Cool Ties

Making a CoolTie (also called a Hug or Cooling Necktie)

What you need and how to use them:

Alternately: Make your first seam an L-shaped seam


Fold and place in a Ziploc bag with the Care Instructions. Consider including a cartoon or joke in the package, just for fun. The pictures of the turner show how to use the turner, but you’ll want to use the smaller version described above.

*Hug Turner and turning process: First seam done and tube is ready to turn. Insert tapered end of PVC tube into open end of cool tie.

Tube is mounted and ready to turn. Dowel is inserted and fabric pushed into the tube.

Insert crystals and close the open end.

IT'S ALL IN THE DETAILS... FINAL TOUCHES: When you've finished sewing your CoolTies, don't forget the final details that mean so much!

Fold each CoolTie and insert it into a snack-size zip lock baggie. Type and staple a note to each CoolTie giving care instructions, and a note from you to the receiving soldier. We suggest the following: CoolTie Care Instructions Soak in cool water 20 to 60 minutes to activate the crystals inside the CoolTie, then wrap the CoolTie around your neck for several hours of relief from the heat! When not in use, dry out and store in a zip lock baggie. This Cool Tie was made especially for our American Heroes by: [your name and address and/or email address here].

MAIL your finished CoolTies to:

Packages From Home
Attention: CoolTie Project
1201 South 7th. Avenue
Phoenix, Arizona 85007

Alternately, you may DROP OFF your completed CoolTies at our Processing Center, or one of our DropOff Locations around the Valley. Our thanks to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for these instructions on how to sew CoolTies.

  • 100% Cotton fabric – 44-45 inches wide - in tan, khaki or a muted brown/beige (to blend with the “sand” camouflage).One yard will make seven or eight “Hugs.” Cotton sheets work well and white ones can be tea, coffee or Rit dyed to an appropriate shade. Don’t overlook thrift stores in your search for inexpensive cotton sheets to use. If you tea or coffee stain light fabric, you’ll get a camo effect if you put your dry fabric in the sink with the stopper in. Use a large pot of water to make a strong tea/coffee mixture.Be sure to add 1 C. of vinegar to the pot to set the color when you stain. Once the tea/coffee mixture is VERY hot, pour it directly over the dry fabric. The places where the mixture directly hits the fabric will be very dark, while the other fabric will pick up varying levels of stain – instant camo. Let the fabric soak until the mixture has cooled (or overnight). Wring out the fabric and run it through the washing machine.This will take out any lingering tea that might stain a neck. If you’re staining a lot of fabric, just scoop your mixture out of the sink, reheat it, and use it again. You can add a little more tea/coffee when you reheat if desired.

  • Thread
  • Scissors
  • Water absorbing crystals (can be found at – order the medium crystals) sells a minimum sized package of 2 pounds of crystals, which is enough for about 175-200 “Hugs”. You can also find Schultz Water Absorbing Crystals at Walmart – in the garden department with the plant food. It’s in a semi-clear plastic bottle with a blue label.

  • “Hug turner” – You’ll have to make this, but it’s really simple and saves TONS of time. It consists of a piece of 3/4” PVC pipe cut to a length of approximately 12 inches, and a 7/16” (or similar) wooden dowel cut to about 18 inches. That’s a plastic Easter egg with one end cut off and hot glued to the PVC pipe to make a funnel for the later filling step.) The angle on the PVC pipe makes it easier to slide into the Hug and the tapered end on the dowel makes it easier to turn the corners of the Hug before removing the dowel from the Hug.

  • Templates made from card stock or heavy paper.You’ll need one that is 5 inches long (to use when cutting the fabric strips) and one that is 10 inches long (to measure from the center of your fabric strip). Instead of the 10 inch long template, you can measure on your sewing machine by making a mark 10 inches from the needle.

  • Prewash fabric before cutting or sewing.
    Fold lines
  • Clip along fold line at intervals of 5 inches (use your template and put one end at the edge and clip at the other end, then move template and repeat. Using the 5 inch template will give you 7 strips from 1 yard of fabric. I just clip and tear, but if you have a cutter and guide you may prefer to cut the fabric. You may want to tear a thin strip off the end to make sure the “leading edge” is straight. Fold right sides together and stitch using a 1/4 inch or smaller seam.

  • If you’re doing a number of Hugs, it’s easier to just begin the next one and sew this seam on a number of Hugs before cutting the thread to start Step 2.

  • Step 2: The next seam to sew is across the bottom. People find it much easier to iron these if you sew them in a “T” fashion. To do that, with right sides together, position the first seam so that it’s centered in the Hug.

  • Step 3: The "Step 2" seam goes across the bottom and close to the edge.


  • Turn and iron the Hug.
  • Step 4: Use 10 inch template to measure from the center to first row of cross stitch. Do not stitch at the center point.
  • First Seam Center
  • After you sew your first cross stitch, put 2 level teaspoons of crystals into the pocket using your little egg filler or PVC pipe with funnel inserted. (I went to Auto Zone and got a funnel with a long tube attached to it, which I really like, but there’s no need to purchase something like that.) You’ll be tempted to put in a few extra crystals because 2 level teaspoons just doesn’t seem like enough for the size of the pocket. Trust me. It’s enough. If you put in more, you’ll have a sausage that’s so stiff you can’t even bend it. Fold the Hug and match the position for the other seam (10 inches in the other direction). That will give you a 20” pocket. {If you just can’t believe that 2 tsp. is enough, take a 6 or 8 oz. plastic drinking cup and fill it with water. Add 1/8 to 1/4 tsp. of crystals to the water and let it sit for about an hour. What you’ll find is that almost all of the water has been absorbed by those few crystals.}

  • Once you have closed the last pocket, fold the ends in and finish off the end.
  • (Stitched lines appear in red)