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These rice-filled heating pads and hand-warmers have made my life so much warmer and better! :) Surviving Wisconsin winters is really tough for me - but these little things make a huge difference. First, once made - all you need to do is throw it in the microwave for a minute or two and you're ready to go! They hold heat for quite a long time!

The small ones are great for pockets and the heating pads have multiple uses (for me anyway)- to warm my freezing hands, to soothe sore joints, to relieve neck pain, stomach aches, to defrost your windshield... and I've also used a little one to unfreeze the lock to my car door. I made a few of them in the past - but really rustic ones which didn't look nice enough to give as a gift to anyone.

So, I decided to upgrade them and make them with a removable fabric layer - so it can be washed easily and it'll last longer. They're very simple to make and I'll take you through the process here.

Step 1: Materials Needed for Rice Heating Pads & Hand Warmers

Materials Needed:
  • Regular Cotton Fabric
    • about 1/4 yard per heating pad (full measurements are in the next step)
    • hand-warmers each require two pieces of material 3 1/2 x 3 1/2 inches
  • Snuggle Flannel Fabric - about 1/3 yard per heating pad (full measurements are in the next step)
    • about 1/4 yard for the heating pad's removable layer
    • hand-warmer's removable layer require a piece of material 4 3/4 inches by 8 inches wide
  • White Rice - not instant
    • 3 1/2-4 cups of rice per heating pad
    • 4 1/2 to 5 tablespoons of rice per hand-warmer
  • Sewing Machine
  • Scissors
  • Pins

Step 2: Cutting & Preparing

The first thing we'll need to do is cut out the material. I am using some basic pink and blue plain cotton material for the rice packs. For the outer layer, we'll use the nice snuggle flannel fabric - and we'll get to that step later.

For the full heating pad, I folded the plain cotton material in half so I could cut through two layers at once. You'll need to cut out two pieces of material per bag, 13 inches long by 7 inches wide. Please note that this is not super long and if you want to make a heating pad specifically to go around the neck and further onto the shoulders, you'll want to adjust this and make it longer than 13 inches. For me, it can go around my neck but it's not super long.

For the hand-warmers, you'll want to cut out two layers of plain cotton material 3 1/2 inches wide by 3 1/2 inches high.

Step 3: Sewing the Basic Packs

Now you'll need to take the two pieces of material and pin them together if needed and head on over to the sewing machine (or serger). Sew the material together along three edges of the fabric - leaving one side open. See image for clarification. Reinforce the stitches (especially on the large heating pad) to make sure it's extra strong and won't come apart! I used both my serger and sewing machine to sew the edges - either one would work just fine.

Once done, you can trim off any excess fabric and then turn the pads right-side out.

Step 4: Filling Them & Sewing the End

Now it's time to fill them up with rice! In my photos, you'll see that I'm using brown rice in some of the heating pads. Please disregard that - and use white rice! I wanted to get rid of some rice we had and used a bag of the brown rice before getting to the white rice. When heated up, it has a bit of an unpleasant scent to it (although my son thinks it's fine). :)

*Warning: When sewing these, please read the directions fully and be extra careful to not get any rice underneath the area you will be sewing for your final seam. I did this one time - broke a needle and the sharp tip went flying out towards me and hit me. You don't want to get that stuck in your eye or ruin your sewing machine! Please be more careful than I was!

Filling with Rice
  • Large Heating Pads
    • I filled the large heating pads up with 3 1/2 to 4 cups of rice. I then folded the end seams inward and pinned it down. I also pinned the filled up pads as far down as possible (see image please) to try to prevent rice from spilling towards the area I would be sewing for the final seam.
  • Hand-Warmers
    • I filled the hand-warmers up with about 4 1/2 to 5 tablespoons of rice - then pinned and sewed the seam in the same manner as the large heating pad.

Step 5: Cutting the Outer Lining & Pinning

In this step you'll need to do some more cutting. This time you'll be cutting out the snuggle flannel material for the outer layer of fabric, which will be removable. The outer layer will be sewn somewhat like a pillow case - for both the full-size heating pad and the hand warmers. You'll need to do a little bit of measuring yourself - with your rice packs and material to get it just right. I will explain how to do that.

For the outer layer of fabric for the full-size heating pad, cut out one piece of snuggle flannel material that is 28 inches long by 8 inches wide. This is one inch larger than the plain cotton material was when you cut that out.

For the hand-warmers, you'll need to cut out a piece snuggle flannel material  that is 8 inches long by 4 3/4 inches wide.

Once you've cut these out, lay them out the long way (or as kids at school say - the hotdog way) and take the edges of the material on both ends and fold them in about 1/2 an inch and pin. See image.

Then, go to your sewing machine and sew a simple straight seam across, while removing the pins. Then trim the threads and we'll move onto the next step.

Step 6: Final Pinning & Sewing

Now lay out your piece of fabric the long way, with the material right-side up - and place your rice heating pad in the center. Then fold one edge inward, and then the other edge in. The edges are supposed to overlap. Once snug and you like the placement and where the edges are overlapping, then place pins through the material at the corners, near where the rice pack ends. Then pin the overlapping layers together in the center (leaving the bottom layer alone). Once you like the placement, then carefully pull the rice pad out from within the center. Then, you can remove the pins that are in the overlapping area and pin them through all three layers. See images for clarifications - as I took a lot of photos!

The small hand-warmers should be pinned and sewn the same way.

Once you've completed the sewing, you can then trim off any excess material and turn the outer layer right-side out again. Then, take the rice packs and put them in the lining cases you just sewed and you are done! If giving these as a gift, you can tie a little ribbon around them with a nice bow.

See next step for more images of the final product & microwaving instructions!

Step 7: DIY Rice Pack Heating Pads & Hand Warmers - Photos & Microwaving

You are done!

The large heating pads take about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes in the microwave to get nice and hot. The first time you heat it - you may want to just put it in for a minute, then check it and flip it if needed. Then if not warm or hot enough, add another minute. My microwave takes 2 minutes to fully heat the full size heating pad - and it's pretty hot (so be careful).

The small hand-warmers take only 30 seconds to a minute in the microwave to heat up. Enjoy!
1 minute was HOT for me. I could hold it but I had to play hot potato. Next time I'll try 45 seconds lol.<br>Thanks for the tips!
<p>Should I only use cotton thread in terms of microwave melting concerns? I find that all of my thread spools are either polyester or cotton convered polyester. :/</p>
I don't think it should matter - I think I used a mix of different types of thread and it was fine. :)
<p>I made these tonight, hand warmer size. The instructions were great! I neglected to take a photo before wrapping them for a small birthday gift but plan to make more. </p>
Aww thank you for the kind comment Abigail. I plan to make more too...they make great Christmas gifts. I accidentally dropped mine in the toilet..of all places!!! AHHH.. so I am about to make more. They are a lifesaver as the cold weather approaches..mostly, they have helped with stomach pain, quite a lot. If you ever feel like taking a pic, after making more, I'd love to see it!
<p>Have made these to sell at a fete, but when testing the heating in my microwave, sparks started to fly. Turned off and will not be calling them hand warmers anymore, but pattern weights. Any suggestions?</p>
<p>They can be used as ice packs for people in pain so not just paper weights. Some synthetics cannot be microwaved and some painted fabrics cannot be mw also.</p>
There is no reason you should have issues with sparks in the microwave unless you have metal on there somewhere. Did you perhaps leave a pin in? Or perhaps put a zipper or without thinking?
<p>wow these are awesome I love them the rice smells a bit but nothing a little lavender won't fix thank you!!!! You've made my winters a whole nicer</p>
<p>No problem..I have one with me at all times!</p>
<p>If you use a full-cotton t-shirt, this is a good way to salvage a favorite t-shirt which doesn't fit anymore or which has worn out at the sleeves. </p>
<p>awesome idea :) </p>
I like it
<p>thank you!</p>
This might be a really stupid question but you don't cook the rice before you put it in right? Or do you? .-.
<p>Definitely don't need to cook it...and it's not a stupid question :) </p>
Luv the project! It's really cold where I am right now- I can't wait to have these in my pockets for the whole day!
<p>hello. I'm just looking at these amazing diys and wanting to make them. But can't. :( I don't have a microwave :( will an oven work just fine? I have everything else ?</p>
Hi Niki, I wouldn't use an oven go price a microwave some are pretty cheap. Just wanna keep you safe. Good luck.
My son wanted me to make these for him right away, but I didn't have the cotton fabric, and my sewing machine was not set up, so I cut the two pockets out of a pair of his sweatpants, that did not fit him anymore, filled the pockets with rice and hand stitched the opening closed. He can use these to keep his hands warm today and I will make the covers on my sewing machine,while he's at school! <br>He goes scouting for deer, with his dad, so I'm going to put pockets in his vest, so he can put a couple of these in the pockets to keep him warm! <br>Thanks so much for the great ideas!
<p>Hi Abby - so happy to hear you made this and your son likes them, etc. :) My always wants to make my big one..I need to make some more! I love using them in the winter, at night, when going out to my car and freezing (we are in WI/IL area) so it gets really cold. I hope you guys love them and they last a long time! :) </p>
I'm actually going to pick up a double layerd pair of fleece gloves for my son this week, and opened them up enough to pour a bit of rice into each finger slot, and then sew them back up. I tried it on an old single glove that he had in his drawer! It worked! <br>Now he wants me to make some for his carpenter pants pockets! He likes to stay very warm while waiting for his bus on our 3 season porch! We are from NH! It's warm as toast here today, I have all of my windows open, no snow so far, but it's cold at 6:30 am! <br>Again thanks so much for the ideas, one idea is just turning into more!<br> Sincerely, Gale
<p>I only have brown rice (not instant), can I use that or should I buy some white rice?</p>
<p>I am so sorry for not replying a year ago..did you end up making them and if so, how did they turn out? When I used brown rice it had an off smell when heated up repeatedly....so for me I would try to stick with white rice...</p>
<p>This is my first project ever on the sewing machine (aside from sewing a few scraps to get the feel of it) and even though Im not perfect, Im actually really proud of this and wanted to thank you for your clear &amp; precise instructions :)</p>
<p>I meant two years ago :( Thank you for sharing your photo anyway - super cute and great job!</p>
<p>First - I am SO Sorry for not seeing this and replying a year ago!!! WOW I am impressed and they look gorgeous - love hte fabric and clean stitches - you did an amazing job!</p>
omg perrttfect gift thx
Cool&iexcl;!&amp; good job
Thanks so much!
These are really cute. I have always made mine with Ski Socks and tossed some Jasmine rice and dried lavender in and tied a knot. The downfall is that over time the rice breaks down and little pieces start getting left in the bed when you are snuggling with them. The upside is that the ski socks hold heat a really long time. I like the fact that you doubled the fabric so you can wash the outside. Great Job!
Thanks so much! :) That's a great idea too! I tried to make sure to do a double seam or really strong seam for that reason! You could possibly sew a seam across one end..unless it's too thick...:) About how long does yours stay warm? :) Good to know about different fabric choices - I didn't think about it before. And prior to making these I also just tied a knot at the end of a pillowcase that had a lot of rice in it and used that. :)
Your welcome :) On average they stay warm about 3 hours, I do think they retain my body heat more too. I use mine under my neck at night and I have had times where it still feels warm in the morning. I may try getting or making a liner sock for it to keep the small pieces from coming through. I did make a square one once out of two socks and put Velcro on the end so it could be refilled with new rice and lavender. Word of advice, if you do ever use a sock make sure it does not have the arch support area, it makes it a weird shape.
You can also throw some dried lavender or other herb in with the rice - smells great when you heat them up. ;-)
Wow thank you for that awesome suggestion!!! I had heard of putting essential oils in it but I didn't care for that idea...but dried lavender sounds very nice!
how do you heat them? Are they the microwave ones? if so, how long do they need?
Sorry for not explaining that in more detail - I just added it to the final step. The large heating pads take about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes in the microwave to get nice and hot. The first time you heat it - you may want to just put it in for a minute, then check it and flip it if needed. Then if not warm or hot enough, add another minute. My microwave takes 2 minutes to fully heat the full size heating pad - and it's pretty hot (so be careful). <br> <br>The small hand-warmers take only 30 seconds to a minute in the microwave to heat up. <br> <br>The large one stays warm for about an hour - sometimes longer, sometimes less!

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Bio: Army Vet. I love learning &amp; being creative.
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