Easy to Make: Hot or Cold Therapy Rice Bags
Kids are back in school, it’s finally starting to cool off a bit and TV is about to get good again. Signs all point to it being Fall soon!
When it starts to get chilly, I start to get achy. Maybe I’m getting old or maybe it happens to everyone. Either way, I have a nifty little project so you’ll be all set to heat or chill sore muscles or make your bed nice and toasty when the cooler temperatures hit: homemade rice bags!
Rice bags are easy and very inexpensive to make. I’ve never given one as a gift that wasn’t incredibly well received. If you’ve not seen one before this is the basic gist: you have a pillow that is filled with rice which retains heat and cold. You toss it in the microwave, oven or freezer and then use as needed. This project is the same with one small exception… we’re also going to make a case to cover it that can be easily removed and washed. Because, after all, something like has potential to get funky.
If you’re intimidated by the idea of sewing, don’t be. This is a very easy project for beginners!
For this project you will need:
- 1/4 yard white cotton fabric
- 1/4 yard decorative fabric
- 1/4 yard complimentary decorative fabric
- rice (not instant)
- sewing machine or needle and thread
- fabric marking pen
- yardstick or ruler
Step 1: Trim your white fabric into a rectangular shape. Think about the person who will be using this bag the most. You’ll want a smaller sized bag for a child than you would an adult. Does this person have a bad back that they will be using it for frequently? If that’s the case you’ll want the size to be close to the width of their back. If they tend to suffer a sore neck, you might want to make it long and skinny to wrap around like a scarf. If you just want to make a generic size, I find that 7 inches by 9 inches is typically good for most people.
Take your measuring stick and fabric marking pen and draw straight lines all around. Follow these with your needle and thread or while machine stitching. The end results will be a perfectly shaped bag.
Step 2: When stitching your bag closed, leave an area unstitched and untrimmed that is large enough to accomodate your funnel. Trim up all other areas and turn your bag inside out (effectively making it right side out!).
Step 3: Place the end of your funnel inside of your bag and slowly fill with your dry rice. I like to buy a large bag of broken rice from the Asian market. It’s inexpensive and the pieces are really small making the bag feel softer than with, say, long grain rice. Fill the bag until it is about half to three quarters full. Remove funnel and spread the bag out and feel out how the amount of rice feels. This is your chance to add more rice if you would prefer. Take care not to overstuff, though, as that will make the bag very, very uncomfortable to use.
Step 4: Use your needle and thread to stitch your funnel opening closed.
Now we’re going to make a cute and functional case for your bag. This part is optional and in no way affects the functionality but for the sake of cleanliness, I highly recommend it.
Step 5: Take your main decorative fabric double over. Place the folded section on the left side and place your rice bag on top. Trim the fabric so that you have half to three quarters of an inch of extra all around the bag.
Step 6: Take your decorative trim fabric and cut into strips about double the width you would like on the edge of the pillow case. See the picture at the beginning of the post if you’re not sure what I’m talking about. I cut mine 3/5 inches wide. Fold your fabric over and use a hot iron to press down.
Step 7: Place the pressed end of one of your strips on top of the edge of your case and pin down. Repeat for the other side with the other strip.
Step 8: Turn your pillow case inside out so that the wrong side of the fabric is facing you. Machine stitch your flaps onto your case (the red line) for each side first. Next, stitch up the top and bottom of the case (the blue lines) to finish the pouch off.
Step 9: Neatly trim your bag, turn inside out and give a nice press for good, clean lines. Toss your rice bag inside.
Step 10: There are several ways to use your bag. Toss in the freezer for a couple of hours for cold therapy- or better yet, make one just to stay in the freezer ready for immediate use as needed. For heat, toss in the microwave for about 3 minutes. You may find that you need to add or subtract a bit of time for your specific microwave, but 3 minutes is a good place to start. If you don’t have a microwave, like me, toss in your oven at 200 degrees for about 30 minutes – BUT- only use the oven method IF you use 100% cotton. If you prefer wet heat, lightly spray your bag with water prior to heating. When heating or cooling, first remove from your decorative case.
If giving as a gift, you can make a cute tag with directions and to your bag with some pretty ribbon and tiny safety pins!