Do you ever wonder about the ideas that change our life? Who was the first person to put rice in a fabric container and how did they come up with the idea to heat it? Who found that the same rice bag placed in a freezer would become cold enough to provide therapeutic value? Did they start out with those goals in mind? Or was it some happy accident? However it happened, I am certainly glad it did! I have half a dozen different types of rice bags that I rotate all winter long. Great for warming cold toes, taking the chill off the bed, keeping warm company while reading, soothing aches. (I did mention that I am cold blooded and live where the winters are cold!) Bytes friend even uses one to warm her car seat while she scrapes the windshield!
When my sister came home from the hospital following surgery, a new gifty rice bag was waiting for her. The one pictured above, in fact! Both ice for therapy and keeping warm while inactive were on her agenda. She needed to cover a large area of her petite self. She also needed a way to keep the “load” balanced so the heat or cold was even as well as the weight of the bag. And I wanted her to have a fleece cover that could be washed easily and that would help maintain the temperature, hot or cold.
Make your own extra large rice bag with cover – for gifting or for yourself!
You will need:
- 1. Tightly woven fabric – about 18 inches by 11. A fat quarter, used by quilters, is ideal. It comes in a rainbow of color and patterns. The dimensions are 18” x 22” so you can get two extra large rice bags from each quarter.
- 2. Rice – buy the cheapest. I used two pounds of rice to make the extra large bag. The amount needed will vary, depending on how tightly you fill the bags.
- 3. Optional cover: Fleece remanent about 9 inches by 25 inches and, if desired, trim about 10 inches long.
- 1. Fold fabric in half, matching right side to right side.
- 2. Beginning at fold, stitch one long edge and the end.
- 3. Turn the corner and on the remaining long edge, stitch about 2 inches toward the center. Back stitch to lock and cut thread.
- 4. Begin at fold on the same long edge and stitch about 2 inches toward the center. Back stitch to lock and cut thread.
- 5. Turn so right side of fabric is out and the seams are inside. Use point of scissors, if necessary to push corners out so they are square. You will have an opening about 7 inches long.
- 6. To keep rice from shifting in extra large bag, create channels to hold it in place. Find center of the bag by folding it in half, with the open edge on top. Mark fold with pins or chalk. I came up with this technique for subsequent versions and it works much better than my original try. Although I didn’t think to take a picture …. so if the picture looks like the opening is closed differently, it is. But this way I am about to tell you works better, trust me!
- 7. Begin at the closed edge of the bag, backstitching to lock thread. Stitch along half way marks. STOP one inch from open edge and backstitch.
- 8. Trim all loose threads, press if needed. This gives a more polished look and makes the bag easier to handle for finishing. But – ahem—skip it if your iron hasn’t seen the light of day for months or is nonexistent.
- 9. Fill each channel between two thirds and three fourths full, using the opening. If it is difficult to get the rice to go where you want, create a funnel by rolling a piece of paper into an open ended cone and putting the small end into the rice bag.
- 10. This is the tricky part! Keep rice bag on the table for this. You can either lay it flat or stand it on the closed end. Some bags work best one way; others work better the other. Depends on the Great Lake tides, I guess. Who knows? Tuck edges into the opening, pinning as you go. Space pins fairly close together to keep rice in the bag. Then stitch to close opening – I don’t have any happy tips to offer, except do the best you can to keep the rice pushed back. Just go for it! Closing the opening by hand stitching is also an option, if you prefer.
Do this to make the cover shown at top of post:
- 1. Lay fleece with 9 inch width across bottom. Fold bottom up about 11 inches. Stitch both sides closed and turn so seams are inside. Press with your hand so cover lays flat.
- 2. Lay cover with opening at top. The remaining three inches will form the flap when folded at the end of the stitched edges.
- 3. The top side of the flap when folded is where the trim goes. Pin into place and then stitch down the middle for narrow trim or on both sides for wider trim.
- 4. Done! Since the fleece tends to cling to itself, I didn’t think this one needed a fastener. You can add one if you choose.
I added the card with an “original” poem and tucked this into Vee’s package with the ruana I told you about here. If you’d like a copy of the poem – which you are welcome to change any way you choose! – Right Click here and choose “save link as”.
You can find three more versions of the rice bag here. There are heart shaped hand warmers, a big wrap around your arm (or leg) version and a version with channels to keep the rice from bunching up in one spot.
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