Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Handmade Christmas - Hot Thing

My sister and I grew up using these rice filled packs constantly during the cold New England winters (because my Dad kept the thermostat so low to save money). In fact, we still use these rice filled packs for aches and pains and to just stay warm (because now I keep our thermostat low to save money too). We affectionately refer to them as "hot things." After many years of use, my hot thing needed to be replaced and I could not find one for sale anywhere. So I decided to make my own, and it was super easy. Now I make hot things for gifts; perfect for your girlfriend, neighbor, co-worker, or family member. Even men love these hot things. I make them with soft flannel fabric filled with scented rice, so it smells wonderful every time you heat it. This is a great handmade gift to make and give this Christmas. Come on, I'll show you how!
To start you will need the following:
16 by 12 piece of flannel or cotton fabric (will make one 8 x 12 hot thing)
4 cups of long grain rice
scented or essential oil
This step is completely optional, but I find it adds a nice touch. Put four cups of long grain rice (do NOT use minute rice!) in a big ziplock bag and add several drops of your favorite scented or essential oil. I love the scented oils from The Body Shop, and used a pumpkin nectarine scent for these hot things. Bath & Body Works also sells scented oils or you can find essential oils at most health food stores. Close the bag and shake it around to distribute the scent.
Iron your fabric. I am big on ironing when sewing. It really makes it much easier to sew straight and gives your project a more finished look.
Fold your fabric in half and cut a 8 x 12 piece of the folded fabric (giving you a 16 x 12 piece unfolded). Use a rotary mat and cutter to ensure the straightest cut.
Pin right sides together, leaving a 2-3 inch spot at the end open to turn the fabric right side out after it is sewn together.
Sew all the way around (except for your 2-3 inch marked opening), and clip your corners. Turn right side out and iron flat again if needed.
Use a funnel to pour your scented rice into the opening. This is a good step to involve your little ones. They will enjoy being a part of the gift making process. I love how Sir Topham Hatt and his little blue auto made it into this picture.
Pin your opening shut and top stitch along the top, making sure to close the opening (you can also blind stitch the opening shut and then top stitch afterwards). Top stitch the opposite end to create a more even finished look. I leave the sides plain but if you are so inclined you can top stitch those as well.
You can present these hot things just like this or decorate it with a coordinating ribbon and a handmade tag (this one is made using a scalloped punch on natural paper, and then punched with a bird punch, and tied on to the ribbon with a piece of twine). And there you have it. A beautiful handmade gift to give this Christmas. Or any time of year.
Pop into the microwave for 2-3 minutes and it is ready to use!
All the awesome pictures in this post were taken by Travis.


  1. hey these are soooo cute!! Are these the things that you put in the microwave then on your shoulder or whatever?

  2. I think I'm getting ready for a new one!

  3. I had no idea these were so simple to make! Thanks so much for sharing - I think even I can manage to make some. ;)

  4. What happens when you need to wash it?

  5. I've made these many times. Sometimes with feed corn, but mostly with rice since it's easier to purchase. But I have never thought to add essential oils. Thanks for the suggestion!

  6. Is there a way to heat it without a microwave?

  7. Thank you very much for the wonderful idea. I may make one of mine a little differently as my daughter has problems with cramps. I may make it round and add long ribbon so she can tie it to her self. Thank you

  8. I don't have essential oils, but what about just mixing in some spices? I have lavender in my spice cabinet-would I still get the scent if I just mixed some of that in?

  9. Your rice bags are beautiful. I've made a much simpler version and people always rave about them. We keep a few in the freezer for boo-boos and they go easily from there to the microwave.
    Thought you'd enjoyed this little poem I found online a few years ago that I've included with the rice bags I've given as gifts:
    "This little pillow filled with rice, Is such a comforting device.
    Microwave for 2 minutes on high
    And kiss those aches and pains goodbye.
    Apply it to the troubled spot,
    The heat will ease the pain a lot.
    Or warm those little toes so cold,
    You'll find this nice to have and hold.
    Or freeze it for a little while,
    And fix that boo-boo up in style.
    Instead of a compress made of ice,
    Use this pillow filled with rice."

  10. I have one that is so old! I appreciate the tutorial. Surely I could manage to make one:)

  11. Hey Kris. Fancy meeting you here. I've made some of these for gifts this year and was reading here just out of curiosity. Thanks for the poem....I was planning on looking for something creative to attach to them, and now I don't need to. Thanks! BTW....I need you to msg. me your new address.

  12. Looks perfect. Perhaps my mom would like one...

  13. I've been looking for an easy tutorial to make these as Christmas gifts. And I love yours! Thank you for sharing!

  14. I have made these a few times for gifts and they are always well received! I like to make mine a bit longer and thinner than yours to go around the neck. I also make mine in muslin then make a cute pillowcase for easy washing. Adding dry lavender makes a wonderful smell as well.

  15. Gail - yes, these go into the microwave for 2-3 minutes. You can also put them into the freezer and use as an ice pack too!

    Publix Coupon Queen - unfortunately you cannot wash these. Some people like to keep them in a cover, like a pillowcase to keep them protected. And you can wash the pillowcase if it gets dirty :)

    Stephanie - I do not think you can safetly heat these without a microwave, but you can use them as an ice pack and keep in the freezer.

    Jacqueline - yes, you can def. use dried herbs. Lavender would be a wonderful choice.

    JoeandKris513 - thank you for the cute poem. What a great idea to attach to these!

    Thank you everyone for your interest and comments. I love making these and am glad to share it here! Andrea

  16. I got one of these for a gift and love it! Thanks for showing me how to make my own. It is a great gift idea!

  17. I am going to make some of these this year but I was thinking of sewing some lines from long side to opposite long side (distributing the rice as I go) in order to keep the rice from sliding all down to one end when in use. What do you think? If you think it would work I think it would especially help @Joan for her daughter to tie onto her crampy areas.....

  18. Hi! Thanks for sharing such a great tutorial. I'm hoping to make some of these for my Bible study ladies. =) I'm curious, do you double the fabric layers, or would one layer suffice? Thanks so much!

  19. Thank you for all the kind comments! These really are fun to make and give.

    Kyle and Sarah - yes, you can definitely do that. The size of the one I posted is smaller, so you might want to make it longer if you are going to distribute the rice throughout. It is a great way to keep the rice/heat even in larger sized ones.

    Sheena - I do not double layer my fabric, but you can! You can also make a cover for it, and place it in the cover once it is heated up.

  20. Maybe I'm missing something, but it seems like if you fold your fabric once and cut a piece 8x12, your unfolded piece would be 16x12, not 16x24. Am I doing something wrong?

  21. hi there! I LOVE this and am totally making a bunch for christmas presents!! I was wondering though, your directions say to use cotton. I've got a bunch of sheets that I've been using for different things and was wondering if you think it would be ok to use those instead of actual store bought fabric that's 100% cotton, cuz I'm pretty sure the sheets aren't 100% cotton. do you think that would be ok?

  22. Ky - yes, you have to use 100% cotton (I use flannel because it is extra soft) because you are heating it in the microwave and any other material might be flammable. If your sheets are all cotton, go for it. If they contain polyester it can catch fire when you are heating it. Hope that helps!

  23. Thank you SO much for this fantastic idea. I just made two--one for my sister-in-law and one for my church's Christmas party where we had to bring something related to "warmth." They turned out so cute. I think I may surprise my husband with one for Christmas.

  24. First, LOVE the idea and am trying to make 2 of them RIGHT NOW!!!, but have a question: What is the final size of these? Because 16x24 folded in half isn't 8x12. It's either 8x24 or 16x12 depending on which direction you fold it. I think maybe you meant to start with a piece of fabric that's 16x12 and then fold that in half to get 8x12?? Unless you are supposed to fold in half and then in half the other way? And if so, how do you sew that?? Thanks again for this wonderful idea that will cross 2 people off my list!!

  25. Courtnay & Manissa - you are correct, my mistake! I fixed the post so it now reads correctly. You should use a piece of fabric that is 16 x 12, and once folded it is 8 by 12. I am sorry for the confusion...that's what happens when you write the directions after the fact with two little rascals distracting you :) Thank you for commenting and pointing out the error. Merry Christmas! I hope you enjoy making your "Hot Things."

  26. where did you get your cute fabric?

  27. If you have are outgrown long pants (tracky-dacks, pjs,jeans, clown pants ...) cut the bottom legs off and stitch up. Long legs make great neck warmer/pain easers. With 2 sides already done they are very quick.

  28. Thank you so much for the tutorial. I have been making this as gifts for family and friend and they always always treasured it. Thank you!

  29. Thank you so much for the tutorial. I have been making this as gifts for family and friends and they all LOVE it. Thank you!



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