Rice Heat Therapy Bag Tutorial

on November 24 | in Sewing Tutorials + Patterns | by | with 121 Comments

Rice Heat Therapy Bag with Washable Cover
Materials you will need:

  • fabric scraps
  • 1/4 yard linen or other fabric (I used this
    linen blend
  • 1/4 yard muslin
  • 2 lbs short or medium grain rice
  • essential oil
  • 4″ of 3/4″ wide Velcro
1. Cut Fabric

  • 2 colored strips = 2″ x 7.75″
  • 1 colored strip = 3″ x 7.75″
  • short linen piece = 9.875″ x 7.75″
  • long linen piece for back = 14.625″ x 7.75″
  • 2 muslin pieces = 12.75″ x 7.75″
2. Sew front strips together using narrow 3/8″ seam allowance.
3. Fold over 1/4″ of one end of both the back and the front pieces. Press well with iron.
4. Now fold that same edge under 1″ and press well. Make sure both the back and the front are exactly 1″ wide.
5. Turn pieces right side up. Open up the crease that
you just ironed (but not the 1/4″ fold.) Center and pin the velcro to the right side of the fabric, above the crease but slightly below that top, folded edge. Pin the hook piece of Velcro to one side of the bag and the loop piece to the other side of the bag.
6. Sew Velcro in place. Using a short stitch length, carefully sew around all 4 sides of the Velcro.
7. Place right sides of bag together. Carefully line
up the top and sides. (Your Velcro will keep the pieces together, so no pins necessary!) Starting at the top (where the Velcro is), sew around three sides.
8. Trim seam allowance.
9. Fold Velcro edge to wrong side, using your creases as guides of where to fold.
10. Sew around the top edge of the bag, just below the Velcro.
11. Get your essential oil ready.
12. Place 2 lbs. rice in bowl, sprinkle with essential oil and stir.
13. Sew muslin pieces, with right sides together, leaving a 3″ opening on one of the short sides.
14. Turn muslin bag right side out. Fill with rice.
15. Stitch bag closed. (I shook all the rice to one end
and machine-stitched the bag closed. It is tricky, but doable.)
16. Place muslin bag into linen bag. Velcro closed.
I also made a smaller bag with buckwheat and peppermint oil. This bag is for the freezer. I’ll be making one of these for my daughter in shades of green. A “boo boo” bag. She heads for the frozen peas any time she is injured, so maybe this will appeal to her.
I made an eye pillow stuffed with flax seed. This is also for the freezer. I was lazy and didn’t make the washable cover for this one–just filled the pillow with flax and sewed it closed. I thought the oil might be too much when it is right next to your nose, so it is odorless.
All three items are going in a “Wellness Bag” which I’ll tell you more about on November 30, when we’re presenting gift compilation ideas.
Since these are being mailed to my gift recipient, and I won’t be there to explain them, I asked Lauren
to make me some gift tags. They are very cute! You can print them onto card stock from this pdf.


Edited to answer questions….

I think cooked buckwheat is known as kasha, but you want to get the unroasted kind for freezer bags.

I bought buckwheat and flax seed (also raw) in bulk at the natural foods grocery.

I poked around a little and didn’t find any warnings or concerns regarding Velcro in the microwave.  (I suppose you could use buttons–that would be very cute.) I didn’t find any warnings about essential oil in the microwave either, although I confess that I didn’t look hard.  Does anyone have any information regarding the safety of either of these in the microwave?

As for the timing in the microwave, I’d start with 1 minute and go up to 3 minutes.

I’m glad so many of you are enjoying the tutorial!


Edited again….

Start off with 8–10 drops of essential oil.  Stir it up and sniff.  Ask someone else to smell it too.  I needed only about 10 drops of peppermint, but I used at least twice that much of tangerine.  I think it really depends on the oil.

I think that the weight of the buckwheat is comparable to the rice, so yes, about 2 lbs should do it.

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121 Responses to Rice Heat Therapy Bag Tutorial

  1. Joanna says:

    Thanks so much for this great pattern! I have been trying to figure out how to do one of these successfully for a LONG time! Can’t wait to get started on my projects now 🙂

  2. Laurie says:

    I followed someone’s link to this tutorial and I’ve done a little research on the ‘rice bags’ Here is the link I found most helpful. A nurse? was asked to do research into using them for her hospital and posted her results. http://www.diamondthreadworks.com/microwave_heating_bags.htm

  3. Thanks for this tutorial. I’ll be making some of these for presents this year. ;o)

  4. Danielle says:

    Barley is also a great affordable substitute for rice… especially because after several uses rice starts cooking in the microwave and starts smell (I found that out the hard way). I have had my barley heat packs for several years and they still smell great!

  5. Nicole says:

    I have been making these bags for years..even saving cherrie stones…but I have often burned my bags at one moment or the other…
    I start at 1 mn and do it over again each time 40 seconds, when using it. It has often cured my pains!
    But I discovered I could put a glass of water at the same time in the micro wave to avoid the burning…
    Am I the only one that ever burned her bags???

  6. I posted the following at the Wellness Bag site, but I meant to post it here:

    It’s been almost two weeks since Christmas, but I’m still making these therapy bags for friends. They’ve been very well received, too. I’ve taken the advice of some of the comments here and made a pillow sham back for the bag covers, rather than use the Velcro closure. I offset the opening, though, so the stiff rice bag can slide into its cover more easily. I made a cover for the Booboo bag, too, and its pillow sham back opens from short end to short end so the bag can be inserted easily.

    When it came to the constructing the rice bag, I sewed channels into it so the contents won’t shift. And I whipped together a drawstring bag in coordinating fabric to keep the therapy set in.

    Thanks again for the tutorial! Here is my blog entry about my version:

  7. Jean Marie says:

    I made seven of these assembly line style for most of the women I work with…and have fabric for about 3 more.

    Only challenge I ran into was in figuring the amount of essential oil to use. I’m not sure if I just picked very strong scents, or my oil was very fresh and thus stronger.

    Geranium is a very strong scent! It’s a good thing the rice isn’t very expensive…for these I ended up replacing the rice for unscented; enough had soaked into the bags overnight that I didn’t add any oil to the replacement rice. The lavender was also very strong, and I ended up using perhaps 1 or 2 drops per bag (I used more to start for the first couple of bags, then ended up just buying more rice and splitting among the four bags I had left to finish). Next time I’ll just go with the lavender – that was the preferred scent by far!

    Thanks very much for sharing the tutorial!

  8. Ansley says:

    Thanks again. Your idea and beautiful tags made my handmade holiday complete. You can see an image of the eye pillows I sewed up here:

  9. Susan says:

    Thanks for the great tutorial! She loved it 😉

  10. Emily says:

    I made a couple of these last night and absolutely love how they came out! Thank you for such a great idea and very clear instructions. I actually did mine without velcro or buttons but just did it with an overlapping flap on the back side–like you’d see with a sham or something. I was about to buy buttons when I realized I’d never sewed a buttonhole before, and six days before Christmas doesn’t seem like the time to learn. 🙂 Thank you again!

  11. Carol says:

    OMG thank you for the idea 🙂 I went a little bit of a different route but they came out great 🙂 I made 4 in one night and they are going to be what I give to everyone 🙂 total it just cost me the expense of the rice as I recycled T-shirts for the inner part and the outer material I had already so i just had to buy the rice 🙂 10 lbs $5 = 4 gifts how can you beat that 😀

  12. Jessica says:

    Rebecca you should be able to use flax seed instead of buckwheat.

  13. Rebecca says:

    Hi, love this tutorial! I’m making several wellness bag gifts. Quick question…is there something I could use in place of the buckwheat? I can’t find it locally and don’t want to risk ordering over the web and not getting it in time to finish the gifts. Thanks! Rebecca

  14. HAZEL says:


  15. marge shrake says:

    I have been making these for sometime…When you need a special warm feeling for an ache or warming up it is a great idea..Marge

  16. Kathy says:

    I made one of these yesterday for my creativity group’s present exchange. Your pattern was excellent. Thank you for sharing the idea.

  17. Vicki Maiorano says:

    Thanks for the idea of flaxseed for the eye mask. I am going to make one to cut out the light for sleeping!

  18. bon says:

    What a wonderful idea! I had to throw out my rice tube sock earlier this year due to its odor. I never thought to make a cover for it! I’ve heard that a rice bag should be heated in the microwave with a cup of water for safety reasons, but I think that would make it soggy. I just kept a close eye on it while it was being heated. You could make a no button no velcro closure by just turning over the ends and overlapping them in the middle of the back of the heat pack cover, then sewing them.

  19. Brandee says:

    oh those are so cute! i love these ideas (:

  20. Diane Ronsheimer says:

    I have one suggestion when making this. Rinse the rice first and let it dry. The reason. When you heat the rice bag it is going to smell like a rice bowl. This will eventually disappear, but until then your husband is going to get hungry every time you use it to keep your feet warm in the winter

  21. Sabina Leach says:

    I really like the idea of a washable cover! Could the rice bags be used to keep heat in a casserol carrier? Or does anyone know of something else to use? What I guess I want to know is how long the heat and cold last.

  22. Nicole says:

    I love the warming rice bag, I used one while I was pregnant with my first son, but mine wasn’t as pretty. Great gift idea too.

  23. kristin says:

    What a fantastic idea, thanks for sharing!
    I have a couple of questions, though…
    1. How much essential oil do you use?
    2. If I were to make a freezer bag (using the buckwheat) of the same size as the heating bag, should I use ~2 lbs of buckwheat, too, just like the rice?

    I can’t wait to try this over the weekend!!!

  24. Sarah says:

    How do you keep the rice bag from being too moist and heavy from the microwaving?

  25. Jan says:

    how much essential oil do you use? I have never used these oils.

  26. Ansley says:

    Love these. Thank you.

  27. Katie Hoefle says:

    What a great tut … My mom always used to make therapy bags but she used old terry hand towels with beans inside. After a few heatings, the beans would create quite an odd smell. I’m excited to try these with the rice.

  28. jenn says:

    I want to make one for me! Plus, several other folks I know.
    Thank you for each day of new inspiration.

  29. Kati says:

    I love this, and i know about 5 people that would also get a good use out of this! Now i just need to pick some good scents 🙂

  30. Tina M. says:

    Gorgeous! I’ve got a bunch of these that I sleep with to warm up my cold toes and hands.

    I’ve also made mixes where I put lavender in with flaxseed. Those were lovely and stayed nice smelling for quite a while.

  31. gatorgirl says:

    This is the perfect gift for my Father! Thanks so much for all these awesome gift ideas you guys are giving us!

  32. Jean says:

    This is an great idea! Maybe my next gift for a pregnant mom!

  33. Kathy Sizemore says:

    This is wonderful! I can’t wait to get sewing. Is there a tutorial or pattern for the boo boo bag & eye pillow? I would love to make those also. Thanks!!

  34. Kensie says:

    Love love love these!!!

  35. kara says:

    Love, Love, Love this!!!!

  36. Laura Croce says:

    I am so happy I saw this, I work with a woman (I work at a daycare) who recently told me about her rice therapy pillow and how it was old but she still always used it when she had headaches. Actually, her husband would complain how the house smelled burnt when she used it…so for Christmas maybe I can make one!!!!!

    Thank you, I really love your blog. 🙂

  37. Meloney Funk says:

    I love the rice bags, but I’ve moved on to corn — deer corn — for the filler. They are fun to make. I had not put the velcro on them, so I’ll try that. Thank you. Also, I’ve heard warnings about essential oils in the microwave. Not sure if it is a true hazard or not.

  38. Lindsey says:

    Another perfect gift idea. Thank you!

  39. Amy says:

    Perfect! My mom has been wanting a new heating pad…my list of to makes is going to burst!!!!!

  40. Noa says:

    Super ideas! My mother is definitely getting a Wellness bag… and I am too!

  41. Mary Beth says:

    I have been enjoying these tutorial so much!! Love this one. And your fabric choices are just beautiful.

  42. Claudia~L says:

    great idea!!

  43. Julia says:


    What a great tutorial, I’ve just made one and I love it . Although I’ve been sewing for a long time this is my first small attempt at patchwork, it’s so pretty I could be hooked! I’ve really enjoyed all the tutorials this month – I’m new to sew mama sew, but I’ve added you to my favourites for future!

  44. jan says:

    I have made these for years using inexpensive but pretty washcloths. I usually get them off the clearance areas but have never used buckwheat or put my rice bags in the freezer. Doesn’t the fabric get wet or do you put them into a plastic bag to apply to the area needed? Thank you for your great site – it is so inspiring!

  45. Javede says:

    That’s a great idea!

  46. Michele says:

    Thanks for another great gift idea!

  47. Ash says:

    Ahh, I think this will be my first sewing project. This will be perfect for the leg aches I experience that become all too frequent in the chilly months. Can’t wait to try it!

  48. Serena says:

    These are so cute! I’d never thought of using essential oil in a rice pack before. This is going on my to-do list!

  49. oh, this is so much prettier than a rice filled sock!!

  50. Wow! That looks so easy. It’s going on my list of things to make.

  51. Kim says:

    Gosh those are so much prettier than my rice filled sock. Why did I not ever think of this before?

  52. amy w says:

    My dh was just using a rice pack this weekend and wanted one for himself. Perfect timing! 🙂

  53. amandajean says:

    these are great ideas! I love your fabric choices for the rice bag.

  54. Libby says:

    The rice heat therapy bag is a great idea. And I love Beth’s choice in fabric.

  55. Rachel says:

    brilliant! can’t wait to get working on these! with rice, how long do you heat the bag? And do they have some sort of life-span or just “forever and ever”?

  56. melissa says:

    i’m making this one for me. i can add myself to my christmas list, can’t i!!! oooohhhh…..i want it NOW!

  57. Lauri says:

    I’ve made many of these and always with removeable covers…basically just like you did; like a removeable pillow cover. My kids love them, especially the cold ones I keep in the freezer! I’ve never tried adding an essential oil though. But I will now!

  58. Rebecca says:

    Great stuff 🙂
    I can’t wait to make one for myself first LOL (I have neck problems) and would love to make one for my mil too! thanks for the great instructions

  59. Ashley says:

    Thanks so much for this tutorial.

  60. emily says:

    These are fab! I can’t wait until I have a decent fabric scrap pile to choose from.

  61. Alison says:

    Freezer bags are so handy! awesome tutorial

  62. Darma says:

    I love there is going to do a Wellness Bag with the items. That is a great gift idea! Love the fabrics chosen to create these therapy items.

  63. Kristine says:

    These are so great…love the idea!

  64. alison says:

    This is such a great idea. And gender neutral as well.

  65. Elaine says:

    Thank you so much for all the many fantastic ideas! I have been reading all the different posts for making gifts and am so inspired! Thank you to all you creative geniuses for being so generous with your great ideas and instructions!
    I love the idea about using peppermint oil! I have been using it for headaches lately, and it works! These are something we should all be making for ourselves as well as for gift giving. This is so much better than the old wash cloths that I drench with peppermint oil!
    I am so glad to find your site with so many great links, as I love to sew and want to be able to start adding some sewing crafts etc. to my website . A million thanks!
    I hope to soon be able to get some fun sewing/craft things on my site to pay y’all back!
    God bless and I appreciate y’all!

  66. Christie says:

    I also love the patchwork.

  67. Deb says:

    Very, very nice!

  68. Heather says:

    One question. Is it safe to put velcro in the microwave?

  69. Heather says:

    Wow this is great. My mother in law was just asking for one of this! Now I know what I can make for christmas!!

  70. Samantha says:

    This is so much prettier than the tube sock full of rice that we usually use around here. The sock works well, but it’s ugly! Thanks for the ideas. I need to make some of the cold bags too. I had one of those gel bears for the kids’ boo boos and it split open and made a mess. This is a much better idea. Thanks again!

  71. Natalie says:

    I’m all over this project!

  72. marcia says:

    Hi, I can already think of at least 4 people that these would be a great gift for! Thanks for the ideas, and I love the thought of putting them all togather, too.

  73. Shannon H. says:

    So cool! I’m always looking for other tutorials for hot/cold packs. Thanks!

  74. cecile says:

    more great ideas ! continue, please…
    thanks !

  75. mama k says:

    Thanks for the great tut! Fab last minute gifts.

  76. Tammy says:

    We love making flax seed pillows at our house. We’ve never added scented oil to it, but that is a great idea. I love the eye pillow, I need one of those for those days when the migraine hits are bad!

  77. Robin in New Jersey says:

    This is exactly what I have been looking for to make my MIL for Christmas!

  78. Missy says:

    Fatastic! My SIL asked me to make her one for christmas and now I have the perfect tutorial!

  79. Mary says:

    How wonderful! I was wondering what I could make for my sister-in-law! 🙂

  80. Molly says:

    Love these ideas! The freezer bag with peppermint is perfect for headaches.

  81. Shelley says:

    These are great ideas and love your patchwork!

  82. fiona says:

    what would buckwheat be in the UK?

  83. Jackie K. says:

    Terrific idea! These are on my prezzie list to make already!

  84. meg says:

    A great tutorial *and* gift tags? What a bonanza! Thanks!

  85. stacey says:

    Another winner – thank you! I would be thrilled to receive any of these treats!

  86. Kristin says:

    What a fabulous idea! Thanks so much for sharing.

  87. Bailey says:

    Thanks again for another great idea! This one is perfect for my mother-in-law. I didn’t think it would actually be possible, but I am getting really close to making ALL of my x-mas gifts this year. All because of you! Just want you to know that you’ve spread a lot of love with these tutorials. I second another commenter above… I am going to be very sad when November is over…

  88. Laura says:

    We use our rice bags in the freezer, as well. They work great as cold packs. Thanks for the washable cover idea!

  89. Ekioart says:

    Mmm I love these and have always tried to figure out how exactly to make my own. Now i can ^-^ Thanks so much, these tutorials and ideas are great.

  90. Amber says:

    This is great – thank you so much for all these wonderful tutorials this month!!

  91. breezily says:

    Thanks for this one. I was never quite sure just what to put inside, nor how to heat it, so this is perfect! And of course yours looks fantastic too.

  92. Delaina says:

    What a great gift idea and I LOVE the tags – thank you!

  93. Nicki says:

    Brilliant! I’ve been wanting to make an eye pillow and heat pack for ages, thanks for the tutorial :o)

  94. Meredith says:

    Oh thank you SO MUCH!!! I have been looking for this exact item for so long and haven’t been able to come up with one!!! One Easter my dear little sweeties recieved neck bunnies that can go into the micro or freezer, but I SO want to make our own, these are delightful and perfect for my weekend of crafting and making things!! Blessings, Meredith http://happyheartsmom.typepad.com/threads_of_love/

  95. these are wonderful ideas for anyone! my sis-in-law made me a rice bag one a couple years ago for Christmas, and it has been one of my favorite gifts ever!

  96. Jenna says:

    i LOVE this! i am so doing this! my sister has a nasty old freezer rice pack and this would perfect for her since it has a slip cover. thanks for the great tutorial! 🙂

  97. Chelsea says:

    Feel more relaxed just looking at them. Thanks so much!

  98. Rachel says:

    Fantastic! Thanks so much for posting this. A group of friends and I were just talking about making these for gifts this year. This is the perfect tutorial to share with them. Thanks so much! 🙂

  99. Chantel says:

    I Love these! I have made rice bags before but I love love the Buckwheat Freezer bag, I alway wanted something for cold but didn’t know what would be best, and the Eye mask is great too!
    Thanks for putting this together!
    Love it!

  100. Meg says:

    Brilliant idea! Another great use for the heated rice pack is as a bed warmer – stick it in the microwave and place it by your tootsies for a luxurious burst of warmth during these cold months.

  101. Cocoa says:

    My daughters made these (without washable covers) for grandparents a couple of years ago. It took a while to convince them to use the bags but once they got started, well, they are still using them!

  102. Love this – this is so much nicer than rice in a sock! Can’t wait to make one for my mom!


  103. Charli says:

    Using dried lavender in the eye pillow would work perfectly- the properties of lavender are very soothing as well. I think I will have to make up this trio for my MIL for Christmas- she would love it as she is REALLY in to essential oils. Thanks for the idea!!!

  104. Coralee says:

    my mom has been making these for years, but I love the washable cover concept! I’ll have to give it a try!

  105. Mette says:

    Great gift idea.

  106. Deanne says:

    These are wonderful! I know a few people already who will appreciate these as gifts. Thanks for the tutorial.

  107. Great ideas! I especially love the Boo Boo Bag…I would have never thought to fill it with frozen peas…LOL! How clever! That would be great for my son who thinks he’s a Power Ranger…I can even use Super Hero fabric!

    I’ve added a whole bunch of different sachet tutorials on my blog. Just finished a big silk potpourri sachet which I’ll post a tutorial later today.

    Happy Sewing!!! Thanks for the continued gift inspirations!!!

    With friendship,

  108. Mika says:

    This is a great tutorial. I actually put a small pocket on the outside of the muslin bag of mine so that people can choose their own scent to use. Also, I’ve found that putting channels into the muslin bags help the bags lay flat and are more easily molded to the area you are wanting to use the bag on. I LOVE the mask though-that’s a great idea!

  109. kaitlyn says:

    Awesome! The perfect gifts for my in-laws 🙂

    Thanks for working out the details, right down to the tags. This month of tutorials has been truly awesome.

  110. Again – how do you guys know EXACTLY what it is I want to make? You guys are my heroes and I will be ever so sad when November is over.

  111. Joyful Abode says:

    What a great idea, the “wellness bag”. I love that the rice heat bag has a removable cover. And the shades of green freezer bag sounds awesome. Wouldn’t it be fun if you could find a fabric that actually has peas on it?

  112. Lisa says:

    I really love this idea. I have several people on my gift list who suffer from various muscle injuries (that seems common these days) and I think they will really love this gift. I’ve added it to my list. i’ve gotten quite a few great ideas here!! Thanks!

  113. Beth says:

    What a great idea! These would be great gifts for my mom. Thanks for the tutorial and the tag PDF.

  114. Samantha says:

    Great idea!! Thanks for this- I was looking for something to give my grandparents, who like and appreciate other cute things but don’t get out much to use such things. These along with my baked goodies will be a great gift- thank you……….

  115. Julia D says:

    My mom-in law uses a sock full of rice and tied shut. Yuck.She needs one of these!!

  116. Dede says:

    These would be wonderful Granny gifts. thanks.

  117. Natalie says:

    Eye pillows are exactly the gift I have been planning on whipping up for gifts this year… thank you for affirming my belief that it can be done!

  118. andrea says:

    what a nice and relaxing gift! thanks!

  119. samantha says:

    love the feezer boo boo bag ! my daughter will be getting one!

  120. Lauren S. says:

    love the fall colors and wellness theme!

  121. Debra says:

    Oh I can really use the eye pillow one for my headaces!!
    Thanks for sharing!

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