Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Comfort and Joy with Selina....and her Rice Bag Tutorial ( some may have a headache lol)

Madame Samm put out a call for small gift Tutorials and I felt the need to give back. It’s the least I could do for someone who has done so much for all of us. Thanks,Madame Samm for your continued support of all things QUILT.

So let’s start with my disclaimer, I have never done a tutorial before.  Remembering to take pictures at every step was the most difficult part so I hope I didn’t miss anything important for all you visual types out there.   This is a wonderfully easy, and quick project that lends itself to multiples.  So let the fun begin.

What you need to start:
½ yard of 100 % cotton flannel/brushed cotton  for out pillow case
½ yard of 100% cotton muslin (any 100% cotton fabric will do) for the rice pillow
12 cups of regular rice (not instant or minute rice)
Cotton thread
Yield 6 Rice Bags, approximate size 5 ½ by 10 inches
Prep time 1 hour and 15 minutes for 6 bags

PART 1 – The Pillow Cases
Step 1 – 
Cut the ½ yard of flannel in half , giving you 2 fat quarters, each piece should have a selvedge edge 

 Step 2  -   Fold the cut 18 inch edge (the edge across from the selvedge) ¼ inch and iron, fold this over another  ¼ inch and ironSew this as close to the first fold as possible giving you a nice finished edge. If the other edge (selvedge) is nice you can leave it as is and go to the next step or you could trim off the selvedge and repeat this step and have 2 sewn finished edges.  Do this for both pieces.

I did one side with 2 finished edges and 1 with a seldvege edge.

Step 3 –  Cut both of these pieces into 3, 6 x 21 inch sections. The 6 inch edges will be the finished or selvedge edges.  These are your 6 pillow cases pieces.

Step 4 –  Place one of the pieces in front of you right side up.  Fold the finished edge over approximately 2 ½ inches, right sides will be facing.  Fold the other edge, the selvedge  edge so that it overlaps the other edge  by approximately an inch. No need to be exact.   Remember this is a fun, quick project not to be stressed over. Pin the edges at the overlap and place a couple more pins down  both sides. Repeat this step for all 6 pillow cases.

Step 5 –  We are now going to chain piece the edges of the prepped pillow cases. Sew down one side of the 1st pillow case in your stack, then the 2nd and 3rd  and so on.  Once all 6 have been stitched down one side cut them apart and run them through again closing the other side.

Step 6 –  Flip the sewn case inside out pushing the corners into points and you are done with PART 1

Step 1 – The Pillow

If you want, trim the selvedges off the muslin piece, I don’t.

Cut the ½ yard of muslin into 3, 6 inch wof strips, cut each of these in half.  This will give you 6 strips approximately 6 x 22 inches

Step 2 –  These pieces do not get finished edges.  Fold the first piece in half, 6 x 11 and sew one of the side seams.  START AT THE FOLD, and back stitch the first ½ inch. 

You don’t want any of the rice to escape, trust me, it try’s at every opportunity to slide away from your work area to any other spot in your sewing room.

Chain piece 1 side of all 6 pillows remembering to start at the bottom and to backstitch each one. Do the same on the other edge of the bag. If the top edges do not match perfectly not to worry they get folded up and hidden in the end. 

Step 3 –  Flip the bags inside out remembering to push out the corners.

Now is the time to make a decision. You have the makings for 6 Rice bags in front of you. Are you planning on giving any of them to an international friend.  Trust me you don’t want to pay to ship rice, it’s heavy. My solution is to make up a RICE BAG Kit, Include the Pillow Case and empty pillow and finishing instructions and the use instruction card. 
Since I make multiples of these whenever I make them I usually make enough to put a couple of sets aside for emergency gifting. Empty they don’t take up much room.


Are you making them to give to people for the holidays and they need to be ready for wrapping.

I'm assuming that you are going to give some away and keeping at least one finished one for yourself so keep going you're almost done.

Step 4 – You need to set up a work area where to the best of your ability  you can minimize the escape of the rice.  I take a large bowl and  put a large tumbler inside.  Place an empty Pillow in the tumbler and fold the edge down. This gives it a little stability. 

Now is the tricky part, you need to Pour 2 cups of rice into the pillow.  I pour carefully from a measuring cup becauseI don’t have the patience for a funnel. This doesn’t always work hence the need for the large bowl.

At this point the pillow is a little better than ½ full, this is correct. The goal is to have room In the pillow for the rice to move around so you can mold it a little, say around your neck, or knee.

 Now flip up the top edge and fold it over about ½ inch and then again.  I told you, you wouldn’t see that the top edges weren’t even. Pin in preparation for sewing.  Of course I would prep all 6, then sew them but since you want to see your first finished bag go ahead and sew the folded section of your first pillow across, twice, being careful to keep the rice far away fromyour needle.  That's why there are additional pins in the picture. They basically keep the rice at the far end.

Take the pillow and stuff it into one of the cases and you are done. Mush it around a little.  Now go and finish the others you can admire and test later.

You can sew them shut anyway you want just be sure to go across the top at least twice.  I switched to black thread so you could see.  They'll be in the pillow cases so no one will see them. ssh don't tell.

You have now finished 6 little gifts that keep on giving in under  an hour and a half. (that's 15 minutes each) 

 I have been making these for about 10 years.  Many of the people who have received them at the beginning have asked for replacements over the years. Several family members have reported them stolen by other family members. One per household does not work well. I personally have overcooked mine and it came out scorched,  be careful not to do that.  Someone gave me a store bought one made of a poly blend and it melted. Pulled the smoking thing out of the microwave and had hot rice everywhere.

Following is what I write on the tag I include with each pillow when it leaves my care. I hope you have enjoyed this tutorial and that it helps in some small way in reducing your holiday stress.   

Rice Bag
This is a great heating pad filled with Rice
Place the bag in your micro wave for 1-1 1/2 minutes
DO NOT overheat, the rice will scorch
The outer case is removable for cleaning
the inner and outer cases are 100% cotton
The content is 100% white, regular rice
This bag can also be frozen and used as an icepack

I’m having a little Rice Bag related give away over at   My blog

Please stop by and say Hi and let me know that you're interested. I'll pick a winner on Saturday the 31st.
Thanks for stopping by SEW WE QUILT.   Selina



  1. Cute, my daughter made one of these once shaped as a teddy bear, but left a pin in it and we had a wheatie/rice bag on fire!

  2. What a fantastic gift idea, I will make some of these to have at the ready for gifts and my children thanks for sharing.

  3. I love making rice packs for gifts. I often recommend that users put 1/2 glass of water while heating in the microwave to avoid scorching... It seems to work well :) like your idea for a washable outer!!

  4. Great! And makes quite some presents in one to make many happy (o:

  5. A super quick and useful project. Nicely done for your first tutorial. Anything that can be speed lined, assembly lined, thru the machine goes on my list - and you get several from 1/2 yrd, super!

  6. Thanks Selina for a wonderful tutorial...I know a few people that would love to get one of these...

  7. Good Morning Selina...ahhhh yes for the headaches, pains, yes this could be a very useful project for many lol. Love it..

  8. A rice bag is my best friend when I have a migraine! I made several of these a few years ago for my daughter's dance teachers. They loved them! This really is a great tutorial.

  9. Great tutorial -- and a great idea for a quick gift.

  10. Love it! Thanks for the great tut!
    I will be making these.

  11. Thanks for a great idea! I am gathering ideas for next Christmas, and this is definitely a keeper!! :)

  12. Great quick gift idea! I'm going to make some for gifts!

  13. Great tutorial! You didn't miss a trick!! What a great and quick gift!! I had never heard of putting the rice bag in the freezer! Sweet! I'm FOR SURE making a stack of these! Great for bazaar donations!!

    Happy New Year!!

  14. Thanks, Selina! I've made some of these and they are wonderful! I'm going to make one for the freezer - - hadn't thought of that one!!

    Happy New Year!

    Hugs ~~ Suz

  15. Great tutorial! I make them too, but use brown rice! Everyone loves them! Thanks for sharing!
    Samm her link doesn't work?
    Have a great day!

  16. Love your tutorial! I have made these for years. Two differences. I segment my inner rice bag by filling it a 1/4 or1/3 then sewing that section closed. I finish the ends of my outer bag with a ribbon sewed into the seam that I can tie around the end to close. I started making small ones that can double as cold packs too.

  17. Fabulous tutorial! I have something similar at home, but it is filled with something other than rice. Not sure what it is but it smells LOVELY when microwaved!

  18. que c'est gentil de nous donner ton secret !!!!!!!
    merci Selina pour ce bon tutoriel ,
    c'est une idée de cadeau que je vais me garder au " chaud "
    mille merci à toi
    bonnes fête de fin d'année
    bisous bisous

  19. great tutorial i will have to try this for sure :)

  20. Great idea for a useful gift. Thanks for the tutorial!

  21. I know these will be welcomed after the new year's eve parties that are coming up! LOL
    Great tutorial - thanks for the clear instructions!

  22. love the rice bag. I have seen them have a fragrance added too. I love small and quick projects to give as gifts for friends and pets.

  23. This is a great idea! Thanks for the tutorial that yields 6 at once!

    Jennifer :)

  24. Wow! Thank you so much for this wonderful tutorial! Gee, I'd never know it was your first. Very professional.

    I've been wanting to make some of these bag, and now you've made it easy for me. Thank you! I'll pin this on Pinterest.

  25. I have made rice bags of various sizes for my DIL who is a special ed teacher. She uses them for her students who need a little weight in their laps to help them center themselves and sit still.

  26. I have one of these rice bags and just love it! blessings, marlene

  27. Thanks so much for your tutorial on the rice bags. What a thoughtful, easy gift to make for a friend. Your explanation was very clear, and we appreciate your helping us out making these!

  28. Thanks for the nice tutorial - it is an improved version of my rice in a cotton sock rice bag
    Happy New Years - and I'm interested in your giveaway too - now returning to your blog.

  29. Great tutorial and thank you for this quick and easy gift idea. Gentle week...

  30. Selina, this is a great idea. Your tutorial was fantastic. Hard to believe that it is your first. I have a wide mouth funnel used for making jam, it would work great for filling the bags ( with a big bowl underneathe of course). Thank you.


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