The Maneki-Neko (beckoning cat) is a common Japanese lucky charm. Possessing a lucky cat is believed to bring good luck and fortune to the owner. Japanese Cats are also known as money cats, happy cats, welcoming cats and fortune cats - what could be better than that?! I'll tell you....having that lucky little kitty warming your cold feet in bed at night, that's what!
I actually started making these heat packs when my two little boys started complaining of freezing feet at night but refused to wear socks to bed. In an attempt to save my ears from whining I decided to make rice-filled heat packs to warm up their little tooties! They worked like a charm and since my feet are also always freezing I made a few for myself and I don't have to put my icicle toes on my husband anymore! He appreciates it too!
After having friends and family members comment on how cute and useful the heat packs were my husband and I decided to open an etsy shop to sell them! Check it out, it's called Thermies!
In this ible I will show you the step-by-step 'at home version' of how to create your very own rice-filled heat pack. These make fantastic stocking stuffer and inexpensive holiday gift ideas for friends, family, co-workers and children! How cute would one of these little cats look peeking out of a stocking on Christmas morning?!
Step 1: Create Artwork and Print
Using a program, like Adobe Illustrator, create a design or pattern of what you would like to print on your heat pack. This particular design measures about 4.25 inches by 5.5 inches which will result in a finished product of about 3.5 inches by 5 inches. (I was able to print four cats on an 8.5 by 11 sheet of fabric paper.) Perfect size to warm small child size feet! Make the design a half page or a full page to warm adult size feet. You could also use store bought fabric of your choice if you do not wish to create custom fabric.
Once the design is print ready you can print it on fabric paper. This can be purchased at most craft or fabric stores but do your research because not all fabric papers are created equal. I have tried a lot of them.
Some are just extremely poor quality, some don't hold color well, some make the ink bleed and some are even tainted with harmful chemicals - with warnings. Yuck! Anyway, all the papers have a backing that peels off after it has run through the printer. Depending on the paper you purchase there are instructions on how to treat the fabric after printing.
I cannot provide this specific lucky cat artwork to print because of the following - but I know you are very creative and can come up with a fantastic design of your very own!!
© 2014 Thermies LLC. All designs, patterns, fabric patterns, and content contained within Thermies listings, products, and materials are the intellectual property of Thermies and may not be copied, reproduced, distributed or displayed without Thermies’ express written permission.
Step 2: Cut All Fabric
Using a rotary cutter and a cutting mat cut out printed fabric and three layers of coordinating fabric of the same size (4.25 inches by 5.5 inches) I use all solid colors but feel free to use what ever patterns or colors you desire.
If you would also like to personalize the heat pack you are making with a tag (maybe to say Merry Christmas, Happy Birthday, I Love You, Miss You, etc.) you can also print one that can be cut out and sewn on the back side of the heat pack. I like to print stitching lines right on the tag to make things easier when sewing.
Step 3: Sew Tag
There should be four layers of fabric total for each heat pack. Layer the back two pieces of fabric, choose a color of thread and stitch along the pre-printed stitching lines making sure to keep all lines straight.
Step 4: Stitch an Element of the Design
To add to the texture and design of the heat pack I always choose an element to embellish with stitching. It adds love and character! Again with a thread color of your choice carefully stitch around an element of the design on the front two pieces of fabric (printed fabric and one layer of solid fabric). No need to pin pieces that are this small. You shouldn't have any problems!
Step 5: Stitch Outer Edges
Using the same color of thread stitch all around the outside of the heat pack rectangle leaving about a 1/4 inch border from the very edge. When you get to about one inch of the initial starting point stop and turn the fabric around the other way and stitch again to create a double stitch all around the edges. This will ensure no rice sneaks out later. You will leave a gap so the heat pack can be filled with rice.
Step 6: Fill With White Rice
Using a funnel fill the heat pack to desired weight (I fill them as full as I can possible get them)!
Did you know that white rice never goes bad? How awesome is that? So please think twice about filling your heat pack with flax seeds, brown rice, wheat, beans, scents or oils that can eventually go rancid. No cold feet, or noses for that matter, would like that!
Step 7: Stitch the Opening
Now that the heat pack is filled with rice you will need to stitch the opening closed. Try to push the rice as far to the opposite side of the opening as possible and stitch to close the opening. When it is completely closed turn the heat pack around and double stitch to make the closure secure.
Step 8: Trim Edges With Pinking Sheers
Now that everything is stitched up you can trim the edges with pinking sheers. I prefer a pinking rotary cutter for ease, however, traditional pinking sheers will work great! Repeat the entire process with other designs for more great stocking stuffers!
Step 9: Thermie Care
When giving a heat pack as a stocking stuffer or gift you might want to include a sheet that explains proper use of a heat pack. Again, these specific designs are under copyright law but you could certainly customize your own care sheet to print and give along with the heat pack.
If you like these lucky cat designs check out all of our heat packs in our Etsy shop. www.etsy.com/shop/thermies
Thanks for reading!