Winter is here and it sucks, but warm things make it suck less, and warm cheap things make it almost bearable to get out of bed. My favourite warm thing in winter are microwaveable wheat or rice heat bags. These are alternatives to hot water bottles that you can warm up in a few minutes with a microwave, and if you’re halfway decent at sewing they’ll take less than an hour to make.
What you need
- 100% cotton material a bit more than twice the size of your bag
- Sewing machine or needle and thread if hand sewing
- Rice or wheat
- Piece of paper
1. Cut two pieces of material to size. Leave at least a 1 cm margin all around because you’ll be flipping it inside out. For example, if you want a bag that’s 15 cm x 20 cm, cut your material to 17 cm x 22 cm.
(For the super lazy – fold one big piece of material in half so you only need to sew 3 sides )
2. Place the two pieces of material with the outsides (the nice sides) facing together, and line up the edges. Pin in place.
3. Sew around the edges about 1 cm from the sides, leaving a gap around two inches long on one side. I’ve double sewed for greater durability. If you’re hand sewing, make stitches smaller than the size of what you’re filling it with (I wouldn’t recommend hand sewing if you’re filling with rice, unless you’re a masochist).
4. My favourite part – flipping it inside out! Flip it through the hole you’ve left. Poke the corners with the back end of a pen to make them sharper, but it doesn’t really matter cos this is meant to be a floppy sack.
5. Make a funnel with a piece of paper and tape, with a hole down the bottom. Jam it in the hole and start filling your bag with the desired amount of filling. A good rule of thumb is to fill it so it’s an inch thick when you lay the bag flat (holding the mouth shut!), but it really depends on the shape of your bag and your personal preference. Don’t fill it too full or it won’t be comfortable to hold.
6. Sew the mouth shut.
7. Done! Make sure you haven’t left any pins in the bag. Test out how long you need to microwave the bag for by microwaving for a minute at a time.
Important! A Note on Microwave Heat Bag Safety
There have been a few incidences of wheat bags bursting into flame after being overheated many times, so keep an eye on your bag while it’s microwaving and don’t heat it too hot (it shouldn’t be too hot to hold). Give the bag a good shake when you take it out of the microwave so the heat is evenly distributed. The amount of fires compared to the number of wheat and rice bags out there is minuscule, but you don’t want to become a statistic.
I have about 5 wheat and rice bags at home now, and use them for helping me get to sleep, relaxing tight muscles, heat-treating a pimple, and just generally replacing the need for human affection in my life. Give it a go! You won’t look back.