Introduction: Hot Hands

About: Teacher of Engineering & Technology, nerding around with a sewing machine, laser cutter and 3D printer...

These little hand warmers are great for walking to work in the morning in the cold... And for chilly nights at home too! They make pretty good gifts too...

You'll need:

A cotton/natural material for the inner bar (I used calico) - to make 3 required 300mm x 150mm
Covering material, such as fleece - for each one, I used 250mm x 120mm (each in a different colour)
Pearl Barley (around 100g for all 3)
Sewing equipment

Step 1: Making the Inners

I produced all 3 inner bags at the same time, like this...

Take the calico/natural material. Fold it in half longways, and mark off into 3 sections, as in picture 2. Started 10mm from the end, then measure 80mm from that, leave a 20mm gap, measure another 80mm, a 20mm gap, and then the remaining 80mm, which should leave 10 at the end (the blue lines in the photo). The red lines are the half way points through the 20mm gaps, as a cutting guide for later.

Sew along the blue lines, to create little pockets in the fabric, and then, cut each section apart from each other.

Turn the pockets the right way around (seams on the inside), and half fill with barley. Turn over the top edge, so that the fraying is on the inside, and pin shut. Carefully sew this line, close to the fold. This should completely seal the bag.

Repeat the final step with all of the bags, giving you 3 sealed bags. These are the parts that will be heated.

Step 2: Create the Covers

For the first 2, I didn't really plan very well - this version is fine if you don't want to decorate the bags!)

To make the bag:

Fold over the two short ends around 10mm, and sew to produce neat seams.

With the seams on the outside, fold the fabric into a tube, overlapping the two ends

Sew up the edges - I trimmed the excess off to leave around 5mm outside of the seamed edge

Turn right way round. This should leave the neat side of the end seams visible, and all the sewn edges on the inside, a little like a pillow case. Slot the inner bag into the cover - done!

Step 3: Personalise & Heating Instructions

Of the 3 bags I made, I decorated 2 and left one plain.

On the purple one, I created a shooting star motif using simple back stitch. Obviously, this would have been easier to do before I turned the fleece into the case........

On the blue, I got organised, and created my penguin before sewing up the fleece! I've uploaded a selection of pictures showing how the penguin was made. To make sure that the motif was the right size, I simply drew around the inner bag in about the middle of the fleece using marking out chalk, so that I could rub it off when I was done.

It's a small canvas, but the possibilities are endless!

Heating instructions: (feel free to copy and print these to gift with your hand warmers - there's a pdf of some Gift Tags that I've produced to go with mine attached, if you wish to use it; I just printed it onto some heavy-ish weight card, stick wrapping paper to the back, cut out, and hole punched)
Remove the inner bag from the sleeve, and place into the microwave. Heat on full power for around 90 seconds, shake well, and pop back into the sleeve. This should stay hot for an hour, and warm for 2-3 hours, depending on the wattage of your microwave and how hot it gets to start with.

Whatever you do, do not microwave the fleece, it doesn't like it!

I do not recommend using this with anyone under the age of 3.
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Sew Warm Contest

Participated in the
Sew Warm Contest