Time in a Bottle

Heat of the Moment

Just before I left Singapore a week ago, I remembered the heat being relentless over the past few months.

I recall being covered in perspiration after my morning walk to the studio from the train station. And it was not an uncommon occurrence to feel beads of sweat forming just moments after taking a cool shower. I find myself taking the bus a lot more frequently and sitting in front of the fan or air conditioning.

Given how hot and humid it was then, I found the need to keep hydrated and set out to utilise my Nalgene bottle more instead of only using it at home. Besides, I would not need to purchase drinks when I’m out and about.

Bottle Features

My bottle is a 32oz bottle from Nalgene. It is a gift my sister received when she got into law school.

It has a pretty thick circumference compared to plastic bottles or wine bottles – at around 56cm, which is more similar to a mug or a cup than a bottle.

It also has a uniformed cylindrical shape from the base to the wide mouth opening. The wide mouth opening is probably for storing semi-solids in camping and easier washing outdoors.

The lid loop also acts as a small handle, but from past experiences with my older Nalgene bottle some years back, the loop would eventually give way after long enough usage. And in order to extend the lifespan of the bottle, I decided to make a water bottle holder for it.

Starting on the Right Foot

The first task in the crafting process is always to find out as much as possible, not just about the task at hand but also every rendition of the product that has already been made.

Finding out what is already out in the world helps me come up with ideas. It is a chance to see what has worked well for others and what has not. It also presents an opportunity to consider other perspectives and considerations that others have thought of. After all, it is our shared, collective memories and documentation of the world that has brought man to the modern front.

The first design that comes to mind for water bottle holders is one that is knitted/crocheted/macrame since it can be made by anyone, anywhere. I like the different knots and patterns that can be found throughout the various knitted designs. However, as I am still green to the art of knitting, I could not yet fathom the possibilities of yarn. Moreover, while knitted bottle holders can expand slightly to fit bottles of different sizes, they are not as durable as those made of other materials. Nonetheless, I would not discount the possibility of mashing fabric with knit just yet, when I get to learning more about the craft of knitting and crocheting.

Crochet Water Bottle Holder from Crochet 365 Blog in a unique pattern.

Cocoon & Me offers their Macramé Water Bottle Bag Kit for you to craft your own macrame bags.

Another common design is the utilitarian look. They are reminiscent of techwear and usually have features such as parachord straps with toggles, mesh pockets, side release buckles, cinched openings just to name a few. And while I do value functionality highly, I think the mishmash of plastics and synthetic materials is not in line with the more natural and matte direction of ODDBALL KIND.

Greater Goods Offcuts Bottle Bag has parachord straps with a cinch and toggle.

Similarly, Jansport’s Kitsack Water Bottle Sling allowing cinching for different bottle sizes.

On the opposite end from utilitarian designs, there is luxury fashion, which has been a source of inspiration for me in recent times. I am interested to see how organisations prioritise aesthetics over function and more importantly, luxury houses do make beautiful products (in general). Also, their products are usually created as part of a collection and it is fascinating to see how different, seemingly disparate products weave into a thematic series. Thankfully, the web is littered with case studies of luxury water bottles that were the trend of 2020.

Louis Vuitton water bottle case in 2020 comes with its own custom bottle, with swivel clasps holding the strap and a small leather tag attached.

Likewise, Fendi’s ruffia water bottle holder from 2021 also comes with a custom bottle from its collaborator, 24Bottles.

After spending a few days looking through what I could find both online and in real life, a mental picture started forming in my head of the water bottle holder I wanted to create:

  1. It had to fit the bottle snugly.
  2. It should not cover the entirety of the bottle – I wanted part of it to peek out from the holder.
  3. It would have a strap that is made of a different material.

The Making

I had initially wanted to make a bottle holder that holds other items too like the umbrella which I utilise regularly. However, after some thought, I realised I did not want to make something too bulky so I stuck with a holder just for my bottle.

Separately, I also received some polyester batting when I caught up with my sewing teacher two weeks ago. It provides more cushioning and can also be compressed, making it possible to sew multiple layers together. This project be an opportune time to utilise it.

Laying out the patches for colour blocking and checking measurements. 

After the patches have been sewn together. The next step is adding the sashiko reinforcements.

As for the pattern, the base had to be circular for the holder to fit securely. Excess had to be kept to a minimum, while also taking into account the thickness of the batting and inner lining. Measurements have to be even more precise than other patterns to keep things close-fitting. I also wanted the top of the holder to be curved like a wave – adding that element of oddness.

The strap would also be made of braided twine straps to add some texture and variation to the patchwork on the bottle holder.

And after some fixes and tweaks, the water bottle holder was finished. Nevertheless, there were some hiccups along the way. The batting moved and stretched as I sewed and unlike fusible interfacings, they did not stay in place with an iron. 

The second challenge came in the form of the braided straps. It reminded me of my ignorance of knots and braiding. And after multiple attempts of knotting and unravelling, I had finally come up with a solution but I did not have enough twine to create it. It is funny how braiding showed me how much length of twine was needed – it is akin to folding origami with string.

Testing different knots for the twine strap.

The initial variation of the twine strap without braids.

Closing Thoughts

The bottle holder did not differ much from the picture I had in my head and I was satisfied with what came out – I now have something that could hold my bottle!

On examination, the circular base could be sewn more evenly to the body of the holder. The runny batting likely made sewing the circular base a lot more difficult and looking back, the batting also gathered at some parts and had to be unpicked during the sewing process.

I also need more work with knots and braids. The braiding process also made me consider a way to turn scrap fabric into twine.

What surprised me about the holder was that the water within stayed cool even when the weather was hot. Digging deeper, I realised that the polyester batting served as a layer of insulation and the snug fit also helped further insulate the bottle. And since the body is a continuous piece unlike in a knitted holder, there were no holes for heat to enter or escape. But I will have to try it with hot water to test this hypothesis.

The making process of the water bottle holder can be found here.

– The Kind Oddball, 優しく個性的な人

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