This is a background post for my Winter of Care and Repair 2023 Project. If you want to see all the posts in the series click here. You can find all the posts about my Wearable Hot Water Bottles here.
In early 2021 I was freezing. I was spending a lot of time in the converted loft room where we used to live, and the insulation there wasn’t great. In summer I’d have to migrate downstairs after mid-morning, but in winter I tried to tough it out using layers.
One day I had an idea to put a hot water bottle in a tote bag and then wear the handles around my neck. The hot water bottle would stay under my jumper, and it kept me nice and toasty. The main downside was it became a literal pain in the neck after a while.
So after searching high and low for a pattern or ready-to-buy product and not finding anything, I made my own.
True to form it worked but it was needlessly complicated. I had to take it on and off over my head (the straps crossed in the back and were sewn together, so I had to wriggle in, then tighten the lower straps on the sides.
It also didn’t have any built-in interfacing, so it lost heat quickly and slightly burned my skin. The latter was resolved (more or less) by wrapping a tea towel around the bottle before putting it in the papoose.
It worked well enough, but I knew it could be better. I wanted it easier to take on and off, and as insulated as possible. But a few things stopped me before I could continue.
Around this time I also took part in my very first Super Seconds Saturday (now Super Seconds Festival). Taking part in the same event was Pothies, who made wearable hot water bottle covers!
I ummed and ahhed about whether to make another version for myself, or support a small business who was making something I loved the idea of, but wasn’t quite sure it met my brief. I hadn’t made a decision by the time it got warm and I no longer needed it, so I parked the project.
Of course, it got chilly again.
I was going away in October 2021. My husband and I were headed to Wales, and I’d booked myself on a day-long basket making class. The class was to take place in a chilly room on a farm, made all the more drafty by keeping the doors open. I didn’t mind as I didn’t want to catch Covid, but I decided it was time to make my decision on whether to buy or make my own.
While I loved the idea behind Pothies’ Cosymajig, I wanted mine to be more insulated with the opening somewhere other than the top (heat rises). I liked the strap method of holding it on, but wanted those wear points to be stronger. I also really loved the idea of the hand pocket, as my hands are always the first things to get cold.
I incorporated the lessons I learned from V1 with some ideas from the Cosymajig, and made my V2:
The wadding was wool cool insulation from a cheese gift basket we got in the post. The exterior fabric was scraps from a cushion I’d made using IKEA fabric, the interior some scraps of a duvet cover I’d used to make a dress toile.
I absolutely love it, and still use it at markets and while doing other chilly activities, but there was still some room for improvement:
- I cut out everything before I quilted it, not realising everything would shrink a bit. It still fit the water bottle, but it’s snugger than I’d like.
- The insulation was so thick, I couldn’t sew two layers of it on my machine (TBH one layer was a struggle). So I made and bound the front and back separately, attached the D rings to the interior back, then stitched them together by hand.
- As the wadding wasn’t designed for this, I have yet to wash it. I use it relatively sparingly and it’s never directly against my skin, so it hasn’t really gotten sweaty/smelly. But the next version needed to be washable.
- I put two D-rings on each side of the top, thinking the strap would stay in position like a belt. It doesn’t, I just tie it and don’t mind. I’ll just use one on the next version.
- I wear this under a jumper and coat, so the only use the hand pocket gets is holding the straps in when I’m using it as a normal hot water bottle. I’ll remove it for the next version.
But of course, because it worked, I fell to the curse of the usable toile and never continued with version 3.
That is, not until the Winter of Care and Repair 2023.