Friday, February 5, 2010

Valentine's Day Redux - Heat Therapy Bag

Kellie is a crafter and tree-hugger who blogs regularly at Greenhab and the Green Phone Booth.

I've been working hard on a cute and functional tutorial for you all but, as things often do in the world of sewing, it just didn't quite work out as perfectly as I'd hoped. Instead of giving you a half-baked project, I decided to work on it for a little bit longer.

So today I'm recycling a project from last year around this time - the Heat Therapy Bag, which is a perfect Valentine's Day gift for teachers and daycare providers. Enjoy! I promise to be back soon with a great new project for you.

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.

1 comment:

  1. These are so cute! Lost the link, was going to make them for Valentine's day for my kids' teachers, but now will save it for Teacher Appreciation Day! (Gives me more time anyway!)


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