Bags of Warmth

posted in: Sewing | 10

 Cool weather is here, in fact we have already had our first frost plus a few more. This kind of weather just makes you want to get cozy with a shawl or an afghan and a little added warmth.  

I’ve been making these rice bags or stress bags for a few years now.  In fact one year I think everyone on my Christmas list got at least one of some shape or other.  Now you can go out and buy these items but I’m the sort of person that will look at an idea and think to myself “I can make that for less money.”


All you need are some pieces of material, some rice and a few minutes at the sewing machine. Don’t use the quick cook or minute rice but instead buy long grain or whole rice.

To make the long bag with two pockets you need a piece of fabric about 35 cm. long (about 14 inches) and about 15 cm. wide (6 inches). The best types of fabric are cotton or towelling.

  • Fold material in half (right sides together) and stitch around the edges leaving the end open.
  • Turn inside out.
  • Fold the top edges in about 1 cm. (half inch) in and stitch down the middle of the bag. This will give you two long tunnels.
  • Fill each tunnel with rice (not the quick cook type).
  • Stitch the end closed.

Warm by placing in microwave for 1 or 2 minutes. Check as temperature depends on your microwave. These rice bags can even go into the freezer to be used as an ice pack.

The C shaped rice bag fits around the neck and rests on the shoulders  I’m showing it separately with a rough pattern outline which was cut on the fold (obviously not the same dimensions)

making a rice bag at

The pattern is like a large letter C. It measures about 37 cm. long (15 inches ) but has the extra ends that will sit on your shoulders. At the widest part it is about 20 cm. in width ( 8 inches).  It fits nicely around your neck and you can feel the nice soothing warmth immediately. This one can be customized to fit yourself or the person who receives it as a gift.

  • Cut out pattern on fold of material. Cut 2.
  • Put right sides of fabric together and stitch around the edge, leaving a small opening to enable you to turn the bag right side out.
  • Fill with rice.
  • Stitch opening closed.

Warm by placing in microwave for 1 or 2 minutes. Check as temperature depends on your microwave. These rice bags can even go into the freezer to be used as an ice pack.

making a rice bag at

For the rectangular rice bag, about 30×16 cm ( 12×6.5 inches) You need to cut out two pieces of fabric, place right sides together, seam around 3 sides and turn the bag right side out. Fill with rice and sew the fourth side together.

heat packs filled with rice, warm in the microwave

These bags can be heated over and over again. When you decide to replace the rice, all you need to do is open up one of the ends, pour out the old rice into the composter and refill with fresh rice.  These rectangular ones are great for tucking behind your back.  You can even warm them up and pop them into your bed and your feet will be toasty warm.

Here is a poem you can print on card stock and attach if you are giving a rice bag as a gift.

rice bag poem at
making a rice bag at

The shape and size of the bag is only limited by your own imagination. There are small round or rectangular ones to tuck inside your mittens. Or how about a fun shape, like a fish or a bear for a young child to take to bed.

This is another poem that can be attached to a rice bag gift.

rice bag poem at
Making rice bags at

Stay warm as the winter chill sets back in.

sewing line
Homemade Monday feature

10 Responses

  1. kathy

    I want to first thank you for sharing this pattern and that I’ve added this to my list of homemade Christmas gift giving for 2019.
    My neck and back ache with the cold during the winter time so will make one for myself first…

    • Crafty Gardener

      Thanks for visiting and commenting Kathy, good luck making the heated rice bags. Hope you visit again soon.

  2. Margie

    I agree that this would make a great gift. I also like how the fabric can be potentially customized to an individual’s interest (e.g., favourite colour or flower)

  3. Teresa

    These are so useful, mas make great gifts too. Thank you for sharing at The Really Crafty Link Party. Pinned.

  4. Elvira

    Thanks for the Tutorial! We have very short winter here in Northeast India but I will definitely refer to your tutorial when I need to make rice bag warmer 🙂

  5. Julie

    A million years ago I used to sell bags like this at craft fairs filled with wheat!
    Our boiler is on the blink (hopefully fixed on Tuesday) so I’ve been using my old wheat bags to stay warm over the last few days. We only have 1 left though so are having to share it around between us!!
    Wheat is harder to get hold of in sensible amounts so I’m going to try rice and whip us up a few more.

  6. Michelle

    This is such a great idea!! It’s getting chillier here and I stay cold so this would be perfect! This would also be a great idea for patients going through chemo.

  7. Michelle

    I love these heat bags! Fortunately for me, my mom makes them. Everyone should have at least one. Thanks for linking up to Creative Compulsions!

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