Handmade Rice and Lavender Warmers

one of the absolute best things that i bought for myself when i was pregnant with our youngest was one of those heating pads that are filled with rice. you know, the kind that get heated in the microwave and provide a good hour's worth of gentle warmth. used it all the time and loved it! loved it so much, in fact, that it's been my go too "warmie" ever since. sadly, friends, said warmie has since soothed it's last tired muscle and had to be retired. not to worry though. making a replacement was easy and inexpensive and, as it turned out, the perfect last minute christmas gift this year.

i wanted mine to have covers that could be thrown in the wash if need be so i picked up a canvas painters drop cloth to make them because i love its "shabby" look and the light, solid color is perfect for personalizing. the materials don't cost much (well, they don't have to) and you probably have some of them lying around the house already. technically, all you need is rice and fabric but if you want to glam them up a bit, like i wanted to, you can get crazy. and, by the way, don't be daunted by the amount of things i used. you can certainly do less and it will still be fabulous!

the what
canvas painters drop cloth (the smallest size available - you'll still have lots left over)
1 yard unbleached muslin - 45" (i was able to make 8 with this amount)
rice (i used brown. the 99¢ store is a perfect resource for this, especially if you're making several)
dried lavender (i already had some on hand and also purchased some from world market)
loose leaf herbal tea
lavender essential oil
jasmine absolute essential oil
acrylic paint
foam alphabet stamps

start with making the insert that will hold the rice. cut the muslin to the size you want (mine was approximately 14"x9"). using 1/2-inch seam allowance and beginning with a short side, sew a straight seam that starts1/4 of the way up from the bottom right edge and sew around entire piece ending 1/4 of the way down from the top right edge (above your starting point). this will leave an opening. turn it inside out so that your seams are facing inside. press all around, turning in your opening and pressing as well.

after you've pressed your seams, top stitch 1/4-inch in from the edge all the way around, except for the opening. now, this next step probably isn't necessary, but i went around and zig-zag stitched over my top stitched straight seam because i wanted my edges really secure.

now comes the first fun part - filling the insert with the rice. i mixed the essential oils and herbs into my rice a couple of hours before i started because i wanted the smells to really hang out and scent the rice. there's no rhyme or reason to amounts here. just add as little or as much as you like until your satisfied and feel free to experiment with aromas.

i used 4 cups of rice per bag which filled it about half way. be careful not to over pack it. you want it to be flexible enough to mold to your body. sew up the open edge.

now for the covers. be sure to have already washed and dried whichever fabric you're going to use.  for me, this was the canvas. i searched pinterest for ideas and came across two that i liked: this one from V and Co and this one from The Tangled Nest. i went with the latter for the mere fact that i liked the design the best and it just felt more simple. no pictures of the process here so just follow the tutorial or come up with your own design.

i made some of these for our kids and wanted each one to have a personal touch. for me, that meant stamping on their name in their favorite color. you could do this before or after you construct your cover but if you do it after, be sure to insert some kind of cardboard behind the area that you stamp to prevent any paint from leaking through. after they were dry, i covered the name with a scrap piece of muslin and went over it with a dry iron to heat set the paint. i have no idea if this will make a difference when washing it in the future but seamed like the thing to do. heat set ink or fabric paint may have been the better option here.

after that, sit back and admire your handiwork! these smell wonderful and the kids loved having their very own warmie to use whenever they want. to use, just remove the insert from the cover and heat in the microwave for 2-3 minutes depending on your microwave and how hot you want your warmie to be. please be careful when removing and placing the insert as it will be hot.

just a little note. don't feel that you have to purchase new fabric for the insert or cover. old sheets and pillow cases are great alternatives to muslin and i also made two covers from an old quilt and some upholstery fabric that i had on hand. it's a great way to upcycle.

enjoy! and happy new year!!!

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