Friday, January 23, 2009

Heat Therapy Bags ~ A Valentine's Gift

I tried my hand at making some "heat therapy bags" as stocking stuffers at Christmas. They were very well-received by family (or maybe they're just good fakers) so I decided to make some more - complete with tutorial this time - as Valentine's Day gifts for my son's teachers. I've vowed to have a complete Make If From Scratch Valentine's Day this year with no store-bought ticky-tacky junk...thus the reason I'm getting an early start!

If you're not sure what a heat therapy bag is, it's just a little pouch filled with rice, flax seed, buckwheat, whatever you'd like. You pop it in the microwave for a few minutes and it stays warm for long time. It's a life saver for cramps and muscle aches. And I've been tempted to just curl up with it on a few very cold days this winter. Here's the one I made for Christmas...




First I made the insides. No tutorial here because that part was pretty easy. I used some cheap muslin I had laying around and cut it into a 4" by 16" rectangle. Fold in half and sew up, leaving just enough room to stick a funnel in. That's where you'll pour in the rice. (I've seen people use beans too, but I was a little leery of the smell it might give off when heating it in the microwave.)

Mix up a big bowl of rice with a few drops of an essential oil you like - something relaxing like lavender. Then pour it into the bag using a funnel. Stitch up the opening. Since no one will really see this inside part much, I just sewed it leaving a 1/4 inch seam allowance on the outside and trimmed the edges with pinking shears.
Next you'll cut the fabric for your outer bag. I used a decorator weight for this tutorial, but I've also used upholstery weight and a very thin calico as well. They all seem to work just fine. This is the fabric my mom used to wrap up an antique map she gave my husband for Christmas. I thought that was a totally clever idea and thought it only fitting to repurpose the fabric for this project.

Anyhoo...moving on! Cut your fabric in a 4.5" by 18" rectangle. Fold in half with right sides together and pin the top and bottom.

Sew the top and bottom, then turn out. Voila - you have a bag. Easy-peasy! You may want to press it at this point.
Now you'll sew on the velcro which will be used to close the bag so that the inner rice bag doesn't fall out. You can use the little pre-cut pieces of velcro if you'd like. I happened to have this long strip of black, so I just cut it into pieces. you will sew this about 1/4 inch from the top (open end) of the bag on the outside.
Turn the top inch or so in (oh yes, I'm all about precision aren't I?) like so, and press it.

Pin it, then sew a line all the way around the top of the bag. I sewed mine just below the velcro. It's a little fidgety under the machine and you have to be careful not to sew the two layers together. Er, not that I did that...more than once.

Slide the rice bag in and you're just about done.



The last thing I did was to make a little tag with an explanation and instructions. I'm thinking some people might know what was, but others might just think it's a giant hackey-sack. Plus it's a whole lot cuter with a bow and tag. And I'm all about cute.

It says something like "place in the microwave for 2 - 3 minutes, then use on sore muscles or to relieve tension". I also put a disclaimer saying to spot clean and lay flat to dry. I'm not so confident in my mad sewing skillz yet and don't want anyones gift falling apart in the washer.


There you go - four little teacher gifts made from fabric and supplies already in house. Now who's joining me in the no-crap Valentine's Day pledge?

25 comments:

  1. Very pretty! I know those teachers will be tickled pink. I love the tags and ribbon, too. Adorable.

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  2. aw those are very pretty! What a great idea! Thank you for sharing! I'm sure your son's teachers are going to love them! Thats so much of a better gift then some stupid store bought plastic waste of space!

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  3. Very cute. These are also good for earaches. We just throw some rice in an old sock, but these are much more fashionable. LOL!

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  4. I love it! I am new to sewing, this would be perfect. Thanks

    erin in ga.

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  5. What a great idea! Makes me wish I had a sewing machine. Not that I would know what to do with it!

    Jennifer

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  6. AWW! That would make my day to get a handmade, useful gift like that. Great job! I'll be linking.

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  7. I need to make one of these...my feet get so cold at night and this would be the perfect thing for them...

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  8. I was going to make one for a pregnant friend of mine, but I have read that cherry pits are a good filler and hold heat for a very long time! Thanks for the velcro idea!

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  9. My stepmom made bags like this from fleece scraps and they were some of the best gifts ever! yours turned out so cute :)

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  10. I like them! I'm not very good at sewing, but I think I could handle this.

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  11. Those are awesome! I would love to make some, but I don't have a sewing machine. perhaps I need to have DH buy me one for mother's day.

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  12. Definately going to have a go at making these. I have some already (shop bought) that are a few years old so I can make some myself, brilliant. Margaret

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  13. I love these things. I use mine all the time and especially in the winter. I often warm it up just to keep my hands warm while I watch TV.

    Very cute!

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  14. My skateboarding grandson keeps one in the freezer to use for those inevitable bumps and bruises.

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  15. These are adorable. And, they sound easy enough for my skill set. Thanks for the tip.

    (I have a heat therapy bag made from rice put in a gym sock. My nephew gave it to me for my birthday a couple years ago, and it has been one of my most loved and used gifts ever!)

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  16. What a wonderful gift idea! Thanks for sharing.

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  17. These are very cute!! I think the teachers are going to love them!

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  18. Ooh...cute! And since I am my son's teacher since he homeschools, does that mean I get to make one for myself? Yippee!

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  19. Great job! I featured this today on my blog - Today's Top 20! Feel free to stop by and grab a button!

    Amanda
    todaystoptwenty.blogspot.com

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  20. So cute gift ideas! I like it. Wish someone also give me like that. Thanks for sharing! keep posting!

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  21. You can also put the inner bag inside a ziploc bag. Put it in the freezer. Next time someone gets a bad goose egg or needs an "ice pack," just pull it out of the freezer. It conforms to the shape of the owie and doesn't leave dripping water anywhere!

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