Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Insulated Water Bottle Carriers

We've been using filtered tap water and various types of refillable bottles instead of bottled water for a couple of years now. Whenever I'm out on errands, on a long drive in the car or taking the Pesties for a walk, I fill up my bottle and take it with me to sip throughout the day. It's worked well for me, but there are a couple of things that bothered me - first, the condensation from the cold bottles left puddles in the car or wet spots in my bag and second, the water would get too warm to drink if I decided to leave it in the car for any amount of time.

The solution? An insulated bottle carrier. My first thought was to buy something to wrap around my bottle to absorb the condensation and keep my water cold; I wasn't thrilled with the commercially available wraps so decided to make my own.

I remembered seeing Embroidery Library's Insulated Water Bottle Carrier project instructions and used them as a jumping off point. A quick search of Flickr photos led me to Pink Chalk Studio's tutorial for a quilted bottle carrier. Finally, Husqvarna Viking's free monthly project for August 2010, Hot Flowers, Cool Water featured instructions for yet another version of a carrier. The common features for all is the use of Insul-Brite batting to keep the contents of the bottle cool and a strap for carrying the bottle.

Prototype bottle carrierIn July I made my own carrier, loosely following the Embroidery Library instructions. I consider this my 'prototype'; it's not perfect, but it allowed me to work out how to assemble the rest more efficiently and to evaluate the overall size and usefulness of the carrier and the length/positioning of the straps.

Since part of the reason for carrying a reusable bottle is to be frugal, I wanted to use supplies from my stash to construct the carrier. My letter D is from a Curlz alphabet appliqué design from Embroidery Boutique, made with a scrap of Mets fabric (too small to use for anything else) stitched on a remnant piece of denim. The lining is white rip-stop nylon and the straps are black nylon webbing. The swivel clasps and D-rings were in my stash already. The only supplies I had to buy for this first carrier were the drawstring cording and a cord stop.

I was pleasantly surprised when I put the carrier to its first test - my water was cool and drinkable after 3 hours in the car and no more puddles and wet spots!

Around the same time I was wondering what I could give for all the summer birthdays this year while sticking to my limited budget. And then it hit me - stainless steel bottles and personalized insulated carriers!

All of the insulated bottle carriers are lined on the inside with white rip-stop nylon and Insul-brite batting, but the outer cover and hardware options are each slightly different. I've made detachable adjustable straps for each one so the bottle can be carried over the shoulder or around the waist; without the strap, the bottles can be attached to a backpack or other type of bag. And though my hope is that the recipients will use the stainless steel water bottles instead of plastic, the size of the carrier will accommodate purchased water, juice or soda bottles and cans, too.

First in line was Lauren's birthday gift:
Lauren's bottle carrier Lauren's bottle carrier
The letter L is another Curlz alphabet appliqué design from Embroidery Boutique, embroidered on purple nylon from my remnant collection. I bought the lavender nylon webbing and plastic swivel clasps, strap adjusters and D-rings from JoAnn Fabrics and joann.com. I adjusted the height of the carrier in this version to equal the height of the stainless steel bottle.

Then there was Dad's birthday:
Patriot Dad bottle carrier Patriot Dad bottle carrier
The flag embroidery design is from Embroidery Library; I added the lettering with my 4D software. This carrier is made of blue nylon fabric, another remnant from my collection. I changed the orientation of the straps slightly on this one, so it would hang straight with the shoulder strap attached. One side has a D-ring and the other side has a swivel clip on a slightly longer bit of webbing so it can be looped around a belt or through a belt loop.

Then there was Emily's birthday:
Psychadelic Chick bottle carrier Psychadelic Chick bottle carrier
The Psychedelic chic was a freebie design (I don't remember where it came from) and I added the flowers with 4D software. The pink nylon webbing and purple cord were from the stash/collection. In this version and in Richie D's below, I lengthened the attachments for the strap connections and stitched them so that the adjustable shoulder strap could be threaded through and around the bottle for an alternative method of carrying the bottle.

Richie D's birthday:
Mets 'Believe' water bottle carrier Mets 'Believe' water bottle carrier
The Mets baseball is an appliqué design that I've used several times; the baseball was originally purchased from Embroidery.com, I resized it and added the lettering using 4D software. The photo above, right shows the alternate threading of the adjustable strap. I also changed the way this one was put together by joining the top of the outer cover and lining while flat. This allowed me to sew a nice straight topstitch along the top edge before sewing the back seams.

This one is for carrying water to the Bark Park for the Pesties:
Paisley Westie bottle carrier Paisley Westie bottle carrier
The embroidery is a Paisley Scottie design from Embroidery Library; the aqua cording is recycled. The 'scottie' dog is embroidered in a RA thread color called "Penny", just for my own amusement.

Most recently, this one was for Mom's birthday, an appliqué star design (can't remember where I got this one):
Star Appliqué Bottle Carrier

Once again, I tweaked the attachment webbing to add an extra D-ring on one side (for attaching keys or whatever) and extended the webbing on the other side as handle to slide a hand through while drinking.
Star Appliqué Bottle Carrier Star Appliqué Bottle Carrier

I think I need another carrier for me, since my prototype doesn't have all my latest improvements on the original design.

I realize that using all this nylon fabric isn't entirely eco-friendly; cotton would be a better choice, since it would eventually degrade faster in a landfill when the useful life of these carriers is over. However, I already have most of it in my stash, purchased as remnants over the years, it is washable and will last a long time. And in the interim, hopefully, lots of plastic bottles will be kept out of landfills. That's a trade-off I can live with.

Not too long ago I found a bunch of colorful stainless steel bottles at a clearance price -- Christmas is coming and we'll need inexpensive gifts for the rest of the nieces and nephews, so there will probably be more insulated carriers on the to do list this holiday season ...

You can see more photos in my Insulated Water Bottle Carriers set on Flickr.


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