Back a few months ago I came across a tutorial that Holly from Homebody did on making heat packs. She had seen it floating around the internet herself. Since we cannot seem to find our electric heating pad, I decided to make one myself. I couldn't believe how much better the heat from the rice pack penetrated sore muscles than our electric pad. I let Holly know that I had made one and how much I liked it. She told me that the rice is a wet heat and therefore penetrates better. (Her husband is a chiropractor.)
I gave the original one I made to my MIL because she has a lot of pain in her spine. She can't sing it's praises enough. She said it is so soothing to her. This is also the same sort of heat pack that my mom uses. Sometimes simple is just plain better. So, I thought I'd share how to make them as well.
I had bought this small tablecloth at Goodwill back several months ago thinking the material might be good for something. And at $1 I think it was a pretty good bargain. You can see I've used some of it already. This is what I'll be using today.
*I am going to make the packs straight from this material. But, I have also made some from muslin and used this to make washable covers for the muslin heat packs. The choice is yours.
Decide on the size you want your heat pack to be and cut 2 pieces of material the same size. This one is about 10" x 15". A square that is 12" x 12" is a good size. I have also made long tubes to wrap around the neck and shoulders. Really, it's just a personal preferance, not rocket science.
Place your 2 pieces of material together (right sides facing) and sew up 3 sides with a straight stitch. Leave 1 short end completely open. Also, the 2 long sides should be left open 1" from the top that is open. This will leave you with a flap to fold in and make a finished edge at the end.
Once the 3 sides are sewn, flip it inside out and press.
Now you're going to make the channels to fill it. I like to have 3. The channels will help keep the rice a little more evenly distributed. Figure out how far apart they need to be. Each of my channels needed to be just over 3" wide, so I marked them with straight pins all the way up.
When I got to the top with the opened end - I measured down 1" and put a straight pin in the opposite direction. This is my starting point for sewing my channels. Remember, I left an inch on each side open as well.
Start at the pin marking 1" from the top and sew a straight line all the way down the length of the fabric using the straight pins as your guide. Repeat for the next channel. Don't forget to back stitch at the top to reinforce it.
Now you are ready to fill it with rice or corn. You could also use dried beans. But, I like the rice. You can also add dried herbs if you wish. I added dried lavender. Only fill about 3/4 full. You want the rice to be able to move around a bit.
Once the pack is filled, fold each 1" flap at the top in towards the middle - meeting at the seams. You will have a 1/2 " flap now. Press it and pin it so the rice doesn't fall out. See the picture below.
I like to close mine off with 2 seams for reinforcement. I set my needle as far to the right as it will go and use my presser foot as a guide for my first row of stitching. Don't forget to back stitch at the beginning and the end.
Next, I move my needle back to middle position and sew another row with a 1/2" seam allowance. That's it. You're heat pack is now done.
These packs can go in the microwave for about 2 minutes (depending on how your's heats) to warm it. Or, they can go in the freezer when you need a cold pack. The weight of these is really nice.
Even if you have limited sewing skills (like me), these are very simple to make. I hope I made the directions understandable. Very simple. Very affordable. Very effective.