Now that everyone has been gifted their rice bag for Christmas, I can share a quick how to so you can make some for your own warmth! They provide a steady source of heat for pain relief, for warming up in cold weather, or preventing cold! A pair of hearts and two others for pure coziness. (These rice bags can also be kept in a freezer and molded around the body for cold packs.) 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 san dwich 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. The rice needs “room to move” so it can mold around a hand so be careful not overfill. Slip stitch the opening closed by hand for a finished gift look.
The longer one, the black with pink roses 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 two pieces 19 inches long by six inches wide — because that was the width of my scrap. I would not recommend any smaller! Place right sides together and sew, around three edges, using a half inch seam allowance. Leave one of the short edges open. Clip corners and turn so the right side of the fabric is now on the outside. Use your paper funnel to add rice, about 2 1/2 cups to fill rice bag just over half full. 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.
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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