Sew an insulated drink sleeve

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Sewing Bee Fabrics Tutorial
How To Sew An Insulated Sleeve For Hot or Cold Drinks

How to sew a DIY insulated drink sleeve free tutorial

People often think neoprene is just for wetsuits but neoprene can be used for so many more sewing projects. One of neoprene's great properties is that it is perfect for keeping hot drinks hot and cold drinks cold, so it's the perfect fabric to sew an insulated drink sleeve out of. They make great presents too. A lot of people are intimidated by sewing with neoprene, but this is a really easy and quick to sew. If you haven't sewn with neoprene before, you might want to check out our neoprene fabric guide first.

What You Will Need:

Neoprene - 2 pieces 16cm x 21cm for most plastic bottles and tall cans. I recommend using 1 or 2mm thick neoprene as most domestic machines can sew this without a problem, but thicker than 4mm requires an industrial sewing machine and is much harder to work with.

Tip - because neoprene stretches I would strongly recommend not cutting out your pieces until after embroidering or appliqueing etc a design on if you want to do that.

You will find this much easier to sew with either a knit foot or a walking foot and a bigger needle (>size 80 or denim).



How To Make It:

First, I decided to personalise my neoprene. This is completely optional, but I think it's good fun. The way I did it was to hoop 1 layer of tear away stabiliser, use quilt basting spray as a temporary bond between the neoprene and the stabiliser and stick it directly on top of the hoop. I then also floated a second piece of tear away stabiliser under the hoop for a bit of extra support. I used this embroidery pattern.


Making an embroidered Neoprene insulated drink sleeve - pattern

Neoprene doesn't usually have a "right side" so don't worry if you haven't decorated your drink cozy. However I would definitely make sure you have direction of stretch across the width of the fabric so it's easier to get on and off, and a better fit once on different width bottles or tall cans.


Put the fabric pattern sides (right side)  together and sew only the top and bottom. If you sew side seams accidentally instead, then believe me, it won't work out well for you. Just unpick it! Trust me, I tried! 

How to sew neoprene with a knit foot

You should now have a tube. Turn your tube right side out, then fold it in half so you have the 2 end circles together. Now this is the part that is really simple... Once you get your head around it. 

How to make an insulated embroidered drink sleeve - turning the tube

Pinch your circles together so that 1 of your seams line up from each end. 

How to sew a lined tube with neoprene fabric

Put the circles on top of each other under your sewing machine foot being careful to keep the rest of the fabric out of the way. Sew about half way around. 

How to make a lined tube for an insulated drink sleeve

As soon as it gets half way, start tucking the neoprene in on itself to make a little pocket.

How to sew a lined tube with neoprene

As you keep going, it will flip itself into being inside out. Leave a gap large enough to turn it through at the end.

Sewing an insulated drink sleeve inside out

Turn your insulated drink sleeve right side out.

Neoprene drink sleeve tutorial leaving a gap to turn through

Hand sew the opening closed.

How to hand sew neoprene

Then it's ready to keep your drinks warm or cold. Simply slide over and it's done!

To make them fit coffee cups or small cans, simply shorten the height of your neoprene rectangles so you make a shorter version.


What would you put on the front of your drink sleeve?

Make your own embroidered neoprene drink sleeve for cans

We hope you enjoy our tutorials and love hearing what you think so please leave us a comment or send me an email to

Happy Sewing!

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