Heating Pad Tutorial

So this is a project that’s been in the back of my mind for months, but it took finding the perfect fabric to get motivated and get going on it.  When I laid my eyes on Amy Butler’s LOVE flannels, I knew it was time.  I chose this vibrant, yet soothing flannel and got busy.

See, there’s a particular day each month *ahem* that makes me yearn for a good, heavy heating pad, but by the time my body reminds me that I want it….well, I’m just too crabby to sew. 😉  This month, though, I’m prepared.

Gorgeous, right?  If only you could feel, smell and pet it.  It turns out that Amy Butler’s super-luxurious flannel + rice + lavender essential oils = heaven.  In case you were wondering.

I didn’t have the details for the heating pad worked out in my mind, but I find if I just start cutting fabric….it just all works out.  Usually.  This was one of those fortunate times and I’m thrilled that it only took my one shot to achieve the sectioned heating pad glory I was after.  I was nervous that I would fail at achieving the sectioned design that I was picturing in my mind, but I came up with a little trick that makes it super easy.

Ready to begin?  You know you want one!  I knocked this one out in under an hour while still in my pajamas this morning.

I interrupt to bring you this important message. I have found many, many people blatantly ripping off and even selling this free tutorial for their own benefit. If you feel the need to share my heating pad on another site, I would love that. But please DO NOT include the steps showing how to make it. Link back to this post. Do not sell the tutorial. Do not recreate it modifying my wording just enough to make it “yours”.  I appreciate links back and try to make sure to thank each one. On the other hand, I always try to call out copycats and thieves. Thank you and have a nice day. Oh…and enjoy your heating pad!

Cut two 19″ x 8″ rectangles of high quality flannel.  I bought 1/2 yard of this one and it’s enough to make 2 heating pads.

Serge (without cutting fabric) one of the short ends of each piece.  (I don’t like raw edges.)

Pin your pieces right sides together.

Serge 1/4″ along the two long sides and the other short end.  This short end will be the “bottom” of our project for tutorial purposes.

Then, on your open end (top) start sewing approximately 1″ from the side with a 1/4″ seam allowance.  Continue around the fabric until you return to the top edge and stop when you’re about 1″ into it again.  That makes very little sense, so here’s a pic:

Now you’re nice and reinforced.  We want this thing to be sturdy and never leak so much as a grain of rice!

Cut diagonally across all 4 corners without cutting into your seam.

Turn it right side out, make your corners nice and square, press it and topstitch along the edge.

Starting at the seamline at the bottom of your project, mark the pad into six 3″ sections using a chalk pencil.  My lines didn’t show up very clearly in the pictures, but you get the idea.

I think.

Put 4 1/2 cups of uncooked rice (or flax seed or whatever filler you prefer.  I like the weight of the rice. ) in a large zip baggie and throw in some of your favorite essential oils.  Shake!  Shake!  Shake!

Now, take 3/4 cup of your rice/oil mix and dump it into your heating pad.

My concern was how to contain the rice long enough to sew the barrier seam.  Hmmmmm…..A-HA!  A temporary barrier!  I pinned the rice back about 1/2″ away from my marked line leaving just enough room for the presser foot to pass by.

The problem with that was that it was a tad difficult doing it with the pad lying flat on the table (or my bed as you see in my pics. 😉 )  So…..I hung it from my ironing board using my iron to weight it down.  Work with gravity, baby.

Stitch it up and repeat for all 6 sections.

After filling your final section, sew your barrier seam near the top edge and then the folds in and zigzag the very edge.

That’s the toughest part…and it’s not even so tough.  And…you’re done!

You’re final product will measure 18″ x 7″ which is ideal for abdominal cramps, sore lower back or tense neck.

It rolls up nicely to tuck into a bedside drawer.

And I’m pretty sure that my next project will be a cute little drawstring bag in a coordinating fabric.  Perfect for storage and for gift-giving. I’ll keep you posted on that project. :) EDIT: Drawstring Bag Tutorial has been added!

Stick it in the microwave for around 2 minutes.  Of course, this time varies from one microwave to the next.  Just be very careful not to overheat (it will stink and can hurt ‘cha!).

Also….you can store it in your freezer for cold therapy on an injure knee, back, etc…

So…there you have it.  Now get busy! 😉



Padded iPad Sleeve Tutorial
Container Gardening Part One


  1. dianna says

    just made this with flax seed, love it, have it sittinf on my shoulder right now! and am considering sending these as christmas gifts, the great part about flax seed it wont break your needle if yor accidently get one under the needle, and made a smaller one to use as a hand warmer

  2. Beth Dishong says

    This is fantastic. I have to make one for my daughter. She hurt her lower back when she was a cheerleader and agravated it terribly having her two children because she is short and has a short torso. Her time of the month has always been especially hard so that doesn’t help either. This will be great. I have a room full of fabric but, don’t think I have anything just right for that so I may need to make a trip to JoAnns or my Quilt Store. Thanks for the tute.

  3. says

    Oh My Goodness… I am going to try this and if I can I am going to make these for daughter and daughter n laws and etc.. for Christmas gifts.. Thanks for sharing..

  4. kathy says

    thank you for sharing this tutorial with us! I found you on pinterest and followed the link to here. I am going to make one for myself and I think a couple for mother’s day! :)

  5. LadyP says

    I love this idea. The only thing I don’t like is that I found this AFTER Mother’s day :/ lol Guess I know what I’ll be doing for Christmas gifts :)

  6. G-J says

    We have something similar my sis-in-law made for my husband at least ten years ago. It is filled with rice and has been both microwaved and stored in the freezer without any problems.

    Our son likes to go to sleep on something cool, so in fact we store it in the freezer all day and then take it out for him when he goes to bed. I’ve been needing to make at least one more because ours is always in use. So glad I just found this! Thank you!

  7. kelly dannemann says

    Dear Abbie,
    Wanted to thank you for this rocking tutorial, we live in the hot desert and let me tell you, these guys frozen in the freezer helped us and many of our friends get through the aganizing heat. We would wrap them around our necks to keep us kool down from getting heat exhaustion. So,, Thank you and really love your tutorial. Also, your bag for the the bag is great as well, have given them as gifts to many friends for the holidays.

  8. janie says

    This is awesome, and I love to sew. I’m going to make some of these for Christmas gifts . Thank you so much for the tutorial. God bless, amd have a blessed Christmas.

  9. says

    Can you use that insulated fabric to make hot water bottle covers as don’t have a microwave. Wonderful tutorial. I too have not sewed anything of any note but I would definitely give this a try.

  10. Donna Douglas says

    I love making these. I make mine with plain cotton fabric and then make a sleeve with the fabric of choice. This way I can wash the sleeve to keep everything clean. No issues with body oils, etc. getting on the actual rice bag.

    I have made a quantity of these to hand out at my mother’s retirement home. The attendants and residents love them for when they go out in the colder weather to go to the store or out for some fresh air.

  11. Frosty says

    I made mine with cotton “junk fabric”.I made channels I filled with rice. Then I made a fleece cover that the junk fabric inside fits into. That way you can microwave it without the fleece and just slide it in the fleece cover. You can also just toss the fleece in the washer if you need to. My fav use for mine is to microwave it and put it in my bed to warm up the sheets during the cold New England winters!!!

  12. KARI says

    I had lots of flannel scraps given to me and this is the first thing I thought of. I made tiny ones ( hard to sew and filled with dried peas) to warm up little kids mitts and boots before heading out in the cold. After making several different sizes, I am selling at a school fundraiser/craft sale for christmas. So many uses depending on the sizes you make :)

  13. jbsews says

    Thank you! I have had the same style cozy in my head, too. :-) you wrote the tutorial much better than I could. I have the sack ones which are great for cold feet. I do prefer a ‘pillowcase’ out of the pretty fabric so I can wash it. Old high thread count sheets or that beautiful old-fashioned pillow ticking is super for the cozy. Thanks again!!

  14. karen says

    A very unique idea……. a gift for yourself and everyone on your gift. Giving list. Will book mark this and maks it soon. Karem c.

  15. Sandi says

    Hi, I just want to make you aware that a seller on Listia is using images she finds on the web to create DIY auctions. I have reported her to Listia but they won’t remove her auctions unless the original owner of the photos and instructions reports her. The link to her auction is here: http://www.listia.com/auction/7656975-diy-rice-heating-pad
    Hope she gets removed. Not fair for someone to auction off someone else’s ideas.

    • abbie says

      Wow! Thank you so much for letting me know. I have reported her to Listia and ask that she be removed as a seller on the site. We will see what happens. Thank you so, so much for letting me know. I appreciate it more than you know, Sandi.

  16. Dolores says

    Thank you Abe for letting me know that you have a website that shows how to make these free. You saved me from using come of my credits on Listia to get the pattern free from you.
    Thank you for contacting me.

  17. Talenyn says

    Question: Why do you cut diagonally across all corners? I’m new to sewing and crafting so I’m curious if this is a technique thing or a preference thing.

    • abbie says

      When you cut diagonally across them, you’re removing extra bulk that would prevent your corners from lying nice, flat and neatly squared. To get an idea of the difference it makes, turn one of your corners right side out without clipping it first. Compare that to one that you’ve trimmed and you’ll see the difference. Have fun sewing!

  18. Debbie (doTerra essential oils #2281) says

    I’m going to make some of these for gifts and add essential oils, too. Makes the house smell sooo good when you warm in the microwave.Thanks for the tutorial! Just found you on Pintrest and can’t wait to stitch ’em up.

  19. Irene says

    After hand surgery, I have arthritic pain.
    I made a corn bag like a square mitten.
    Filled a long rectangle with field corn,
    then folded it in half from the long side
    and sewed it together.
    Now I can heat it and put my hand in the
    mitten to keep it on my hand and nice and warm.
    Thanks for the tute. Great job.

  20. Marsha says

    I love this idea. I made one today. I added straps on one end with Velcro. I also put Velcro on the other end of the pad. You can fasten it on your knee and continue to be move around. Thanks!

  21. Sheila says

    This may be a stupid question, but can you use warming oil instead of essential oil? I have never used either so I have no idea what the difference is.

  22. says

    Without doubt, Apple’s application store wins utilizing a mile. It’s many hundreds all kinds of apps vs a fairly sad range of a smattering for Zune. Ms has designs, especially with the realm in games, but I’m unsure I’d like to bet in the future in cases where this aspect is extremely important to one. The apple ipod is a greater choice it’s likely that.

  23. Corynne says

    Thank you for your tutorial. I use it in my high school introductory sewing class as an optional project at the end of the semester. Those students who are fast sewers get to choose and this is a very popular project. They like to make them and give as Christmas or mothers day presents which is during the time my classes fall. Thanks again for your easy to follow instructions

  24. Walt says

    Has anyone ever tried mixing rice with corn? Or any other combination of grains to heat longer? GREAT Tutorial! THANKS

  25. says

    Thanks for somje other informative site.Where ekse may I get that kind of information written in such ann deal manner?

    I have a challeng that I am just now running on, and I’ve been on
    the glance out for sujch information.

  26. judy miller says

    I paid $60. for a pad just a little larger than this. It was full of all kinds of herbs and oils. I just want to pass this information on to all of you who use this. The instruction was to store this pad in a plastic zip type bag and keep in the freezer until you need it. Then heat in the microwave for 1 minute ONLY. Keeping it in the freezer until needed help preserve the herbs and oils for a longer period of time. I know I won’t be paying $60. for one again. I’m going to make another one in your smaller version, just perfect for my neck and put lavender oil in it for my headaches.

  27. Sarah says

    I just followed your directions and my heating pad came out perfect. I surged the end pieces together, then stiched around like you did. I loved your tip to surge, as it can guarantee that no rice is going to escape. I didn’t have any oils so I opened up two bags of vanilla chai tea and shook that in.

    It feels soo good. Thanks so much for the great tutorial. I’ll be following your drawstring bag next to store it.

  28. says

    This is one of the best tutorials I have seen and I have been searching for a good one. Off to the fabric store now to get my fabric. Thank you!

  29. Shannon says

    Thanks so much for this post! I was searching for a good heating pack tutorial… Going to make a few for mothers day!


    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *