I have the day off of work, so this morning (after dutifully spending some time working on my thesis) I tackled a project that I’ve had on my to-do list for ages. I love rice heating/cooling pads because they’re soft, weighty, and can be perfectly shaped and draped over any sore muscles in a way that regular old heating pads just can’t. Plus, you can make them smell good, which is usually nice if you’re feeling achy or sick enough to need one. This one smells like cloves and Christmas.
I made this up in about an hour, using a flannel fat quarter that I got for a dollar and a 2 pound bag of white rice. The finished heating pad is about 19″ x 9″, which is plenty big for laying across an aching back. The stitched “chambers” of rice keep all the warm goodness mostly in place, instead of just sliding to the bottom of the pad.
So, here’s the process:
Unfold the flat quarter and cut it in half lengthwise, so you have two 9″ x 21″ rectangles. Trim all the edges so they’re even, and cut off the selvage edge if it’s not the same color as the rest of the fabric (mine wasn’t, which is why my heating pad is only 19″ long).
With the right sides of the fabric together, stitch the two long sides and one of the short sides closed, using a 1/2 inch seam allowance. Sew in about 1.5″ from each edge on the fourth side – you’ll use the opening to add the rice. Clip the extra fabric on the corners at an angle, and then turn the whole thing right side out. (It’s faint, but you can see in the picture below how I left an opening in the middle of the second short side).
Measure the length of the empty heating pad. Divide this number by 6 and mark off 6 sections using a fabric pencil or chalk.
Now for the fun part – empty your bag of rice into a bowl and mix in whatever good smelling stuff you want. Essential oils, dried herbs, or whole spices are all options. The last heating pad I made was with lavender essential oil, and I used whole cloves in this one. Pour about 1 cup of the rice mixture into the bag, and stitch along your marked line to make the first rice-filled pocket. Repeat this until you have filled all the chambers. My seams at this point weren’t totally straight (it’s hard to keep grains of rice from getting in the way), and yours probably won’t be either. It’s difficult to sew straight lines when grain and gravity are at work.
Once you get the top pocket filled with rice, all that’s left is to close the bag up. Fold the raw edges toward the inside and stitch the opening closed, as close to the edge as you can make a seam. All done!