I have seen so many hot/cold packs being used but never did get around to getting one. Now I have a bit of a sore back from lifting a rather heavy 1 year old, I though it might be time I got on with it! But of course I wasn’t going to go buy one…
Everything I look at in a shop I check out how it is made and think to myself ‘I could make that’, then decide I can’t buy it because I should be making it! When I see someone wearing a dress or interesting clothing of any sort I have to restrain myself from asking if I can check out how it was made!
Back to the hot/cold packs, these are very simple and easy to make. You can make any shape you like. You could make all kinds of cool shapes but this one is going to be a plain old rectangle for me. Boring I know but seems the most practical shape for a lower back!
Ok so once I started I couldn’t help but make some fun shapes for the kids! This would make a great beginners or children’s project, super simple and easy but so useful. If you are a beginner start with a simple shape first!
What you’ll need
Fabric – 100% Cotton ( I haven’t tried synthetics in the microwave but I’m predicting that there will be some melting involved!) Perfect for scraps or remnants.
Fabric – Cotton Flannel for the lining layer
Rice – Plain white rice
Step 1 – Cut Your Fabric
Decide what size and shape you would like to make, and cut out two pieces of outer fabric and two pieces of lining fabric. There is no set size just remember that the finished pack will end up about 1cm (3/8”) smaller on all sides.
Step 2 – Sew Outside Seam
Lay your fabric in the right order first (lining, outer, outer, lining). Have your outer fabric with the right sided facing each other and sandwich it in between the flannel layers. If like mine your flannel is patterned you might like to lay the plain side against the outer fabric so that the pictures don’t shine through once it is turned around.
Pin all the sides making sure to catch all four layers. Leave a 5cm (2”) gap at one end. I mark this with double pins (see photo above).
Starting from one set of double pins (don’t sew in between the double pins) leaving a 1cm (3/8”) seam allowance, sew right around the whole pack in one go. Then stop again at the other set of double pins. You need to sew and reverse a few stitches at the beginning and end, or lock stitch if your machine has this function.
To get around sharp corners, sew up to the corner then stop, leave the needle in the fabric lift the presser foot turn (pivot) the fabric into the right position lower the presser foot and carry on! If you would like more information on this step check out the Celebration Bunting Tutorial.
Now you need to trim the corners so this it will sit nicely once turned around the right way. For right angle corners you can just cut the excess off like above. Do not cut the stitching!!
For rounded corners you will need to cut into the seam allowance like shown on the heart above. You will also need to cut in for the internal corners (the upper V shape of the heart).
Now it is time to turn it round the right way. Feed the fabric through the gap you left, making sure you are feeding two layers on each side. Like I am holding it open in the photo above.
Step 3 – Topstitch, Fill with Rice and Close Seam
Here it is all turned around the right way. There are some tips to get this sitting nicely in the Celebration Bunting Tutorial.
Topstitch (sew through all layers close to the edge of the seam) right around the edge, but remember to leave the gap open! I used a 1/8” seam allowance but as long as you are close to the edge it doesn’t matter too much the exact width.
I used a funnel to fill with it with rice. You don’t want to over fill it as the rice needs to have room to move. This allows you to mould it into the perfect shape for your use. This is a personal preference but I would fill it between half and two thirds full.
Pin the gap closed and topstitch from the end of one seam to the other, to stitch it securely shut. You will want to do a lockstitch (sew and reverse a few stitches) at the beginning and end. I don’t imagine it will be much fun to clean up if it comes undone!
Step 5 – Heating or Cooling your Rice Pack
As a hot pack you can heat it in the microwave. As there are so many variables (quantity of rice, size of bag, thickness of the fabric, microwave wattage) I can’t tell you how long to microwave it for! You will need to test it out for yourself in your own microwave. For mine I tried 1 minute and this produced a nice warm pack but not a hot one, next time I will try a little longer. Remember to wait for it too cool if you are trying to work out the perfect time!
As a cold pack, you just store it in the freezer. You will need to store your rice pack inside a plastic bag (ziplock, freezer bag etc), you don’t want it getting damp!
Enjoy your rice hot cold pack!