Every year around this time all the little carts get set up in the mall. You know, the ones wanting to sell you ring cleaner or a hermit crab, or a remote control helicopter? There is always a cart selling microwavable heat/cold packs. I love these and thought they would make a great gift for a lot of my friends and family, but at $35 a piece I knew that would add up too quickly for me. So I did a little research and drew my own pattern (using a heat pack that we had), mixed my own filling and was able to make six of these comforting packs for less than it would have cost me for one. Today I'm sharing the tutorial and the free pattern so you too can create a quality comforting gift for a friend or loved one (or yourself).
First go here to download and print the pattern. I like to fold the fabric right sides together to cut, so that I can just pin and start sewing.
Sew all the way around with a 1/2 inch seam, leaving one of the ends open to turn and fill. Constant use of these heat packs has taught me that it is a good idea to sew the inside curve twice. Just go back over it about 1/8 -1/4 inch from your first stitching line. (The rice is heavy and will create a lot of strain on this portion as it hangs over your neck.) Next turn the fabric right side out and press out the seams. Then sew all the dividing lines. These help the rice stay somewhat evenly distributed in the pack. I filled part of the pack here so you can see the dividers. Be sure to back stitch at the start and stop of each of these lines with several stitches because again the rice will create a lot of strain on them.
Once the pack and dividers are sewn you are ready for your rice filling. Now you have to decide what scents you want to use. Since this fabric already had a spice theme I decided to make this one spice scented. You can find essential oils lots of different places. I usually get mine at Hobby Lobby. You can find them with their soap and candle making supplies. Don't forget your 40% off coupon. For the spice scented pack I used cinnamon spice oil, plus some ground ginger and cloves. I had read that sometimes when people add things like dry herbs/spices it can cause the pack to smolder with repeated heating, so I try to steer clear of anything but rice as a filler. I think it takes about 2 1/2 small bags of rice to fill each pack.
Here's another mix I used for a different pack: lavender/mint, one of my favorite combos. I also love rosemary/mint. When adding the scent just start by adding a little and mixing it well, trying to coat all the rice evenly. Continue adding scent and mixing until it is actually a little stronger that you would like. Remember that the scent will fade and that it will be inside of a cloth case. Once you have the scent you like get a scoop and a funnel and start filling the pack, making sure to ease the rice in between the dividers.
If you plan to make more than one or two you might just want to pick up a big bag of rice. It's a lot cheaper. I think this one was about $15 at Costco or Sams. So far I think I have made about eight packs with it and I have only used half the bag.
As you fill up the pack try to fill it evenly, but don't over fill it. You want to make sure the pack is very flexible or it will not wrap well and will create too much strain on the stitches, ripping the pack. You also don't want it too sparse or the rice will all run to the bottom. It needs to be full enough to hold itself in place. I think in general I fill it all pretty full (but not bulging) and also leave about 1 1/2 sections empty by the open end. Finally, turn the open ends under 1/2 inch and sew closed with two layers of stitching 1/8-1/4 inch apart (as seen in the bottom left of this picture). Work the rice around to fill the last two spaces and you are done.
If you are giving as a gift make a tag with heating instructions. Microwave for 2-3 minutes. Microwave once in a while with a mug of water or tea to rehydrate the rice and keep it from getting too dry.
Enjoy and relax. See you soon for more gift ideas!