DIY on a Dime: Rice-Filled Heating Pads

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Bless your kids with cute and cuddly cozies to keep them warm this winter. Create a charming and practical gift out of fabric scraps and a pantry staple, thanks to this tutorial from Anne of Modern Mrs. Darcy.

DIY on a Dime: Rice-Filled Heating Pads

When I saw these adorable rice-filled heating pads on Pinterest last year, I knew I had to try them. They’re simple to make, use up lots of fabric scraps, and are truly one-of-a-kind. Last year, I gave my 4 kids each a personalized owl in their stocking, and they’ve used them just about every night since.

I made my heating pads in the shape of owls. Aren’t they cute? You could make these in any shape you choose: circle, square, heart, rectangle, and you could piece your fabric in any design you’d like to delight your recipient. Use up your scraps to save more money and reduce waste.

Consider this tutorial a leaping off point. 

What you need to make a rice-filled heating pad:

  1. A pattern: draft your own or download this one from Etsy for $5
  2. Fabric scraps for the body
  3. Felt scraps for the owl’s face
  4. Fusible interfacing or fleece
  5. Sewing machine, needle, thread
  6. Rice (DO NOT use Minute Rice)

How to make an owl rice heating pad:

  1. Cut your pieces.
  2. Fuse the interfacing/fleece to the underside of the front piece.
  3. Use a zigzag stitch on the machine to sew the heart piece to the owl’s body.
  4. Next, lay out the felt for the owl’s face. When satisfied, sew down the felt using a zig-zag stitch on the machine (or sew down the felt by hand, like I did).
  5. Using a zig-zag stitch, sew down the felt pieces.
  6. Pin right sides together, and sew the owl front to owl back (like you were making a pillow, leaving a 3-inch opening.
  7. Turn owl right-side-out.
  8. Fill halfway with rice.
  9. Handsew the opening shut.

To use these heating pads, pop them in the microwave for about a minute so they’re nice and toasty. Enjoy!

DIY on a Dime: Rice-Filled Heating Pads

Note from Jessica: Five years ago, I made these for each of our kids. Neither my sewing skills nor my patience are as refined as Anne’s, so I made simple rectangles in my kids’ preferred fabric designs. They were a hit. And now they all want new ones again this year! These truly are a fabulous gift to give. I filled ours with extra clean feed corn, so if you’ve got that lying around, you can use that. 😉

– Anne Bogel loves strong coffee, long books, and big ideas. She puts a timely spin on timeless women’s issues at her blog Modern Mrs Darcy. Head here to get her free guide Paper Gains: A Guide to Gifting Children Great Books from Modern Mrs Darcy

DIY on a Dime graphic, with text overlay reading Great Gifts.DIY on a Dime

This is part of the DIY on a Dime: Great Gifts series. For more easy and frugal gift ideas, check out the list.

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  1. Hi, does anyone have the owl rice bag pattern they would like to sell to me. I notice it is not available on etsy. I made one for my grandson many years ago but he lost it and would like me to make him another one. Thanks in advance.

  2. Hi! I know this is an old post, but I really hope you see this comment and respond. I’ve made cat shaped wheat bags, and I want to use felt for the faces, but I’m a little bit concerned that craft felt might not be safe in the microwave? Did you use craft felt for these, or another type of felt?

    Thanks so much in advance 🙂

      1. Ashleigh, I have used craft felt and wool felt and have never had a problem. (My microwave time is usually less than a minute, which I’m sure makes a difference.)

        I have read that craft felt is acrylic, and can melt in the microwave. I’ve never seen this happen myself at these low microwave times, but if you’re concerned then use wool felt, which will not melt.

  3. has anyone put these in the wash? I think my son will be getting his quite dirty. I think I’ll be having him make these for gifts for family and friends. Of course, I’ll be keeping it very simple so he can do it.

      1. I had to laugh at myself after reading your response to my ‘senior moment’ question. Of course you can’t was them. All I need to do is make a cover for them with a fold over closure that could be removed and washed. This works for my purposes because I plan to make mine more utilitarian than decorative or crafty. In other words, just fabric, no cute animal faces but perhaps the covers could be cutesy.

    1. The interfacing gives it some body (cotton is floppy, especially with three layers of felt stitched on) and just makes it look nicer. You certainly could make it without, but it looks better with.

  4. We have a similar pouch my mom bought at a craft fair, but we keep it in the freezer and use it as a cold pack. Would rice work for cold also, or what would you suggest? (We live in a warm climate and don’t need heating packs, but use our ice pack all the time!)

    1. We’ve used corn and flax bags for cold, I don’t know why rice wouldn’t work, too. My kids put them in the freezer during the summer to help them cool off.

  5. I love owls! So cute. I’ve heard brown rice can go rancid after six months so you may want to stick with white rice too. Mine is never around long enough for me to confirm that!