Saturday, December 13, 2008

Rice Pad Sewing Tutorial - Part 1

Today, I thought I would share a simple sewing craft that you can complete in just a short while, with just basic sewing knowledge. This tutorial will use a sewing machine and a few basic sewing supplies including a rotary cutter (you can use scissors if you like), thread, fabric (preferably cotton or cotton blend), straight pins, some sort of measuring device with a straight edge (I used a large quilting ruler), and rice (you can use any type- brown smells neat but I usually use white-it's cheaper- your preference).

If you do not know what a rice pad is, it is a heating pad that you heat in your microwave. It produces a steady moist heat for all of your bumps and bruises, tummy aches, and my favorite, a comforter for a sinus headache.Pictured above are several different fabrics. The pad will consist of one inner layer (containing the rice) and one outer cover that can be easily taken off and washed if needed. Decide if you want the inner layer to be a different fabric than the outer at this point. You can use just one fabric or two if you like. I would suggest that the outer layer, which will be covered in part two of this tutorial, not be white or cream (those colors show dirt too easily).

The first step is to measure out a 10" by 10" piece of fabric and cut it out with your rotary cutter or scissors.

Here, I have three 10" x 10" squares but you will only need one. (I was making three at the same time for Christmas gifts).

Now, take your 10" piece and fold it in half. You will want to pin the piece several times on the raw edge in preparation for the sewing machine.

You will need to sew a straight stitch all the way across the long raw edges that you pinned together. Now, sew only one side of the short edge. I used a scant 3/8" seam allowance. You can use a larger seam allowance if you want. Just make sure that you use the same seam allowance measurement on all seams.

What you will end up with is a rectangle with one end and the long side stitched. This picture doesn't show the stitching on the short side very well, but it is there.

Now is the time to turn the bag inside out.

Here is the bag inside out. Don't worry about pushing the corners out exactly as the rice will do this for you later.

Don't get confused! I know I said this was a rice pad tutorial, but when I got to this stage, I realized to my horror, that I was out of rice. Thinking quickly, I decided to use wheat berries as a substitute. Although I have not heated wheat berries in the microwave before, I am told they work just as well as rice. Since I have not done this myself, I would suggest you use only rice unless you know for sure that wheat berries are good substitutes. Bear with me, the wheat berries are the same consistency that I needed for this tutorial so that is what I am going to use for educational purposes.

Fill your bag with rice (ahem, I know I'm using wheat berries...) and leave about 3-4 inches unfilled. This will allow the rice some moving room and will create a pad that is not hard as a rock when you use it.

Once you have filled the bag all but about 3 or 4 inches full, turn the raw edges inward about an inch or so (use your judgement here, you just need enough to be able to catch both edges in a seam in the next step.

Quickly pin the two edges together that you had previously turned inward. I say quickly because the rice will try to escape if you are not careful. "Don't run away rice, we need you!"

Here, I am sewing across the pinned edge to close the seam. Don't forget to take your pins out before the needle runs over them. Sometimes you can get away with this but 9 times out of 10, you will break a needle this way.

Congratulations, you have completed step one of making a rice pad! What you have before you, is the inner part of your rice pad. This part can not be washed and must be protected by an outer layer to keep it clean and dry. We will cover how to make the outer layer in part two of this tutorial.


  1. The TeamSC blog is looking for tutorial's. Consider passing this along to Ashley!