Introduction: Making a Microwave Heat Bag

About: History geek; sewing nerd.

Perfect for aching joints or warmth on a cold day, and really easy to make!

Step 1: Materials

You're going to need:
Thread (I'm using gutermann sew all)
Filling (Rice/Wheat/Feed corn/Buckwheat hulls/Barley/Oatmeal/Beans/Flax seed/Cherry pits)
Two pieces of a 100% cotton material roughly 14cm wide and 50cm long.

Essential oil (I've used lemon scent)

Because this project will be going in the microwave, a material that won't melt in heat is essential. For that reason I've specified 100% cotton. My favourite is flannel/flannelette/winceyette as this has a soft and slightly cosy texture while still being cotton.

"Fat eighths" are particularly good for this sort of project, especially when you have a lot of them in your stash.

Step 2: Filling Preparation (optional)

About a week prior to your project you should prepare your filling if you wish to add a scent.

I did, and so I put the rice I'll be using into a sealable bag and then added several drops of essential oil to it to my own tastes for how strong a scent I would like. It will dissipate some once it has been put into the heatable bag, so keep this in mind when adding the oil.

Seal the bag and leave to marinate for as long as possible before use. I usually go for some time between 4 days and 3 weeks depending on how organised I am.

Step 3: Pinning

Line up your two pieces of fabric with the right sides facing each other and pin in place round edges.

If you're a bit scatterbrained you may find it useful to mark with a pencil or disappearing marker a gap of about 4cm that you'll be leaving open when you sew.

Step 4: Sewing

Sew around all 4 edges, leaving a gap of about 4cm in one of the short edges for turning and filling.

Depending on how confident you are in your skill, aim for a seam from between 0.5cm and 1cm. I usually use a 1cm seam, but go as low as 0.5cm when my fabric is less wide than usual.

Step 5: Clip, Turn, Press

Once you have sewn your edges, clip the corners to reduce seam bulk and then turn your sewing right side out through the hole you left. Poke the corners through and then press so the seams look nice and sharp. You can skip the pressing, but the final appearance is nicer if you do press the seams.

Step 6: Fill

Using the hole you left, insert the filling for the heat bag. Aim to fill the bag to just over half way. You'll know how much more to add when you fold the fabric over. If the unfilled end is longer than the filled end, keep adding filling.

Once your bag is filled to the right level pin the end closed.

It's easiest if you can use a funnel for this step. In the absence of a proper funnel you can use a piece of paper or card that has been folded into a funnel shape.

Step 7: Top Stitching

Close the bag, and finish it nicely, by top stitching around the edges. Try to get this stitching as close to the edge as possible to make the closure of the hole as neat as you can.

I tend to start my stitching as close to the end with the filling in as possible and then move the filling within the bag as I need to so I can stitch all the way around.

If you find topstitching the whole outside rather difficult or fiddly, then you can settle for only topstitching the open end to make sure the hole is closed.

Step 8: Heat and Enjoy

Now your heat bag is finished! The amount of heating it will need will depend on both the filling and the density of the filling. I tend to start at 2 mins and decide whether it needs more or less from there. However long it is you decide on, heat in the microwave and enjoy!