I was wondering what to make for the 'pocket-sized' Instructables contest, and in the end I decided to make something literally pocket-sized; pocket warmers!
Since I'm in the UK, it's at least a little chilly for most of the year, and I reckon that these hand warmers will be just the trick when I'm popping to the post office in Winter :)
I hope you enjoy this tutorial.
Step 1: What You Will Need
- Uncooked rice
- A spoon or funnel
- 100 % Cotton fabric: I used cotton flannel - the kind that is used to make pyjamas. This fabric must be 100% cotton (no cotton blend) and must not contain any metallic threads.
- 100% Cotton sewing thread: Again, this must be cotton, as any polyester or similar synthetic materials can melt or burn in the microwave.
- Sewing pins
- Rotary cutter and cutting mat (or fabric scissors)
- A piece of paper
- A pen
- Sewing machine or a sewing needle
- 'Magic'/Disappearing fabric pen or chalk marker
Step 2: Create the Template
Take a piece of paper and fold it to the size you want the warmers to be. They should be the shape of the pocket but a little smaller so that they won't be visible from the outside.
A big coat pocket is ideal for the warmers to go into, otherwise they won't exactly be inconspicuous!
Then add 0.5" to this shape along each edge - this is to account for the seam allowance.
Step 3: Cut Out the Pieces
Fold your fabric in half, with front sides together. This is so that we can cut 2 pieces out at once in the next step.
Take your template and place it on the fabric.
Draw around it with a disappearing fabric pen or chalk marker, then do this 3 more times. Try to position these outlined shapes close together to create as little fabric waste as possible.
Insert a sewing pin (through both layers of fabric) in the centre of each outlined shape, and a couple more at the fabric edges. These will keep the fabric layers together.
Step 4: Cut Out the Shapes
Place the fabric on a cutting mat and then use a rotary cutter and metal ruler to cut along the shape outlines. Make sure to cut through both layers of fabric at once.
If you don't have a rotary cutter you can use fabric scissors.
You will end up with 4 pairs of fabric pieces.
Step 5: Sew the Pairs Together
Keep the pairs of fabric pieces together, and insert sewing pins around the edges.
Then sew most of the way around each pair of shapes using a 0.5" seam allowance. Don't sew the entire way around though - leave a gap of at around 2" so that you can turn these shapes inside out in the next step.
I used a straight stitch on my sewing machine, 2.5mm long. You could backstitch the seams instead if you don't have a machine.
Remember to remove the sewing pins as you go, as you don't want to sew over them! Also, use a reinforcement/backwards stitch at the beginning and end to secure the thread.
Step 6: Cut Notches & Press
Take your scissors and cut off the corners of the fabric, as shown in the photos. Just make sure you don't cut too close to your stitches as you don't want to create a hole in the warmers.
This step is simply to remove some fabric bulk to make the pieces lie flatter and neater.
Then turn the fabric pouches inside out and press with an iron.
Step 7: Sew the Pockets
Now you need to pair up these fabric pouches by putting one on top of the other, and then line up the edges of each pair.
Use sewing pins along the edges to keep the fabric in place. You don't need to add pins along the 'open' edge where you left the gap in the previous sewing stage, nor along the edge where your hand will go into the warmer.
Then use the same sewing stitches as before to sew along the pinned edges. This should give you a pocket shape with an open edge where the rice can now be inserted.
Step 8: Add Rice & Finish
Then you need to add some rice to the fabric pockets.
To do this, use a spoon or funnel to add rice into the open edges of each pouch, so that each side of each warmer is 3/4 full of rice.
The rice must be uncooked. I realised too late that on my package it said that the rice had been partially cooked. Ideally, you want to be using entirely uncooked rice, but mine still worked fine.
Then fold the open edges inwards to make them neat and hide the raw edges. Pin these in place and sew along these edges to fully enclose the rice.
This completes your warmers!
Step 9: Finished!
Then all you need to do is put the warmers in the microwave for 20-30 seconds to heat them up.
Keep an eye on them when you do this - in case you accidentally used a synthetic fabric and it starts melting/burning (!)
If you don't have a microwave, maybe heat them on a warm (not hot) stovetop or similar.
I hope you enjoyed this project :)