Welcome back to the Sew Comfortable series! Today’s project will keep your fingers happy when the temperature is plummeting outside or if you just want to walk around the house with your own mini heat sources. (Not that we tried them out or anything…)
Day Two: Toasty good handwarmers
This project is a speedy one, but rather fun and great for instant sewing gratification. And really, who couldn’t use a few little bags of toasty goodness this time of year?
- 4 scraps of tightly woven fabric, each at least 5″x 5″. I used some Cotton & Steele quilting fabric leftover from a recent tote bag project.
- White rice, 3/4 cup per pair of handwarmers. Plain old uncooked white rice will do the trick here. Save the basmati for a good curry recipe!
Steps to Sewing
- Measure and cut your fabric. After a bit of trial and error, I decided 3.5″ square handwarmers were just the right fit for my hands and coat pockets. To have room for seam allowances and stuffing, I cut my fabric into 4.5″ squares. I made one pair of handwarmers so that meant cutting four squares. I used the same fabric for both sides of both handwarmers but you can mix and match to your heart’s content. I would suggest sticking to darker colors or busy fabric just because these will see a bit of wear from getting stuffed in pockets and being handled quite a bit. White handwarmers probably wouldn’t stay white for very long.
- Sew the squares together. It’s only step two and we’re almost done! But seriously, sew two squares together on three sides, with right sides of the fabric facing, using a 1/2″ seam allowance. I made my stitches a bit shorter than usual to make sure not a single grain of rice has a chance to poking through. Trim the corners, if you’d like to. For this project, it’s not necessary but trimming reduces the bulk in the corners inside where the rice will be hanging out and it also make the handwarmer a bit nicer looking. Repeat with the remaining two fabric squares.
- Turn and press the handwarmers. Turn the hand warmer bags right sides out. Fold raw edges 1/2″ to the inside of each bag and press in place. This step makes it easier to sew the rice-filled bags closed in a few minutes.
- Add the rice. 6 tablespoons of uncooked rice is the amount I used in each hand warmer. And yes, I used measuring spoons and yes, I’ll accurately measure out 6 tablespoons the next time I make handwarmers. Why? Because I tried other amounts and didn’t like the weight and feel and now that I’m happy, I don’t want to go through the trial & error phase again. That being said… your preferences might be different than mine so feel free to experiment with a different amount. Just don’t cook the rice first… Trust me, you don’t want that in your handwarmer! (Although it could be tempting for an April Fool’s Day prank…)
- Close the handwarmers. Since you turned edges in and pressed them so nicely in step three – this should be a piece of cake. Use three or four pins pointing away from the bag to hold the opening closed. Then add two pins parallel to the open edge to help keep the rice away from the seam while you are sewing. Fit the now-flattened edge under the presser foot of the sewing machine and stitch the opening closed, making sure to backstitch well at the beginning and end. I ended up bending a few pins that were perpendicular to the opening in the process but they did do the job of holding the rice back away from the machine.
- Heat and feel toasty warm! Try ’em out… I threw the pair of hand warmers on a paper plate and set the microwave for 45 seconds, hit start, and then waited impatiently. Less than a minute later I was holding two warm rice bags of happiness and my fingers were thrilled!
Since I had to run to the store, I decide to field test my new handwarmers and put them in the pockets of my long wool coat. They were still slightly warm to the touch after 30 minutes although the heat had faded entirely after 40 minutes.
One note of caution… please do remember that all microwaves are a bit different so if children will be using these, or if you are particular sensitive to heat, try heating the handwarmers in 10 or 20 second intervals to find the level of heat that is most comfortable. Or as I like to call it… use common sense.
And there you have it…. Sew Comfortable Day Two is complete… and definitely much warmer as a result!
Coming tomorrow… To Infinity & Beyond Scarf!