I'm not sure if this post belongs in this category-- if not, please feel free to move it.
Hubs has the tendency to get migraines, and finds that a heating pad wrapped around his neck really helps alleviate the pain. We used to have one of those rice bags a long time ago, but it was 1) not shaped quite right, and 2) really ugly.
They are really easy to make-- definitely a project suited for a beginner with the sewing machine. Also well suited for people like me, who tend to hold on to those little odd shaped bits of fabric because "I might be able to make something with them someday".
I made this with a scrap of grey floral cotton, fabric paint, Sharpie, and used lentils as the filling, because they are a lot less pokey than rice is. I know that fabric paint and permanent marker probably arent supposed to be used in the microwave, but it's been fine so far-- no smoke, fire, or heinous hot-chemical stink. I figure it's an "at your own risk" kind of thing. Materials needed:
Fabric (scraps are fine! Yay for stashbusting!)
Embellishments (embroidery, fabric paint and permanent marker seem to be fine for heat or cold, you could add things like buttons or glitter or sequins if it was strictly used for cold)
Essential oils or dried scented plants (lavender or sage are popular)Instructions:
1) Figure out how big you want the heating pad, and what shape you want it. Long thin ones are good for around the neck, a triangular one is good for the lower belly, and chubby rectangles are good for knees, for example. I even tried to make a small star shaped one for hand and thumb injuries, but it needs a little more planning than I gave it... oops.
2) Cut two pieces of fabric a little bigger than the dimensions you figured out. You need to leave a little room for seam allowance, and also for the filling of the bag.
3) Embellish the fabric if you'd like, and allow to dry thoroughly (if you used paint). Be careful on this though and make sure that what you use will be okay for the person with the injury-- I really doubt glitter would be a good thing to put on a fresh incision, you know? Up to you.
4) If you're planning on using scent-- I didn't on this one, but have done before on others-- put your lentils/beans/rice/dried corn into a bowl, and mix with a few drops of essential oil or with the dried plants. Set aside.
5) Sew the cut pieces, wrong sides together, with a zigzag stitch. You'll want to leave one small side open for filling.
6)Flip the little bag right side out, and sew the sides you've already stitched on the right side this time. I used a straight stitch, but I'm sure a decorative stitch would work nicely too. The point is to simply add strength (you do NOT want one of these to break on you-- dried foodstuffs get EVERYWHERE) and to make the edges look pretty.
7) Take those lentils/beans/rice you set aside and fill the bag with them. You'll want the bag to be about 2/3- 3/4 full to allow for it to shape to the body. Using a paper bag or a funnel to guide them into the bag makes things much, much easier.
Pin just about where the lentils/rice/beans/feed corn ends (to keep them from falling into the line where you're sewing-- really messes things up), flip the ends closed, and stich closed. I used a double row of straight stitching on this one, but again, up to you.
9) Done! Hooray for you, and the lucky recipient of this practical-yet-awesome gift! Throw it in the freezer as an ice pack, or pop it into the microwave for about 90 seconds for a heat pack. Obviously, this will not last forever, but if you treat it right (ie, DONT GET IT WET), it should last a few years. Other uses:
These also work really well in cold climates-- heat them up in the microwave, throw them at the foot of the bed, go take off your makeup and brush your teeth, and by the time you're done, the foot of your bed is nice and toasty warm.
For animal rescue folks, little bags like these (unembellished, of course) are great for rescued kittens or pups that are still too young to be on their own or elderly arthritic critters. Don't heat them up past "warm"-- we don't want to burn the poor little guys!-- but they seem to like to snuggle up to these warm little bags to sleep.
Anyways, thanks for looking, and comments/questions/friendly criticism is welcome!