DIY Rice Warmers; A Lovely Winter Gift

I came across these lovelies searching for homemade gifts that friends and family might actually use and enjoy this season. As with anything I prepare to give or sell, I do a trial run first, and I have to say I am addicted to these cuties! On the colder days we’ve had lately, I have heated them up, tucked them in my pockets and enjoyed their warmth waiting in the car line to pick up my daughter. They’re also great for my morning walks to keep my hands warm before I start to “feel the burn”. Because let’s face it, when it’s 29 degrees outside, gloves aren’t always enough. They’re a very simple concept, and anyone with basic sewing skills can make them.

What’s wonderful is that the packs can be heated or chilled to be used for headaches, fevers, or my right knee after those aforementioned morning walks when I get a little bold. You can also make them small enough for your coat pockets, or big enough for back pain and stomach cramps. It’s a great way to personalize a gift with a special fabric print, or a wonderful way to use leftover fabric pieces that are longing for a purpose.

I always manage to find something simple and overthink it, so when I found several DIY’s on these, of course I had to slightly change it up and create a version with my own stamp on it. So here it is.

What you need:

  • cotton and/or fleece fabric
  • sewing machine
  • iron
  • scissors or a rotary cutter/mat
  • ruler
  • rice

First, as with most sewing projects you’ll want to wash, dry and iron your fabric to make sure it’s clean, to account for any possible shrinkage and to have a  smooth  as possible surface to measure, cut and work with.

For the above example I cut squares 6″x6″ which work great for a medium sized bag. After you sew it together it will come out to about 5″x5″. For smaller  bags to fit in coat pockets, I cut the fabric to 4″x4″ which sizes down to about 3″x3″ after sewn.

Here I used a fun cotton print for one side and a white fleece for the other. You will need 2 squares per bag.


Next you’ll place your squares on top of each other, right side (or pretty side) in and line up the edges. Fold over about a 1/4″ seam and iron flat. Then fold it over again and iron flat. This will give your bag a finished look at the end and prevent fraying.

Now to the sewing machine! You’ll place your fabric under the foot with your folded edges at the top. Sew a straight line with about a 1/4″ seam allowance. Back stitch at the top and when you reach your bottom corners. This will give added security to your bag.

Once you reach the corners, leave your needle in the fabric, raise the foot and turn the fabric back toward you to sew the next seam. Do this for 3 sides, but don’t sew the top shut yet!

Then I like to snip the corners a bit to help the shape of the bag when I turn it inside out. Also at the top corners to give a clean finish to the opening once it’s sewn closed.

And here’s where the magic happens- flip it right side out 🙂

So now you fill your bag with rice- don’t overthink this part, really any rice will do, so whatever you usually have in the cupboard should work just fine, or go buy a bag of inexpensive white rice if you plan on making a bunch of these. (And I warn you, they are addictively easy and adorable)

Fill each pouch to about halfway when it’s set on the table. You don’t want to be too skimpy, but you do want to be able to work around it back at your sewing machine. With the pouch on your table, keep the rice pushed down to the bottom and pin across the bag above the rice through both sides. This will actually be enough to keep the rice from sliding across when you get back to your machine. I also put a pin at the top opening just to keep those edges lined up until I start sewing the seam closed.

So now the grand finale! Place your bag under your foot to sew a straight line about 3/4″ – 1″ below the top edge. Make sure to back stitch at the top and the bottom. I also like to go across the edges just a bit to make sure no little rice grains slip out over time.

Then finish the top edge in the same manner, making sure to close up your ironed folds. Remove your pins, shake your bag and do a little dance. All done!

  • Heat 1 large or 2 small bags together 20-30 seconds in the microwave (depending on your microwave and it’s settings)
  • or Chill bags in the freezer for 15-20 minutes (or forget them overnight like I have and use them the next day;)

The bags will stay warm for about 30 minutes and cool about 15-20 minutes.

Enjoy! If you make any of these for yourself or as holiday gifts please share your photos and comments. Happy Winter!

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