Saturday, January 21, 2012

Functional art....homemade heating pad

 My sister made me a flannel heating pad, filled with rice, several years ago and I loved it! However, over the course of a few moves it got lost, and I really could have used it last week, when I had a pinched something in my neck/shoulder area. Conventional hot or cold pads are square or rectangular, and never seem to fit where you really need them.

So I decided it was time to make another one. I had some old t-shirts laying around that were too soft and wonderful to throw away and just waiting for a new life, as well as some lovely Anna Maria Horner little folks flannel. Gray and yellow is one of my favorite colour combinations, and I decided to wing it.

I forgot to take pictures until after I had cut out the fabric, since it belatedly occurred to me that it would be a useful tutorial to share. The process was fairly straightforward however, and very easy. I simply cut out hat looked like a very large eye mask. I wanted it to dip in the middle, so that it could comfortably sit around my neck and still cover a fair amount of my shoulders without slipping all over the place. Once the t-shirt was cut out, I ironed the fabric, and backed it with a lightweight interfacing to stabilize it and keep it from stretching out too much when filled.

 Once that was done, I cut out the flannel and played around with the placing until I liked it, then pinned it in place. You could of course also apply iron on adhesive to the back to keep it in place while you sew over it. I just didn't want the sewing needle to get too gummed up.

 Then came the somewhat tedious task of sewing around the perimeter of each raw edge, as well as following the lines of the hidden layers.

 Once it's finished it resembles a lightly padded quilt :)

 I found it useful to turn it around and check the pattern on the back to make sure I hadn't missed any areas.
 Place the two pieces, right sides together, and pin in place. Trim around the outside where needed, since the top layer may draw together a bit with all those seams. Sew around the perimeter with either a serger, or with a single, and then a zig zag stitch on a regular machine. Leave a four or five inch gap on one end, and flip the whole thing right side out.
 You can fill the bag with anything from rice, to beans, to lentils...whatever you have on hand.
Clamp the open end shut from time to time and flatten the bag out to check the fill level. You don't want it too full, or it will be really heavy and bulky and take forever to heat up.

 Once you get it to the fullness you want, sew the open end shut.

 And enjoy!!!

 Place in the freezer if you frequently use a cold pack, or put in the microwave for 4-8 minutes (depending on the size and fullness of your bag, and the level of heat you want)
Take it out partway through and shake the beans up to ensure even heating.

 I absolutely love how it turned out, and think I will use the same fabric to make new pillow covers for our couch :)


  1. Cute, and quite a bit of work, but cool scallops.

  2. From start to finish it took me about an hour and a half, but most of that time was spent playing around with fabric placement lol. The flannel already had the wavy pattern on it, so I just had to cut it out, which saved time. The only thing I would change is to make it two fill it halfway, sewa along the middle, and then fill the other half, but I could always do that now that it's done as well :)

  3. Ummm...whoa you are AMAZING. A living sewing superhero!