My father-in-law is impossible to buy for. He has few wants and simple needs. And on the occasion that he does want or need something, he goes out and gets it for himself. So when I was trying to figure out what to get him for Christmas, I was drawing a blank. But then I remembered that his back has been hurting him, so I thought maybe a heated rice pack might be nice. He loved it.
I made it extra long, with curved fabric handles at either end, so it would heat all the way across his back and he’d be able to use the handles to keep it placed just right.
After I made the one for him, I thought maybe we should have one for our own house. It seems that everyone in my house gets weather headaches. A little bit of heat at the back of the neck is sometimes just the thing to help ease them away. The long pack wraps nicely around the shoulders to do just that. Or, if you want heat around your shoulder blades, you can also hang it off the shoulder to give heat all the way down.
When I made up the second heat pack, I went ahead and created a PDF pattern. I’m sharing that here for you, and also a tutorial showing how to make the heat pack.
This is a looooong rice pack. Like, 36” tip to tip, though only 28” of that is filled the rice. The curved sections at the end are left empty to create handles. It takes nearly 4 ½ cups of rice to fill it, so just know that it’s going to be weighted. Personally I think the weight feels nice across the shoulders, and really gets the heat on to my muscles nicely.
- ½ yard 100% cotton fabric (MUST be 100% cotton, unless you want a fire in your microwave)
- 4 ½ cups rice
- Temporary fabric marking pen
- Free pattern
There are notches marked on the pattern, but they’re really just optional when you cut out the fabric in case you want to be super duper sure that your fabric pieces match up. The notch markings on the pattern will be used later in the tutorial when it’s time to mark the stitch lines.
- Pin the two fabric pieces right sides together. Sew around all edges with a ¼” seam allowance, leaving a hole open at one of the curved ends to turn it right side out and to pour in the rice.
- Clip curves, turn right side out, and give it a good press.
- Place the heat pack on top of the pattern and use the notches to mark the stitch lines with a temporary marking pen.
- Now we will sew the dividers and fill the pack with rice. You’ll start at the opposite end of the rice pack from where your hole is. Sew the first line to create a handle section (with no rice inside).
- Use the funnel to pour 5/8 cup (1/2 cup plus 1/8 cup) rice in the hole at the top of the pack. Make sure the rice has made its way all the way down to the bottom, right above that first line you stitched.
- Pin across the next stitch line to keep the rice out of the way, and stitch the next line.
Sometimes the weight of the rice can make it difficult to move the fabric under the needle. I stacked a couple of craft boxes next to my sewing machine to create a little table to support the rice pack as I sewed.
- Repeat steps 5-6 until all sections are filled. Keep the last (curved) section empty to make it a handle.
- Hand stitch the hole closed. You’re done.
To heat up the rice pack, just pop it in the microwave for 1 minute. Then, place it on your shoulders or across your back or anywhere else you need a spot of heat.