Wednesday, April 9, 2014

"H" is for Heating Pad

We've made it all the way to letter H.

And H is for heating pad. Or…maybe horrible…as in horrible pictures...

Sometimes when you do a project, you get a little wrapped up in what you're doing and then your photography suffers. (Or maybe even doesn't even exist because you completely forgot that you might want to blog about this some day. That never happens, right?)

Well...okay, so that kind of happened once. Before this morning, the pictures for this project were unbelievably awful. I mean just terribly embarrassing. So I did what any crazy crafter would do and remade the project today with new pictures for the post. They're a mediocre improvement.

This project is a relatively easy one. I made the new one from start to finish (including pictures and a small break for laundry) in under two hours. So...are you ready for a post on a nice easy project with a bunch of mediocre (and a couple of horrible) pictures? Super. Because I just happen to have one.

The nice part is that (even if you have crummy pictures) this project is pretty easy to figure out and complete. You only need about a quarter of a yard of fabric, some rice, and a sewing machine.

This time around, the fabric I used actually came from a stash of scrubs that I had left over from the office. I'm a big fan of repurposing fabric. It makes projects so much more affordable.

Nothing fancy needed in the rice department. In fact, I'm pretty sure this was the cheapest bag of rice on the shelves when I bought it.

Start by cutting out two equal pieces of your fabric. You can make different sizes depending on what area the body are trying to work on. For my project, I made a heating pad for the neck and shoulders. I started by cutting out two 8" x 18" pieces of my blue fabric. I then cut out two 9" x 20" pieces of the floral pattern (to be used as a washable cover). You can actually cut the cover pieces smaller, as mine ended up with some extra fabric to fold. Just allow about a 1/4" of additional fabric on each edge and you should be fine.

I pinned the two right sides of each fabric together (right being the sides that would eventually be the outsides for those of you who don't regularly sew).I stitched down one side, across the bottom, and back up the other side. The top edge remained unattached. That was my opening for what was now just a nice little bag. I cut the bottom corners at an angle to make flipping the bag inside out with clean, sharp corners easier.

For the cover bag, I folded down the top edge of one side and stitched it back about 1". The other top edge was hemmed to create a nice edge...this one would be the folding flap.

Now, you get a couple of the older horrible pictures because I failed to take pictures of one step...filling the bag. The original heating pad was made for my brother-in-law, who loves to hunt. Thus the camo fabric. In the original project, I used pins to separate the bag into six equalish sized compartments. In the new version, I simply used my chalk pencil to draw lines and only made five compartments. Honestly, the chalk pencil version went easier.

This is where both my sewing and photography in the original project got horrible. I placed rice into the bag up to about the first and line of pins. There is a learning curve to this step. With the first project, I made a large mess and had trouble keeping my stitching straight. As usual, when things got tough, I got cursing. There was rice everywhere.

Here's what I changed on the second go round (which worked immensely better). Stitch about 3/4 of the way across the compartment line. Dump in your rice (I used about 1 cup of rice per compartment). You can put the rice in using a funnel to direct it straight into the section, or you can shimmy it in by shaking the bag. The funnel works best for the last compartment. I used the shaking method for the rest.

Once the rice is in, start at the other side of the bag and stitch the remaining 1/4 of the length, matching up to your earlier stitched line.

Continue pouring in rice, sewing, and swearing until you fill all of your compartments. At the last compartment, fold the fabric in on itself to create a nice, folded outer edge. Stitch in slightly from the edge to close the bag. (I still used the 3/4 and 1/4 method to sew this last kept the rice somewhat under control.)

With the main heating pad completed, I went to work on finishing the cover. I added a couple of buttons to the lower edge and matching button holes to the top. I slid the heating pad inside the bag and buttoned it shut.

You can see that I had a couple of extra inches of fabric here. Like I said earlier, you can safely keep pretty close to the measurements of your original bag without having to worry that the cover will be too small. You don't have to make a cover, but this way it can be washed without destroying the whole thing ( cannot wash the rice filled pack. That will cook the rice. Bad idea.)

Now you're done and you have a finished project. That's always the good part. 

The bag can be heated in the microwave for 1-3 minutes (depending on how quickly your microwave heats). It's best to heat it up with a cup of water along side it to keep it a "moist heat". Shake the bag a little after removing from the microwave and check the heat with your hand to prevent burning yourself with a too hot rice pack, then place it on the area giving you trouble.

It's reusable, there are no power cords to deal with, and (if you did a decent job sewing) it won't make a mess. (Though you will might make a mess sewing it.)

Not too bad for a small chunk of fabric and some rice, right?

Thanks to all of you stopping by from A-to-Z Challenge! I love new readers. Make sure to leave me a comment below so that I can return the favor by visiting you. 


  1. I've made a few myself, but I've never divided them. I'll do that next time.

    1. The dividers are definitely helpful in keeping the rice where you want it. That way it doesn't all slump to the end of the bag on you.

  2. I love these: they’re practical and really work. Back when I lived in upstate NY in a drafty old farmhouse, they were a must to stay cozy. Although, I’m not a crafty soul as a rule, I did actually make a couple for my parents who live in VT. Only I didn’t make compartments, but I can see that‘s the way to go. Yours look really awesome—love the cover with buttons—totally expert. Of course!
    Miss A

    1. I love the compartments. Don't let the buttons fool sewing machine did all the work. ;)

  3. Wow. I might try this without the compartments. I'm not sure I'm sufficiently proficient with a sewing machine for that.

    1. The compartments do take a little practice, but I was MUCH better at it on attempt #2. Just had to work out the kinks.

  4. Hi! Your post caught my eye because, well...heating pad! I use my elec. one all the time, and have actually made some rice bags (small ones, for the eyes, sinus, headache) and they work great! I may try making a larger one now! Great post!

    1. I didn't think making a small one for an eye mask! Great idea!

  5. I made one of these when I was pregnant for my daughter-- a life saver for my back!

    1. Oh, they are lovely. It's like having portable heated seats.

  6. Love all your creative ideas. These great looking Microwavable Heating Pads with organic fillers are a wonderful way to soothe sore muscles or just warm up on a cold day. I have had a corn bag that a friend made for me 15 years ago, I loved it, used it all the time!


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