Sew a warm hug around the neck! You can make your own Therapeutic Neck-wrap Heating Pad with a few scraps and a handful of household items. This makes such a thoughtful gift, but make sure you treat yourself to one too!
This cute heating pad is 24” long and 6” wide, just perfect to wrap around your neck and shoulders. Heat it up in the microwave for 1-2 minutes and then relax, relieve stress, and ease your tired muscles.
It makes the perfect gift for a friend, child’s teacher, or even the mailman!
UPDATE: This blog post has been converted to an optional PDF that’s optimized for printing. Find it here . The pattern in the blog post below is totally free to read, print, and sew! Just hit CTRL +P on your computer to print. The Optimized for Printing PDF download for $2 is totally optional.
This is how I wrapped mine up. Are you ready to get sewing?
For each DIY Heating Pad, you will need:
8 strips of fabric 3 1/2” x 6 1/2”
1 backing strip 6 1/2” x 24 1/2”
3-4 cups of rice (or other grain for filling)
The fabric I used is Riding Hood by Josephine Kimberling for Blend Fabrics. That print on the far left below reminds me of a cosy afghan. And it has all my favorite colors.
1. Arrange the 8 strips in a pleasing combination.
2. Sew them together with a 1/4” seam allowance.
3. Press all the seams to the side in the same direction. This is important.
4. Lay the pieced strip right sides together with the backing strip. FYI… I don’t really cut my backing strip until my front is done, then I lay the front on top of the backing fabric and cut around. It’s easier that way and then they are already RST ready to sew.
5. Stitch around the rectangle with a 1/4” seam allowance, leaving a 4” opening on one short end. Stitch again a second time to reinforce the seam.
Note: the seam allowances should all be pressed toward the end with the opening.
6. Clip the corners (without cutting the stitching), turn right side out and press. Press the seam allowances at the opening to the inside.
7. Each little compartment will hold 1/3 to 1/2 cup of rice or other grain (I’ve heard that you can also use barley, buckwheat, flax seeds, etc. I always use rice).
This microwaveable neck wrap will instantly soothe with warm heat for quick relief, complete with the calming aroma of chamomile!
If you love the soothing relief of a hot bath or heating pad, then this DIY rice neck wrap is a must-have for your pain relief arsenal. It’s portable and can be used anywhere you have a microwave – like an office cubicle, hotel room or at home.
Heat is one of the most comforting forms of natural relief for achy joints, headaches, or menstrual cramps. The wrap measures about 22 inches when sewn, perfect for draping around your neck or lower back comfortably.
How It Works
It takes just two minutes to heat up this rice pad, which stays warm for about 30 minutes. After 15 minutes of use, move the rice around the pad to redistribute heat and re-apply.
When to use:
- Before bed to help relax
- When sick to ease aches
- When experiencing menstrual cramping
- After working out to soothe muscle pain
- On back for pain management
- Any other areas that may experience tension or joint pain (neck, knees, etc)
The calming scent of chamomile is mixed with rice before filling the wrap. Use dried chamomile flowers or chamomile tea to enjoy the subtle sweet scent.
An herbal neck wrap is a great way to relieve stress, muscle tension and headaches. Unlike a heating pad, a neck wrap conforms to your body and removes tension around the neck and shoulder muscles.
With a little sewing knowledge, you make your own neck wrap that can be reheated in the microwave. A neck wrap also makes a great handmade gift for friends and family. Follow these 9 easy steps for your own DIY home spa neck wrap.
- Sewing Thread
- Rice (not instant)
- Lavender, Mint, or Chamomile Essential Oil
- Measuring tape
- Sewing needle
1. Pick Fabric
Pick A fabric to use for your neck wrap. Flannel, denim, muslim and cotton are all good fabric choices. It is important to use tightly woven fabric so that your filling does not fall out.
If you choose a looser woven fabric, you will need to make a liner for the neck wrap. Old t-shirts, jeans, socks, and towels all make great recycled fabric, or you may choose to purchase from a craft store. Less than 1 yard of fabric will be needed to complete this project.
2. Cut The Fabric
Measure out and cut your fabric about 20 inches long and 9 inches wide. This will give you a neck wrap that is roughly 18 inches long and 4 inches wide. If you want a larger or smaller wrap, adjust measurements to suit.
3. Fold The Fabric
Fold the fabric in half lengthwise. If your fabric has a pattern or design that you want on the outside, fold that side onto the inside of the fold. Later, you will turn the wrap inside out and the inside will become the outside. Make sure all the corners line up and edges are even.
4. Sew the Wrap
With tight stitches, sew the sides, the bottom, and half of the top of the folded fabric together. Be careful to make the stitches close enough that your filling will not fall out. Leave your needle threaded after sewing half of the top of the folded fabric together. You will use this later to sew the remaining portion of the opening closed.
5. Turn Out
Turn the sewn wrap inside out. The inner fabric will now be on the outside and all of your stitches should be hidden on the inside.
6. Fill The Wrap
Use a funnel to fill the wrap with rice. Make sure to avoid using instant rice, as this could cook in the microwave. Do not overfill the wrap so it is stiff. You want it to be able to drape around your neck.
7. Add Your Herbs
Add 10-12 drops of herbal essential oil to your wrap. Lavender, chamomile and mint all make nice relaxing scents. Choose one scent, or combine several for the desired aroma. Shake the rice to distribute the essential oils evenly in the wrap.
8. Close The Opening
Using the needle and thread that you left on the wrap, finish sewing the opening and tie off the thread. Cut any thread ends to complete your wrap.
9. Heat Your wrap
Heat the wrap in 30 second intervals. Shake the rice around after each interval to distribute heat. Do not exceed heating for more than 2 minutes at any one time. Wrap around neck and drape over shoulder for wonderful heat and aromatherapy.
By lizziecharlton Follow
Perfect for aching joints or warmth on a cold day, and really easy to make!
Step 1: Materials
You’re going to need:
Thread (I’m using gutermann sew all)
Filling (Rice/Wheat/Feed corn/Buckwheat hulls/Barley/Oatmeal/Beans/Flax seed/Cherry pits)
Two pieces of a 100% cotton material roughly 14cm wide and 50cm long.
Essential oil (I’ve used lemon scent)
Because this project will be going in the microwave, a material that won’t melt in heat is essential. For that reason I’ve specified 100% cotton. My favourite is flannel/flannelette/winceyette as this has a soft and slightly cosy texture while still being cotton.
“Fat eighths” are particularly good for this sort of project, especially when you have a lot of them in your stash.
Step 2: Filling Preparation (optional)
About a week prior to your project you should prepare your filling if you wish to add a scent.
I did, and so I put the rice I’ll be using into a sealable bag and then added several drops of essential oil to it to my own tastes for how strong a scent I would like. It will dissipate some once it has been put into the heatable bag, so keep this in mind when adding the oil.
Seal the bag and leave to marinate for as long as possible before use. I usually go for some time between 4 days and 3 weeks depending on how organised I am.
Step 3: Pinning
Line up your two pieces of fabric with the right sides facing each other and pin in place round edges.
If you’re a bit scatterbrained you may find it useful to mark with a pencil or disappearing marker a gap of about 4cm that you’ll be leaving open when you sew.
Step 4: Sewing
Sew around all 4 edges, leaving a gap of about 4cm in one of the short edges for turning and filling.
Depending on how confident you are in your skill, aim for a seam from between 0.5cm and 1cm. I usually use a 1cm seam, but go as low as 0.5cm when my fabric is less wide than usual.
Step 5: Clip, Turn, Press
Once you have sewn your edges, clip the corners to reduce seam bulk and then turn your sewing right side out through the hole you left. Poke the corners through and then press so the seams look nice and sharp. You can skip the pressing, but the final appearance is nicer if you do press the seams.
Step 6: Fill
Using the hole you left, insert the filling for the heat bag. Aim to fill the bag to just over half way. You’ll know how much more to add when you fold the fabric over. If the unfilled end is longer than the filled end, keep adding filling.
Once your bag is filled to the right level pin the end closed.
It’s easiest if you can use a funnel for this step. In the absence of a proper funnel you can use a piece of paper or card that has been folded into a funnel shape.
Step 7: Top Stitching
Close the bag, and finish it nicely, by top stitching around the edges. Try to get this stitching as close to the edge as possible to make the closure of the hole as neat as you can.
I tend to start my stitching as close to the end with the filling in as possible and then move the filling within the bag as I need to so I can stitch all the way around.
If you find topstitching the whole outside rather difficult or fiddly, then you can settle for only topstitching the open end to make sure the hole is closed.
Step 8: Heat and Enjoy
Now your heat bag is finished! The amount of heating it will need will depend on both the filling and the density of the filling. I tend to start at 2 mins and decide whether it needs more or less from there. However long it is you decide on, heat in the microwave and enjoy!
Everybody could use a little bit of relaxation. With today’s gift idea, you could give this to anybody on your list. I made a bunch of these last year for Christmas; Renee has told me that she uses hers daily!
Supplies (makes 2):
- 1/4 yard flannel fabric
- 8 cups un-cooked rice
Cut the flannel in half across the width so that it is roughly 9″ x 20″ (the length will be determined on how wide the fabric was to begin with).
Fold the fabric in half length-wise with right sides facing each other.
Sew one of the short ends and the long end. I also like to sew a little bit on the second short end so that it is easier to sew the final end after it is filled.
Clip the corners and flip right side out.
Fill with about 4 cups of un-cooked rice. Make sure to leave enough room so that the neck wrap can be folded and molded to your neck. You could add a couple drops of essential oil to the rice for a nice scent, just make sure it’s not one that the receiver is allergic to or doesn’t like.
Fold in the raw edges and sew the end closed. You can either opt to do a ladder stitch so that it is invisible or just sew it closed with the machine. Last year I did all of them with the invisible stitch but if I did them again I would probably just sew it closed with the machine.
To use, heat in the microwave in 30 second intervals until nice and warm (but not too hot).
Hope you have enjoyed this tutorial for a DIY Neck Wrap. I found that they were relatively quick and easy gifts that make a great impression.
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Sew microwaveable heat packs from colorful fabric for cute and cozy gifts. This project is a super simple way to give affordable presents.
As you may know, we’re total wimps here in Southern California. Some of you are weathering extremely cold temps where you live and I’m wearing fingerless gloves as I type. I am cold all the time.
I have no idea how I survived five years in Kansas City, but I’ve gotten soft in the nine years since we moved back to California. (Psst, no one in California actually says “Cali,” so please don’t.)
In my defense, our home stays quite cool all year long. We don’t have an air conditioner and only really want one a few days out of the year. It’s not that it doesn’t get hot here, but our house stays quite chill.
Which means it’s quite nippy in here during the winter, thus the fingerless gloves. And the corn bags.
Years ago, in Kansas City, mind you, a friend gave us a cloth pillow filled with dry feed corn. I thought it was crazy. And then she said, “You know a friend gave me one and I thought she was crazy. But, it’s really amazing how nice it is in the winter.”
How right she was! We had one “corn bag” or microwaveable heat pack to share among the seven of us that first winter. The kids would take turns heating it in the microwave and then slip it under the covers to warm up their beds. Once they fell asleep, the parents would snatch the corn bag to heat up their own bed.
Oh, yes, yes, we did.
In summer time, they would store it in the freezer to cool off with!
Microwaveable Heat Packs: DIY on a Dime
Now, let’s go back to Christmas 2007. It was the Christmas of our Great Debt, and the only thing the kids wanted on their list were corn bags of their own. They were so sweet about it. They knew we had NO MONEY to buy gifts, so their requests were humble and modest.
Determined to give them something fun — and super thankful that the grandparents were picking up our slack — I bought colorful fabric in the patterns that I knew would please them (Kansas City Chiefs, dinosaurs, Thomas the Tank Engine, and rainforest lizards). After they went to bed, I sewed up a storm, even making little hand size packs to put in their pockets. And yes, I made my husband hunt down the feed store to buy feed corn.
Those heat packs lasted quite some time until their edges just frayed and broken bits of corn started to poke through.
A few years later, I made the kids a new batch, including making the girls their own custom microwaveable heat packs. I busted out the sewing machine that probably hadn’t seen the light of day in the five years prior. I found flowered cotton for the girls, hockey and Marvel comics for some of the boys.
Instead of hunting down feed corn, I filled our new packs with rice which is cheaper and easier to find in my neck of the woods. Be sure that it is NOT minute rice. Ahem. You can also fill microwaveable heat packs with cherry pits and flax seed as well as the original feed corn.
This is an easy, fun gift to make for your kids or for yourself! A few years ago my friend Anne shared these cute owl heating pads that she made. These microwaveable heat packs are even easier. You just need to be able to sew three straight lines. That’s it!
You’ll need the following supplies:
- cotton fabric
- sewing machine
- cotton thread
- rice, feed corn, cherry pits, or flax seed to fill
- scissors and pinking shears
How to assemble a microwaveable heat pack:
- Cut a rectangle twice the size of your desired heat pack. Mine were 10 x 11 inches. Pink the edges.
- With right sides together, fold the fabric in half, forming a thin rectangle. Sew two sides together. Reinforce with an extra seam. Turn the case right side out. It should look like a skinny pillow case.
- Fill the bag with with rice, leaving two to three inches empty at the top. Fold the top inside itself, and sew shut. Sew that seam again to reinforce it.
That’s all there is to it!
To use: Just heat the bag for a minute or two in the microwave and use to warm cold beds or sore tummies. It is recommended to place a mug of water in the microwave alongside the heat packs in order to avoid scorching. Store in the freezer to use as a cold pack.
As always, please use common sense and safety precautions. I am not responsible for fires in your microwave. I am merely sharing our experience and what has worked for us.
I could not find specific instructions for bags with the fillings I’ve used. However, I did find these safety reads for bags filled with wheat. I’m not sure how that filling differs from these fillings. Just FYI.
P.S. There is a good round of Q&A in the comments section.
Originally posted February 12, 2013. Updated November 26, 2017.
Wife to Bryan since 1994, mom of 6, cookbook author, writer, home educator, and to-do list maker. Learn more about Jessica.
Microwavable heating pads with organic fillers are a wonderful way to soothe sore muscles or just warm up on a cold day. Their combination of toasty warmth and good smell are a natural remedy you can enjoy every day without side effects. The rice-filled warming pad project we did here at Sew4Home is one of the most popular gift items ever featured. Most likely, it’s because they’re not only functional, they’re also really easy to make. Everybody who makes them seems to have a favorite filler. So we thought we’d do a little testing to see if we could find out which one is best.
You can use other substrates, our original pad project featured fleece and cotton ticking, but the traditional choice for anything microwaveable is 100% cotton. It can get very warm without melting and has a nice feel against your skin. Of course, like anything you put in the microwave, even cotton will eventually burn if you cook it too long. The benefit to using the organic fillers is they require very little time to heat thoroughly, fifteen to thirty seconds is usually plenty.
But what about the filler? What should you put inside your heating pad to get the best results?
First of all, you want your filler material to be microwaveable; that eliminates anything with a metallic component, which will spark. It should stay warm for an extended period of time. It should have a nice smell or no odor when heated. And finally, it should have a nice feel against your skin. This last reason is probably why neck warmers filled with driveway gravel never caught on.
Talking with our Sew4Home team and then looking at what’s recommended on the web, we found a huge number of different fillers people have tried. The more exotic range from silica beads to cherry pits. But the ones that appear to be the most popular (and in our experience the most practical) are: rice, dried corn, and flaxseed.
All three meet the requirements of retaining heat, having a pleasant smell, and feeling good against your skin. Additionally, we like the fact you can buy any of these rather inexpensively in the bulk food section at most supermarkets. If you’re making more than a few heating pads, this is something to consider.
Some people swear by the convenience and/or cost of buying feed or seed corn at a local feed store, but there were also many concerns about “buggies” showing up in corn. We chose to use food grade fillers for all our tests and have not experienced any issues with pests – even in pads that have been used over and over for years.
We wanted to know which of our three finalists – rice, dried corn, and flaxseed – would perform best in a “highly scientific test.”
To test our fillers we made three 5½” x 5½” test pads from scrap cotton fabric and filled each with 1½ cups of the various fillers.
We chose to compare them by volume rather than weight because that’s the limitation on your sewn warming pad.
Using a 1.65 kilowatt microwave, we heated each of the pads for thirty seconds. Using a food thermometer, we measured how warm the pad was right when we took it out. And then how warm it was after sitting out for five minutes.
As a reference, we heated a cup of water to 140° and found it had cooled to 124° in five minutes.
Rice: 140° out of the microwave. Five minutes later had cooled to 136°.
Dried Corn: 158° out of the microwave. Five minutes later had cooled to 142°.
Flaxseed: 144° out of the microwave. Five minutes later had cooled to 142°. This one retained the most amount of heat.
One additional plug for rice, which came in second: rice is hygroscopic, meaning it absorbs water and then releases it when it is heated. You may have put a little rice into a salt shaker to absorb the water that can invade – especially in humid climates – so the salt will shake more freely. When you use rice in your heat packs it delivers moist heat, which can be quite beneficial. Putting a small cup or bowl of water into the microwave when using any of fillers inside the heating pads can help with moisture.
We’d heard some people complain that grains, like the rice and corn, can have a cooked smell when heated. We didn’t detect any strong smell. But cooking odors may be caused when the grains are microwaved too long and burn a little.
Flaxseed is a seed and so much less prone to cook. However, of the three, the flaxseed actually had the most noticeable smell.
We often use essential oils to add a pleasant scent to our warming pads. The organic fillers tend to absorb and retain these oils, but remember that a little bit goes a long way. You need just a few drops to create a lasting aroma. Other scent options include, dried herbs, flowers, and teas.
This is the most subjective test. It really depends on the texture you like on your skin.
Rice: This has a nice “full” feel, almost like a batting fiber.
Dried Corn: It has a granular, pebble feel that’s pleasant when resting on your arm or neck.
Flaxseed: This flowed the most easily and conformed to where you laid it.
As mentioned above, we narrowed it down to our three finalists because they were so readily available from the majority of supermarkets with bulk bins. All were well under $1.00 per pound.
Rice: $.53 per pound
Dried Corn: $.96 per pound
Flaxseed: $.83 per pound
If you’re going solely for heat retention, use flaxseed. But all three of the fillers we tested performed better than water and so should stay warm longer than a traditional hot water bottle.
For smell and feel, we found things to like about all three. So much so, that we’ve even mixed rice and flax for some of our projects.
We now expect the major scientific journals to begin clamoring for the publishing rights to our detailed research, but you can use it for free.
Of course, there are many other filler options; we simply didn’t have the time to test them all. We’ve heard good anecdotal evidence for using lentils, dried soy beans, millet, birdseed, and hard wheat. Put on your white lab coat and do some testing of your own. We’d love to hear about your own successes or failures with organic fillers.
If you’re ready to put your fillers into practice, check out our projects for Rice Warming Pads, a Scented Spa Set, and a Therapy Neck Wrap. These projects also include tips on heating, cooling, and cleaning.
After an intense workout at the gym, curling up in bed with a hot compress may be just what the doctor ordered. Inflammation, muscle tightness and stiffness will dissolve away from the blissful warmth. If your home medicine cabinet is fresh out of hot water bottles, don’t bother going to the store. Make a homemade compress in a snap with supplies you probably have on hand.
Fill a large microwavable bowl with about a pint of water. Microwave the water on high for one minute, then remove the bowl from the microwave. Use oven mitts if necessary when handling a hot bowl. Or heat the water in a saucepan on the stove for five minutes.
Set the bowl on the counter and insert a clean cotton cloth into the warm water, submerging it until it is saturated. Squeeze out the excess water so that it doesn’t drip.
Fold the cloth into a rectangle and tear off a piece of clear plastic wrap that is large enough to cover the cloth. Place the cling wrap over the cloth to help seal in the moisture and the heat.
Place another dry cotton cloth over the plastic wrap to prevent it from tearing and to absorb any excess moisture. If desired, wrap medical tape around the edges of the two cloths and plastic wrap to hold the compress together.
Place the compress over the ailing body part with the cloth side facing your skin. Apply medical tape or an elastic bandage around the body part and the compress to hold it in place.
Leave the compress on until it cools to room temperature. If desired, reheat the bowl of water and dip the compress into it again. Apply fresh tape to reapply the compress to your skin.
Insert herbs or essential oils in the center of the folded compress, if you like. Add 1 to 2 teaspoons of arnica oil to relieve sprains, bruises and swelling. Add chamomile flowers for earaches, skin problems and general pain.
Do not use warm compresses on skin that is punctured, broken or bleeding.
Always test the water to ensure that it is warm, not scalding, before applying the compress to your skin.