I love sewing, but I don't really like measuring and cutting. So, whenever I can, I create a project with little to no measuring and cutting out of patterns. Can you say, lazy sew-ers syndrome? I came up with this hot/cold pack when I needed to make a gift, but didn't have much time to make one. I loved it so much that I made one for myself as well!
This instructable is good for beginners, but you need to know basic sewing techniques, and know how to use a sewing machine.
If you are not familiar with hot/cold packs: This is filled with rice and can be placed in the freezer overnight to be used as a cold pack, or it can be warmed up in the microwave for 1-2 minutes (but no longer than that, you don't want to burn the rice!) and used as a hot pack. Personally, I love heating mine up and placing it across my shoulders to relieve sore tense muscles.
Step 1: Materials
You will need:
- 1 fat quarter of fabric. You can find this at any fabric store. I bought the fabric I used here from FreshModernFabric. (You can use a larger piece of fabric but then you will need to measure and cut it down to size. If you use a fat quarter you won't need to measure and cut!)
- Cotton thread. I used white to match my fabric. Use the color of your choice.
- Fabric Scissors.
- Point Turner. (If you have one. I do not, so I use anything pointy... usually a knitting needle, ruler and even sometimes the end of a paint brush.)
- Funnel. (If you don't have one you can also use a paper cup... or if you are brave enough, you can pour directly from the bag of rice into the hot/cold pack, but I think you might end up with more on the floor than in the pack;)
- 5 lb bag of rice. Any brand will do. I used uncooked rice (local grocery brand), not minute rice. I'm not totally sure if it makes a difference, but it seemed like the uncooked rice was a better choice, since I would be microwaving it A LOT!
- Lavender Essential Oil. (This is optional. I used it because I have it and I like it.)
- Iron and Surface to Iron on.
- Sewing Machine.
Step 2: Fold + Iron
Fold fabric in half long ways, with the right sides together. The right sides are the sides you want facing out when finished, for now they should be folded in and you should be looking at the wrong sides, or the sides that will be facing in when finished.
Iron all the wrinkles out. Make sure to iron on the folded edge, so it's nice and crisp. This will help you keep your fabric straight when sewing.
I don't usually have issues with fat quarters being uneven, but if you got a bad piece that isn't even, you may want to trim it now.
Step 3: Sew Seams
Now we are ready to sew! We are going to sew a 1/2 inch seam all the way around, leaving about a 1 1/2 - 2 inch open space for turning inside out.
- Start with the long side that is not on the folded edge. I always save the folded edge for last.
- Straight stitch the seams and then zig zag stitch over the edges to make the seams stronger. (Don't zig zag stitch over the space you left open for turning.)
- Stitch the same way over the folded edge as you did the other edges. This keeps a uniform and professional look to the finished piece.
- I usually make the opening on one of the short ends not too far away from the corner. (For reference, the start of my opening is 2 inches from the corner, but it doesn't need to be any exact measurement from the corner.)
- Snip the ends of the corners, so they will lay flat and won't be bunched up, when turned right side out. Be careful not to snip the stitches of the straight stitched seam.
Step 4: Turning
Now we have to take all that fabric and push it through the little opening we left. Once all the fabric is right side out, use your point turner (if you have one) or something that has a point, to gently push out your corners. I used a knitting needle. Be careful and don't push too hard to where you push through the seam.
Step 5: Iron
Iron one last time before filling it. Be careful around the opening. Make sure the seam is tucked in before you iron it. Give the seam a nice press there to make closing it easier later.
Step 6: Filling
Use your funnel or cup to fill the fabric with the rice. It's up to you on how much you want to fill your hot/cold pack. I don't like it all the way full. So, I use about 3/4 of the 5 lb bag of rice. You can use more or less depending on what you like. If you are using essential oil, add 5 drops in the rice before pouring it inside the fabric.
- I usually pour some rice in a cup and add the essential oil to the rice in the cup. Shake it up a little to mix it up. Add the essential oil rice in small batches between batches of the regular rice.
- The pack will not seem very full since all the rice will be pooled at the bottom, but after sewing shut and dispersing the rice, you will see just how full it really is.
- If you don't have a funnel this will probably be the most annoying and tedious step.
Step 7: Close Seam Opening
Once you have the desired amount of rice inside the fabric, it's time to seal up that opening. Make sure the ends of the opening are tucked in nicely. Then stitch a 1/4 inch seam, just over the opening area. I use the machine to make it quicker and you can hardly notice the seam. However, if you don't want the seam to show you could always hand stitch it closed.
Step 8: Enjoy!
That's it! You're done. Now pop it in the microwave and enjoy! Or stick it in the freezer overnight and enjoy tomorrow.