Now that everyone has been gifted their rice bag for Christmas, I can share three more. A pair of hearts and two others for pure coziness. Plus a quick how to so you can make as many as you want or need. I used scraps leftover from other projects and making the two pictured above took less than two hours, including going through the fabric stash, cutting the right size pattern, and making everything. You can probably do it in less – depending on how often you get side tracked in the fabric stash. Or am I the only one?
The hearts are a play on the old saying “cold hands, warm heart.” I made round hearts to fit in a pocket. Twenty seconds in the microwave and they hold heat for an hour or more. Long enough to walk to the bus stop and wait for the bus. Or to warm up hands that just scraped a windshield while the defroster works on the inside. Or you can go the opposite direction and keep one in a zip locked sandwich bag in the freezer. It’s the perfect size to mold around little ones for minor bumps and booboos.
To make: Cut four hearts and stitch about one fourth inch from the edge around the heart, leaving a one inch opening (where the scissors are in the photo). Clip all threads and the curved edges as shown to reduce bulk. Turn so the seam is inside by pulling the fabric through the opening. Use a rounded blunt edge, like a table knife, to shape the heart from the inside, pushing all seams out. Press.
To fill, make a funnel from a cone of paper and insert into opening. Carefully pour rice in until half full. The size heart I used took about between half and three quarter cup of uncooked white rice – the cheapest on the store shelf. You want something that will fit around the contours of your pocket and hand so the rice needs “room to move”. Slip stitch the opening closed by hand for a finished gift look.
The longer one is designed to lie flat while going over both shoulders behind the neck to soothe chronic muscle aches. I chose a tightly woven medium/heavy cotton fabric. I cut it six inches wide — because that was the width of my scrap. I would not recommend any smaller! The length was determined by laying a tape measure along the line I wanted the finished rice bag to follow. Came out to 23 inches so I cut it 24 , because you’ll need a half inch seam allowance for this larger, heavier rice bag. Place right sides together and sew, using half in seam allowance, around three edges. Leave one of the short edges open.
Clip corners and turn so the right side of the fabric is now on the outside. Press. Determine middle of closed narrow end and sew a straight line from there, right down the middle for the full length of the tube. Stop about one inch from the open end. Use your paper funnel to add rice to each channel. I used between one and one and a half cups of rice to fill each channel just over half full. Holding the open end closed, check to make sure the amount you use will allow the rice bag to mold around the neck and shoulders. To finish fold the fabric in about half an inch on the open end, pinning to hold it in place. Sew across the end. About 2 minutes in the microwave for soothing warmth. Optional: I wanted the rice to be evenly distributed for each use without having to shove it in place. So I pushed about half the rice in each channel to each end and stitched through the middle the short way as well. You can see this in the photo at the top. Works great!
Big wrap around is designed to fasten on an arm or a leg – or to make a muff to warm cold hands! When open flat, it’s heavy enough to stay in place and warm if laid across the lap under a blanket or coat — say for football game or other chilly activity.
This one has four channels. Three are full of rice. The fourth smaller channel is designed to overlap the first channel, keeping the heat in and providing a sturdy place for tugging to open the hook and loop fasteners. I used a fat quarter — 18″ x 21″. Sew two loop portions of fasteners on one 18″ end, referring to photo for placement. Fold in half the long way, right sides together. Stitch the two shorter open ends with a half inch seam allowance and turn. Fold fabric in quarters and mark the fold with a pin on the closed length. Reopen and stitch at the quarter mark from long fold to open end, forming the channels that will hold the rice. Stop about an inch from the open end. Fill three pockets, including the one on which the loop fastener is stitched, just over half full with rice. Tuck open ends in and stitch closed. Add hook portion of fasteners to unfilled channel, again referring to photo for placement and making sure to align with loop fasteners already sew in place. Done! Start with 2 minutes in the microwave and adjust time from there, if necessary to achieve coziness.
If you’d like to see another version with accompanying fleece cover, here is the one I made for my sister (and that inspired these!) These ought to get us through a cold winter!
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Check the Exclusive Downloads on A Pinch of Joy face book page for the pattern for the heart shaped heated rice bag. Be sure to print at 100%!