ties out of one package. 
coordinating thread, straight pins, scissors, tape measure, and iron

Cut your piece of fabric out, fold it in half long wise (right sides together). With a hot iron using steam press the fabric together. Sew a straight stitch along the open end of the fabric (essentially creating a tube). Make sure you leave both ends open–it makes it easier to turn it inside out. 
Once you’ve created the tube, carefully (and patiently) turn the tube inside out. 

Next, you’ll want to measure out your “cool tie”. This cool tie happened to only be 40 inches long, so a good half way point was at the 15 and 25 mark. You’ll want at least 10 inches of space for your cracked ice crystals to expand. Once you’ve pinned this. Sew one of the sides closed. 
Add one tablespoon to the neck tie. Some blogs will recommend only a teaspoon or two, I found that the happy medium is a tablespoon. Trust me after an hour or two of being wet these cracked ice crystals will expand and fill up the entire 10+ inch tube! Once you fill the tube make sure all the crystals are at the bottom of the sewn section. Sew the other side to close the tube along with around the perimeter of the tie itself. *Essentially you will only be sewing around 10 inches. Lastly, you’ll want to sew each of the ends closed. I choose to fold in the fabric, press it with the iron and sew a straight stitch on this cool tie. However, I have sewn a variety of decorative stitches to close them cool ties. 
Finished product!
This is what your final product will look like once you wet it. Take note you will need to soak it in cold water for a few minutes to allow the cracked ice crystals to start to expand. 
At this point the gel had only somewhat expanded in the tie. 

*Here is what it will look like if you put over 1 tablespoon of crystals in the tie. The gels inside the cool tie will keep expanding hours after it’s been wet. It will look like it wants to explode. *Excuse my cell phone picture… I wanted to be able to show you what it looks like fully expanded. **Take a look on the left side of the picture–That’s Mr. Woodsy with his neon green cool tie that he wore as a headband to mock his childhood idols; The Ninja Turtles! 


  1. Jennifer Juniper says:

    My boys need this to cool off during football practice!

  2. allenaim photography and design says:

    I've always made rice packs for warmth, but never ice packs like this…where do you buy the crystals?

    BTW, your sewing machine and my sewing machine must be sisters 🙂

  3. Sarah Forhan says:

    I have never seen anything like this before!! Where have I been?? My son is a baseball catcher and I think this might be exactly what I am looking for, for Spring Clinics. Love it!! ~ BTW, your tutorial was awesome, I really appreciate step-by-step pictures. Thank you!

  4. We bought a few of these at a sports store – I never dreamed you could make them! Thanks so much for sharing! The ones we bought are so plain – your are much more fun! I can't wait to try this!

  5. Amie {Kitty Cats and Airplanes} says:

    July was the hottest month ever recorded where I live, I NEED one of these! Thanks for sharing the tute!

  6. Bella@Bellabeforeandafter.blogspot.com says:

    Very ool Katie.

    I have one that we purchased like 15 years ago or something. I love it, and we often fight over it, he he.

    DUh, just make more, so easy. Thanks!!!

    Hugs, Bella 🙂
    **AMAZE ME AUGUST** @ Bella Before and After Any projects, recipes, diy welcome.
    **PARTY PLANNING TUESDAYS** @ Euro Style Cakes. All your party planning tips, decorations, invitations, and recipes welcome at my NEW party.

  7. We "have" two that were issued to my husband at some point in time but no one can find them… Trust me now that I know where I can find the cracked ice crystals this girl will be making them for Christmas for most of the family!! Thanks for the great idea!!

  8. Amber @ Quilted Euphoria says:

    This is so simple and awesome! I will have to make one immediately! I would love to have you come link this up at my weekend blog party going on now. And while you're there I'd love to have you follow me back. I'm your newest follower! 🙂


  9. How long will these stay cool?

    • Hi Emily, Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment. I use super ice cold water to soak the tie and they typically stay cold for a half hour to an hour depending on how hot it is where you are. We use them for the theme parks here in Orlando, Fl so we typically re-wet them to rejuvenate them every half hour or so. Hope that helps!

  10. Once you’ve used it….meaning soaked it…what do you do with it to dry it out and reuse it???

    • Hi Heidi, thank you for stopping by Sew Woodsy. Yep, you got it. Just let the wet cool tie dry out in your bathroom or a dry place. We live in Florida so it’s too humid for them to dry out outside. It would take days for it to dry where as in the bathroom it pretty much will dry out over night. good luck!

  11. Be sure to hang them up to dry. If you do not, they will mold.
    I have made and sold/donated hundreds of these for years and years.
    Some went ot Iraq and Afghanistan with the Yellow Ribbon
    They are wonderful and whenever I go sight seeing/airshow/
    etc. mine is with me. I keep new ones in a zip lock bag, then keep the bag with me to re-hydrate it with my water bottle. Could not survive
    this hot weather without it.
    Great for gardening, working outside, mailmen, etc.
    I use only 1/2 tsp and it expands nicely.
    At our local craft fair they were selling for $6.
    I buy my crystals at WalMart gardening section. They are used
    to add to soil to keep it moist.

  12. I am a postal worker, and while i have the luxury of being in the AC all summer the 15 mail carriers I work with could benefit from these! I hate to see them suffer in those tin cans they drive (bake) in all day. So thanks I can’t wait to start giving them out!

  13. Jessica says:

    These look like great gifts! What about washing them? By hand in the sink with a little soap?
    Thanks so much!

    • Hi Jessica, I’ve never washed my cool ties… I just rinse them out with water and let them air dry. I definitely would not put them in the washing machine/dryer and I’d be hesitant to put soap on them. Not sure how the chemicals in the crystals would interact with soap! Good luck!

  14. My question is, Do I use 1 tablespoon for the entire thing, or 1 tablespoon every 10?

    • For a ten inch long opening you will want to add 1 tablespoon… however, it expands like crazy as pictured in my last photo. Some other blogs who have made the cool ties only recommend using 1 teaspoon! I hope that helps and I didn’t confuse you more. Have fun making them!

  15. Diane Blum says:

    My quilting group made over 600 of these scarves to send to the troops. We used only 1/4 t in each. They were a perfect size for fitting under their uniform collars. Not sure if the same crystals were used as we bought them on line for about $25/lb
    Sounds inpossible but we got that many out of the one lb! Easy to tie and they did not get thick and cumbersome – like a sausage. Suggested they hydrate them with clean, cool water, rinse in shower using only mild soap, line dry to return to original form and NEVER store wet in plastic.

    • Hi Diane, Thank you for your comments. Congrats on making over 600 for soldiers! I will definitely try your 1/4 tsp technique the next time I make one. I agree with you–these neck ties must be lined dried and never stored in a bag as they will never dry out and mildew.

  16. I have 2 different kinds that I bought in a store. one is great, gets large and most important, it doesn’t get slimy like the other one I bought. do these get slimy using the ice crystals? the good one has beads that feel round inside prior to expanding

  17. Thank you for sharing this with everyone, they look easy to make and a good thing to have on hot days. I have read the many questions but the one I have is will the crystals go back down and can they be used over and over again?

    • Hi Rena, thanks for stopping by Sew Woodsy. Yes, the crystals dry back up and can be used over and over again. I have found though, after consistently using the cool tie for a year that the amount of crystals start to shrink and almost dissipate over time.

  18. Hi,I have been using cool ties for a few yr’s. I think I had a reaction to one…I thought it was from getting some bleach from a frosting kit on my neck. But I wore the cool tie I had been drying out again yesterday & my neck has a red crusty,very sore ,almost like a bad sunburn feeling. I had noticed a musty smell from the cool tie,so I had hung it up to dry.Yesterday I had the same smell from it,I’m thinking maybe it had mold in it & caused this. Have you ever heard of anything like that happening? Thanks,Rhonda Barrett

    • Hi Rhonda, I’m so sorry to read about your allergic reaction (that’s what it sounds like to me). I’ve never heard of any of these symptoms. I would definitely stop using it immediately and either buy or make a new one to see if maybe the old crystals over time gave you this reaction. Then again it could be a chemical from the crystals that are irritating you. I’m not a doctor nor do I know if any of my suggestions will help. Good luck!

  19. Nice looking ties! Love em!

  20. It’s always a good idea to make quite a few of these up at once, and then just throw out any that get funky and grab a new one from the stash. If you take a small cooler with with you and keep good cooler hygiene (no open food in the cooler- everything in plastic), then you can re-dip the cool ties into the cooler to keep them chilly!

  21. I have made many of these. I buy the crystals at the hardware store. A bag of about 1 pound was 12.00. I have made probably 200 ties and I still have crystals. My instructions are exactly the same except it calls for a “scant teaspoon full of crystals”. I do put in a full teaspoon but not more and have had no complaints about the tube not being full enough or not lasting long enough. Good Luck!!

  22. I use these to keep cool, but my mom has the opposite problem. Because of a health problem, she is always cold while the rest of the family is sweating. Do you think if I made one with rice to warm in the microwave it would work on the same principle to warm her up?

    • Hi Tammie–I’ve seen the rice warming bags at craft fairs. I definitely would say its worth a try!

    • YES rice sacks heat real good in the microwave. BEST to use flannel fabric to make your sack with as it retains the heat and also makes it a moist heat. Make your sack and remember only to fill it no more then 1/2 full with rice. This way you can move the rice around inside the sack while heating. ALSO make sure you watch in microwave as they CAN catch fire if heated too long. I have some large ones I made and I heat for 5 mins, mixing around 1/2 way through heating time. Our winters (NE Nevada in the high desert, at the base of the Ruby Mountains) are very cold with -10 to -20 the normal low temps for jan & feb, and lucky if we hit 10 for the day time high! We heat the heat sacks and toss them between the sheets of the bed about 30 mins before climbing into a nice warm bed… Oh my heat sacks stay nice and hot in the flannel fabric for a good hour or more. You can also get plain white flannel fabric and make the sacks as inserts to put in outer pillow type cases…. Have made the rice sacks as I called them and the cool bands (ties) for years. The crystals when you order in bulk on line come in different size crystals. Also if you make the heat sacks for gifts and need to mail them, just make the sacks and include the directions to fill 1/2 way with long grain white rice and sew end closed. This way you don’t have to pay for heavy weight postage. Mine wound up being around 4-5 lbs a heat sack!

  23. I learned a really fast way to turn right side out, skinny things like this. I put a long piece of yarn inside the tube with the ends sticking out. Then sew 1 end (sewing the yarn into the tube) then sew down the side like normal. Then all you have to do is pull on the yarn and it turns right side out easy peasy. 🙂 great tute!

  24. turning the tube out, use a large safty pin. pin one end of the tube feed the pin into the tube, keep feeding until you have turned the tube right side -out. easy ! how does this cool? is the water cold, and then stays cool?

    • Hi Sharon, the gel inside the cool tie is a cooling gel so that’s how it stays cool. It also isn’t a bad idea to dip the cool tie in ice cold water–it keeps it much cooler over a longer period of time!

      • Also NEVER freeze them after soaking them thinking they will stay cold longer. IF you freeze them the crystals are ruined! I have used the same cool bands year after year, by just letting them dry out flat or hang dry. I have also used a mini cooler with ice and water mixed to rotate them at hot out door events in Las Vegas when the temps were 115 and this worked great!. I also have washed them in a washing machine, but you better make sure you stitched them really really really good or you will have a mess in the washer. I also used all different types of the crystals from floral shops to online orders, and they all basically work the same. Again NEVER freeze them or they will not dry out and rehydrate ever again.

        • I freeze mine ll the time. I let last years dry out at the end of summer, thew them in tap water a few weeks ago and back in the freezer they went! I drive a para transit bus and it gets really hot by the loading ramp and inside the cab area and I over heat easy. I throw mine (3)in a cooler with ice packs I made from the same gel and my vacuum sealerbags and bottles of water and I’m good to go!

    • Can I use hydrating beads or water gems instead of the cracked ice crystals?

      • Hi Kristy, I’ve only ever used the cracked ice crystals. I can’t give advice on anything else. If you use one of the other options please let me know how it turns out! I would love to know! Good luck!

      • Yes I have tried the hydrating beads and water gems and they both work fine. You just have to figure out how much you need to add per how big your section is… The different type of crystals will be different on how much you use

  25. Kristina says:

    What kind of fabric do you use?

  26. BetteAnn Damico says:

    Hi yes they are awesome to cool down with, but they also work great for your pets to keep worm in the winter. I get 2 or 3 tubes, soak them in water then put them on a plate and put them in the microwave for about 45 sec. remove excess water before putting them in a large zip lock bag remove all the air in the bag, then put the bag into a pillowcase (I found a pillowcase for baby’s pillow is just the right size) . Then I put one each in my outside cats bed to keep them worm In the cold winter months. Make sure they”re not too hot you don’t want to burn then. They stay hot for about 8 hrs. I put them out before bed then gather them in the am. then do it all over again. I love them. Thank you for telling me where to find the crystals. Up until now I didn’t know what they were called and no one at the craft stores around here new what I was talking about, so I had to buy up all that I could find in the summer because I can’t find them in the winter. Thank you so much again

  27. Hi, Katie. Do I understand correctly that the only part of the 40″ strip that gets cold is a 10″ section in the midde of the tube, and this section is where the crystals go. Then the 10″ section is sewn closed. That would leave 15″ on each end of the tube empty? I had one of these years ago but have misplaced it somewhere. I get overheated easily, so this will save me this summer. :-). Thanks.

  28. What kind of thread do you use to make these?? cotton? poly? nylon? with them being in water and ice I’m not sure?


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