Weekend Project:

Make a hot/cold pack from scrap fabric and plain white rice

Not being one for Easter-themed crafts, I thought I’d offer this wonderful item instead. I LOVE these things. They get me though the winter. My hands and feet are frequently frigid in the winter months. And when I say frigid, I mean they are incapable of warming themselves no matter how many socks or blankets I use. I have to have some sort of external heat source and I have never found anything that works better than these lovely things. And, of course, these make fantastic gifts! Create something new, useful, and make someone’s day! That’s Beneficent!

Basically, you sew fabric into a pocket, fill it with uncooked white rice, and the sew it shut. That is all there is to it. (You can also make a cover for it if you wish, because the bag filled with rice isn’t machine washable.) You just put it in the freezer if you want a cold pack in the future, or you pop it in the microwave for 1 to 3 minutes, depending on the size of the bag, for a hot pack. If you put one under the blankets with you in bed at night, it can stay warm for hours. They are great when you come in from being in the snow. My kids love to have them when they have a cold and can’t feel warm.

The one I made this week, is bigger than any I’ve made in the past. I wanted something I could drape across my shoulders or along my whole back to relieve tight muscles. It is about 28 inches long and 7 inches wide. I sewed it into several smaller compartments filled with rice so that all the rice doesn’t collect at one end, but stays evenly distributed along the whole bag.

Step One:

Buy yourself a bag of the cheapest white rice you can find.

Step Two:


Find some scrap fabric. In the past, I have used old flannel sheets, the legs of pants that have gotten holes in the butt, old pillow cases, scraps left over from other projects, etc. 

For this one I used an old pillow case, cut it in half lengthwise. I wish I’d had a more colorful one to use for the photo, but I like to use what I’ve got. If you can’t find anything, go buy something cheap. Cut your fabric into two squares or rectangles (or whatever shape you want) of exactly the same size.

Step Three:

With right sides of the fabric together, sew three sides of your fabric into a pocket. Be sure to leave one end open to make it easy to fill it with rice.

Step Four:

Turn the pocket right side out and fill it about 1/2 full of uncooked white rice. (If you are making a relatively small rice bag, skip to step five now. If it is pretty large or long keep reading.)


Here I left a 2 inch gap, into which I put a funnel and poured a cup of rice in. Then sewed the gap shut.

If you are making a really long or wide one like I did here, you can fill it a little at a time, sewing it into pockets as you go. The way I did this was I marked a line with a pencil every 4 1/2 inches across the width of my bag. Then, I sewed along the line closest to the bottom of my pocket, stopping about 2 inches short. Into this gap, I put a funnel and poured 1 cup of rice into the bottom pocket. Then I sewed the 2 inch gap shut. (I had originally tried putting the rice in before doing any sewing of the section and it was too hard to keep the rice out from under my machine’s needle.) I continued sewing sections and filling them until I got to the last section.

Step Five:


Once again, I left a two inch gap open at the top seam of my bag for filling the section with rice. After filling, I top stitched the gap shut.

Tuck under about 1/2 inch of fabric on the open end of your rice bag. Iron it down and then top stitch it shut. (If you are making sections, once again leave about a 2 inch gap open, fill this last section about half full with rice and then top stitch the final gap shut.)



Here’s the final product:



The sizes and shapes you can make these in is endless. The last time I saw one of these in a store (that was about the same dimensions as the one I made here), it cost $25!  These make great Christmas gifts, or a “just because” gift for someone who is an athlete, or who has a backache, or is sick.

Happy Sewing and Toasty (or cold) Toes!!