A microwavable heating pad is amazing for muscles and backs that are sore from working out, sleeping wrong, or tweaking something. It’s always nice to have several around your house for unexpected needs!
Prepare your house with a supply of DIY microwavable heating pads with this easy sew tutorial! Most people will be able to create their own in less than an hour even if you aren’t an expert seamstress. Plus, these make for fantastic homemade Christmas gifts!
I chose a scarf shape for this heating pad as it can be used for all ages and sizes and will easily cover body parts while staying in position.
If you are making a microwavable heating pad for a Christmas gift, customize it by using a special fabric designs.
Supplies for Microwavable Heating Pad
- 7-1/2″ x 40-1/2″ rectangle of cotton
- 7-1/2″ x 40-1/2″ rectangle of flannel
- measuring tape
- iron and ironing board
- straight pins
- 9 cups of uncooked rice (4 pounds)
- 6 drops essential oil – I used lavender. You might also consider cinnamon bark or frankincense.
How to Sew a Microwavable Heating Pad
- Iron all the fabric.
- Pin the cotton and flannel rectangles with their right sides together.
- Arrange the pinned fabric so that one of the 7-½” ends is in your right hand. This is going to be the end where you’ll start sewing. But don’t start sewing at the top. Arrange the fabric so that you start sewing 1-½” from the bottom corner. (See image below.)
- Back stitch and then begin sewing at this point ¼” from the edge.
- Turn that corner and continue sewing all the way around the rectangle until you come back to that end. STOP sewing 1-½” from what would have been the top corner from where you started. Back stitch to lock that thread in place before finishing. (See image below.)
- This will leave about a 4 inch opening in the middle of that end.
- Clip the corners of the fabric so that the “corner” fabric comes within ⅛” from the stitched thread on the corner. This will reduce the amount of fabric in the corner so it will be a sharper finished corner at the end.
- Pull/roll up the fabric like a sock and then pull the right side out. Push out the corners carefully with the end of the scissors. Be sure not to poke the scissors through the fabric.
- Find the center of the top long edge and mark this with a pin as seen below.
- From the center pin, use the tape measure to find 6 2/3″ from that point in both directions and mark with a pin. Then measure out 6 2/3″ again going left on the left pin and going right on the right pin and mark the new measurements with a pin. There will be a total of 5 pins on the top. Repeat this on the bottom of the rectangle with another 5 pins.
- Now to prepare the rice. In a large measuring cup with a spout, place 1-½ cups of rice and one drop of essential oil. Mix thoroughly and pour the rice into the rectangle. The spout on the measuring cup with make it easier to get the rice into the opening.
- Hold up the rectangle with the opening at the top and the rice will fall into the bottom section. This will not seem like a lot of rice compared to the compartment size that has been pinned. But this amount will easily allow you to sew that compartment closed. This amount of rice also makes it easier for the heating pad to conform the shape of your neck.
- Fold up the rest of the rectangle and place it to the right of the bottom section of rice. This will make it much easier to handle while sewing.
- Sew shut the first section with a straight stitch from the top pin to the bottom pin as shown below.
- Mix another 1-½ cups of rice with a drop of essential oil, add to rectangle, move rice to the bottom, and sew shut with a straight stitch from the top pin to the bottom pin of that section. Repeat for all areas except the last one where the opening is to the rectangle.
- Before adding rice to the last area, iron the opening so that the edges are folded in and ready to sew shut.
- Mix and add last 1-½ cups of rice. Sew the end shut with a straight stitch from the top to the bottom making sure to back stitch at both ends.
- Trim all threads and your heating pad is finished!
A bonus about this microwavable heating pad is that it has built-in sections to fold it when storing!
How to Warm the Microwavable Heating Pad
All microwaves are different. You’ll need to experiment to see what settings you need to use to get the heating pad warm and cozy without overheating the rice. The rice can burn upon overheating. DO NOT add water or get the heating pad wet before microwaving. This can lead to serious steam burns.
For this size heating pad, I start with 60 seconds on high, which is often warm enough. If it’s not quite right, add 15 seconds on high until reaching the desired warmth.
Since this microwavable heating pad makes for a great homemade gift, be sure to check out all of our Homemade Christmas Gift ideas here!
Are you using one side of cotton material or actual cotton?
100% cotton fabric. It will not melt or burn in the microwave.
Very good instructions. I have been teaching how to make these and people can not believe how great these “ouchie” rice bags can really work to make the person feel better. Great pictures. The only thing I have found to be better is I like the option to laundry the bag. So I make rice bag the same way but in muslin, then pretty bag sleeve over rice bag with an overlap, like a pillow flap on the back.
You can also use men’s athletic tube socks as the liner & then make the removable cover.
I recently had a serious leg injury and needed a heat application during the healing process. I recently learned about Pinterest and found your wonderful “heating pad” pattern. It works just as the doctor ordered. Thanks.
rita coker says
I have fibromyalgia and I have been using a heating pad when my muscles heat. I had heard about the ice bag but had no directions to make it. Nice gift ideas also.
Why do you use flannel and cotton? Why not two sides flannel? Or two sides cotton? The bags I make now I use muslin for the bag and flannel for the envelope “pillowcase”. But they’re just rectangle, no divisions. I like yours, but you don’t state the reasoning behind part flannel, part cotton?
I’m guessing maybe 1 of two reasons:
1 – this was the fabric she had on hand or
2 – Ive found when I make all flannel heat packs that they get “wet” when heated. Its like they “sweat” when heated. My cotton ones do not.
Savona Brady says
I have been making these for years as gifts. The first year I used flannel inside and out. With ends turned over and inserted a rope type for handles or hanging. Now I use terry cloth or micro fiber hand towels or dish towels. No more cutting. I have made them in team colors and use ribbon as the ties/handles. They make fabulous gifts for family, friends, neighbors, teachers, co workers, etc. They had replaced the potholder/towels but now I am doing both. Lol.
What do you use to fill them? Are you talking about full size dish towels?
These are lifesavers for people with arthritis and fibromyalgia.
Joy @ Books and Life
Jess Gregg says
Yes they are for sure and when you’re lucky enough to have both of them together, you can never have too many rice heating bags!!!
I made some and my daughter had an accident in the just got requiring me to wash it, how do I get it properly dried out again? Don’t want a mushy pad, or is it ruined!? Thanks in advance!
As long as you use cold water it should not be a problem with the rice as we all rinse it before cooking!
Thank you so much, been looking for this for ages as winter is starting in New Zealand and the aches and pains are on the way, hahaha! But what I will do is sew a long bit of tape on each end so my husband can tie it in front of his neck, that way it won’t fall down!
Jean Cortes says
Thank you for the easy to understand tutorial.
Amanda M says
Enjoy the simple instructions, but I too was wondering why flannel and cotton. I was also curious about what type of rice is being used. It seems as thought the moistness, from the heat, would some how make it gross after a while.
Rita Reed says
what if u wanted to wash the cover.? I would use a sock for round one then cover it or make a flat one with muslin then make a cover.
Thank u for sharing! Great instructions. What type of rice works best?
Thanks for this tutorial!
I’m making a few of these for Christmas gifts. Several months ago I did something to my neck where it took 4 hours just to lift my head when I woke up one morning it hurt so bad.
Dr. had me ice and heat it. Which I made me a couple sock ones, but they stretch out and become difficult.
I’ve made one from a different tutorial, but it is a little too short. I’ll use the measurements on this tutorial.
These will make great gifts. A few who will be getting one have mentioned aches and pains they have now they don’t know they are getting one.
Oh also one tip I learned from the other tutorial is at the end that you pour the rice in is to fold over a little on each side then iron flat before you sew it.
That way when you go to sew it completely up it will have a cleaner look.
Lisa Jones says
I’ve made simple rice bags in the past but your tutorial is very good. I plan to use your instructions to make rice bags for Christmas gifts. Some readers may wish to make a cover for washing but unless it becomes visibly soiled it’s not necessary. The heat from each microwaving kills germs.
I picked up one of these several years ago at a craft fair. It’s filled with flax seed and the material is fleece. I’ve read that people are worried about anything other than cotton fabric in the microwave catching fire, however I have never had that happen and I heat mine for 2 minutes on high. I appreciate the clear instructions posted here along with the close-up pictures. I’m making one of these for my 80 year old dad.
Liz Bowen says
Just curious but after scent fades away, can you re-scent (is that even a word?) it again?? and how?
Sofia Gravito says
You can put a few drops of lavender after you have heated the pad. I normally put 3-5 drops on the inside lining and then put the cover. If you don’t like lavender you could use orange, mandarin or geranium. Those last oils will relaxed you but you will still be awake and with energy.
Thanks for taking time to share this tutorial with us.
My boyfriend is having surgery next month and I’ve been looking a gifts I can make him. I love the shape and directions you provide! Great idea, and you present it in a very clear manner 🙂
40 inches? thats over 3 feet! are you certain on those measurements?
Amy Frame says
Just finished making this, it is amazing! Thank you for the great idea! (I also used the lavender oil and it smells so soothing)
Thanks for such a great pattern for the heating pads! I just made 15 pads as Christmas gifts and would like to add a few tips that made the sewing easier. The first is after you have stitched the fabric, turned it right side out, and marked off each section on the top and bottom, use a pencil to draw a line to connect the marks. It makes it so much easier to stitch a straight line. The second tip is to use a few straight pins to keep the rice at the bottom of each section so it stays in place while sewing each section closed. I also found that all you need is one drop of essential oil in three of the pouches. I used peppermint and it became very strong once heated.
Beth Wiggs says
A good plan is to make one for heating and a smaller one to keep in the freezer. The cold one is great for migraine sufferers and for ouchies that need a cool touch.
Debi Bissinger says
Just wondering if there is a reason you used brown rice vs long grain white rice. I’ve had several of these for probably 20 years. They have feeder corn inside, I like the idea of rice.
Thanks for the great tutorial! I’ve made these in the past, without the sectioning off but my next ones will be, and I used cherry pits rather than rice; I found inexpensive cherry pits for sale online. Once heated, they have a slight cherry scent and they’re easily washed by hand if needed.
I read where you can use beans also. Has anyone ever used them?
Thank you for this!! Just made my own today with my mom’s help (she’s teaching me how to use a sewing machine!). It turned out perfect! Great step by step directions!