A few nights ago I must have slept funny, because I ended up with a horrible pain in my neck. It got me thinking about heat pads, and how I wish I had one. It also made me wonder if it was possible to make them yourself. Well after a quick google search, it became apparent that yes you can! I found lots of sites talking about different materials etc... These things are so cheap and easy to make, it's actually shocking how much stores charge for the same thing!
This site has lots of good info. I like pictures though, so here we go:
1. Cut 2 rectangles of cotton fabric, leaving extra for seam allowance
I used a brushed cotton canvas on one side and a flannel on the other. Soft and fuzzy!
Wider rectangles are good for heat packs around your back and tummy, long skinny ones can be draped over your neck. You even make little ones to put into your jacket pockets for cold winter walks.
2. Sew around the edges, leaving a hole at the top
I used a 6mm (1/4 inch) seam allowance.
3. Press seams open and trim corners
Pressing your seams open will help your seems be smooth and clean looking when you turn your bag right side out, and trimming the corners will help you get better points rather than rounded edges.
4. Turn right side out.
After turning right side out, push out the corners with your fingers to form a point. Iron flat, and then topstitch around 2-3mm from the edge, except for where the opening is.
5. Fill with your selected filling
I chose rice, because it's what I had on hand. Other options include feed corn, buckwheat hulls, barley, rolled oats, flax seeds. All fairly inexpensive items. I'd like to also try using rolled oats as I've read that they are softer. Just DON'T use instant rice - it will burn!
Fill until it's 1/2 to 3/4 full when upright. How full you make it depends on how stiff you want it to be.
6. Sew opening closed
Try to connect with your same seams that you used for the topstitching
The ironing, clipping corners, and topstitching aren't really necessary, but they make it look prettier! The topstitching also makes the bag less likely to split open.
8. Warm it up baby!
Most bags will probably be warm enough after 1-2 minutes, depending on the size of the bag and the strength of your microwave. On the first go, to prevent overheating (and possibly starting a fire - eek!) I'd use 30 second increments and test in between until it's hot enough. Then you will have a good idea of how long it takes your microwave to heat up that particular bag. Keep in mind that the skin on your hands is probably less sensitive to heat than your back or neck. If you'd like some extra moisture, place a cup of water in the microwave as well or spritz the bag lightly with water.
CAUTION: Make sure not to overheat or repeatedly heat the same bag without allowing it to cool down first. Always place the bag in the centre of the microwave, and make sure it's not touching the sides as this can cause overheating.
9. Or cool it down!
You can store bags in the freezer. After taking them out they should stay cool for 20 minutes or so.
These bags are so easy to make, and are so comforting. They are also a great way to use up scrap fabric. You can also add things like lavender flowers for a relaxing smell. Make them out of a pretty flannel or cotton, and they can make great gifts!