I love easy solutions to problems. I appreciate solutions even more when I can accomplish them myself. My oldest has been having some horrible growing pains and she keeps commandeering my my heating pad. I happen to be nursing a baby right now and I use mine for my neck (nursing neck, anyone?). A couple pieces of scrap fabric, some rice and a few minutes on the sewing machine and she now has her own – and this momma gets hers back (win, win!).
When getting started choose a stronger weave fabric as your heating pad will be holding the weight of the rice and the stitching. I used some scrap upholstery fabric from another project; however, a thicker cotton, flannel or linen would work well. Also consider the size. I needed something that I could lay on my daughter’s legs or lower back without having to adjust too much. After stitching, mine ended up 8 inches wide by 20 inches long. The rice you use does not need to be expensive; pick the cheapest white rice you can find.
Start by aligning your fabric so the wrong side faces out and the right side faces in – touching each other. Stitch down both long sides and one of the short sides – leaving one short side open to be able to add in the rice. I used a short running stitch – you will want to choose a stitch that won’t allow the rice to escape.
This next part is the tricky part. I separated my heating pad into four sections to allow even heat distribution and so the rice wouldn’t end up bunched in one side. I added 1 1/2 cups of rice to the heating pad and then stitched up the section completely closed. The tricky part is that when you lay the heating pad down some of the rice will shift while you’re stitching. You might have to push a few grains back so the don’t become trapped in the seam. After stitching the first section I added more rice and stitched up the next section. Be careful to not overfill. You want your sections to be about 2/3 full of rice.
To close I tucked the open edge in about a 1/2 inch. Then, I stitched two parallel lines over the end about a 1/4 inch apart to ensure closure. After trimming the loose string the heating pad was ready for use. I popped it in the microwave for 2 minutes and it turned out toasty warm! My big girl was incredibly happy.
A quick note on some modifications. If you find the scent of the rice too odd once heated you can add 15 drops of your favorite essential oil into the rice in each section. When the scent starts to dissipate you can rub some more on the outside. If you prefer to not use essential oils you can add in a couple tablespoons of fresh dried herbs into each section (such as lavender buds or mint leaves). If you are unable to use rice due to allergies some filling alternatives include: dried beans, dried lentils or ground flax seed. Enjoy!