a little cozy goes a long way (and a hand warmer DIY)

i’m not a super mom.  in fact, i’m pretty sure it’s an oxymoron or the opposite of a double negative, or something that cancels itself out.  most days i’m just doing what has to be done, making sure my babes have what they need and praying that everything else falls into place.

but there is one other thing i take very seriously….  that my kids feel loved.  everyday.

it would be easy for this task to become overwhelming, but luckily my kids have taught me that it’s the little things that matter.  just one act of love goes a looooong way.

this winter my default has been just about anything warm and cozy.  letting them eat breakfast by the fireplace, adding an extra blanket to their beds, a hot cup of cocoa after being outside, a warm towel to wrap up in after tubs, or….


… reheatable hand-warmers to pop in their pockets on the way to school.  so cozy.

(continue reading for the DIY instructions)


SUPPLIES: a fat quarter (or more) of this fabric or whatever fabric you have laying around the house, fabric scissors, pinking shears (optional), sewing machine or needle, long pins, rice, and thread.


1.  using fabric scissors, cut the pattern from our spoonflower fabric OR cut 2-3/4 inch squares from your choice of fabric.  you’ll need two per hand warmer.

2. place two squares of fabric wrong sides together and stitch a 1/4 inch seam around the outside, leaving a 1-1/2 inch opening and backstitching in the beginning and end.  (if you don’t have pinking shears, place fabric write sided together, sew as instructed and then turn right side out.)

3. fill 3/4 of the way up with rice.

4.  using a long pin, block the rice from falling out of the opening and sew closed.

5.  using pinking shears, trim the edges….  it will keep them from fraying.

to use, warm up int he microwave for 20 seconds (or so), but make sure they aren’t too hot before handing over to little hands!

hand-warmer-valentines-3i also thought it would be fun to make some extras to give as love day gifts and made a little insert to include.  you can download it (HERE).

so, i shared a couple of my little tricks, but would LOVE to hear about little things you do to show your kids you love them!  let us know in the comments below.

xo . rae

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98 Responses to a little cozy goes a long way (and a hand warmer DIY)

  1. Stephany g 01/25/14 at 1:03 pm #

    These are awesome! Where did you get the fabric from? I love the fabric!

  2. Amanda 01/28/14 at 5:10 am #

    Is there anything I can put inside so that it wont stink?

    • rae 02/13/14 at 4:00 pm #

      hmmm – not sure… maybe rosemary?

    • Laurel 02/20/14 at 4:43 pm #

      Lavender is a very common addition to rice heating pads.

    • Karen 12/25/14 at 11:27 am #

      I use field corn in mine but it may be too big for these little hand warmers. Some people use flax seed. They say it has a better smell. Any of the grains will have an oder. It dissipates with time.

  3. amaryllis 03/01/14 at 6:34 pm #

    I have some of those and they work well. Also make sure that all friends who walk dogs have them.

    But one caution: use 100% cotton fabric only. Poly/cotton blends will catch fire in the microwave. This caution is in case you are using scraps from around the house.

  4. Jennie Condra 03/06/14 at 6:35 pm #

    When I have made these before I added dried lavender to them. I bet a little essential oil would work too! I make mine big for heating pads. Some are long and skinny to wrap around necks. Nice work on these little ones! So cute!

    • judith 11/26/14 at 4:59 pm #

      Wouldn’t the essential oils stain the fabric over time?

  5. Trish 03/15/14 at 3:27 pm #

    I don’t particularly care for the way the rice smells either, so that is a good idea putting
    a scent of rosemary or special oil.

  6. denise keywood 03/18/14 at 5:07 pm #

    You can also use shucked corn, which can be found at co-op and around deer season to fill the hand warmers. Works the exact same way. Difference is smell. I prefer the corn over the rice but now living in the city its a might harder to find. Love love the idea.

  7. Crystal 04/21/14 at 6:10 pm #

    Was just wondering, how long does the heat stay with these?

  8. Carole 05/22/14 at 1:21 pm #

    You should not use rice or any grain for warming. Once it’s heated,it’s cooked, and will grow bacteria. This is why the smell get worse. Also a fire risk. Also a rodent magnet. You won’t want to find mice in your kids pockets! Use small gel packs instead.

    • Tammie Bacle 11/18/14 at 12:56 pm #

      Sorry but that’s not true. My grandmother made these and I still have one and still use it. Once the corn or rice is heated the bacteria is killed. The grain is not “cooked” it drys the moisture out of it. The smell goes away after the first few heatings and as long as you use 100% cotton for the fabric its perfectly safe to heat. This type of “heating pad” has been used for generations. They used to lay them in an iron cooking pot close to the fire to heat them up and take to the fields on cold mornings.

    • cathy 11/18/14 at 3:31 pm #

      You have to use long grain rice not instant. I find it doesn’t cook. Also I make a small muslin bag and fill that with the rice then make a removable cotton cover so you can take the cover off and wash it. I have also used barley or ground, dried corn cobs available in the pet department.

    • JSB 12/01/14 at 8:47 am #

      Wrong! If sealed they are safe and rodent free unless your house is swarming with them. Do not wash, use a few drops of essential oils on the rice before filling and they will hold the fragrance each time heated for quite awhile. These are so easy to make if they become dirty throw away and start again. I have a rice bag made with a tube sock tied in a knot for years! It’s still works well, I just slip it into a small pillowcase each time and wa-la clean and smells nice.

      • evelyn parsons 01/06/15 at 8:02 pm #

        I have severe back pain, and my daughter filled a tube sock with rice, tied a knot and warmed it up in the microwave. It produces moist heat, and is the only thing that helps when my meds aren’t helping. I have used it for 3 years with no problems. Great for warmth AND pain relief!

  9. Lucy 05/28/14 at 2:44 pm #

    I really enjoyed this idea :D
    You’re quite creative.. Although I’m thinking of adapting the hands warmer to an adult. A friend of mine is moving to England and this would be a really good gift ^^
    At home I only have felt and some fabrics my grandma gave me (she can make clothes) so I’m not sure if they’re 100% cotton $:
    Should I compare with any pieces of clothes that I have and know they are 100% cotton or better not risking and buy it myself?

    • Heather 08/30/14 at 5:36 am #

      You can always take a small swatch of the fabric and test it with a candle, anything synthetic will melt. You dont want to use thise

  10. nancy morton 08/23/14 at 12:51 am #

    This is a great idea for golf tournaments. Keeps your hands warm while you play golf.

  11. Donna 08/30/14 at 1:32 am #

    Corn and Rice Bags have been around for years with no problems. It might depend on the climate you deal with. Make them and enjoy.

  12. Theresa 09/04/14 at 7:04 pm #

    What type of fabric did you select from Spoonflower?

  13. Angie 10/11/14 at 9:31 pm #

    Flaxseeds are wonderful for this, too, with a bit of lavender.

    • Sam 11/27/14 at 2:42 pm #

      I also use flax seeds. I like the way they feel in your hand and I think they maybe hold the heat longer too!

  14. Theresa 10/12/14 at 6:58 am #

    Cinnamon is great too to cover up a smell you can also use cherry pits they’re a little bumpy though

    • SARAH 10/19/14 at 12:54 am #

      I use cherry pits in my heating pads…they hold the heat longer than grains. You can get clean cherry pits here: http://www.cherrypitstore.com/

  15. Kendra 10/13/14 at 10:47 pm #

    Is there a specific type of rice I should use?

    • Jess 01/07/15 at 4:32 pm #

      Just not instant as far as I know. It cooks when heated in these.

  16. Katlyn 10/18/14 at 11:12 pm #

    How long do they stay hot?

    • Sarah 10/21/14 at 11:11 pm #

      It’s difficult to say how long they stay hot because when you’re using one, there isn’t really a point where they go from hot to cold. They stay sort of warm simply because you have them up against your body. I’ve used them for up to an hour before re-heating, though. It’s kind of hard to answer how long definitively. Sorry! ;)

  17. Kelly 10/21/14 at 9:58 pm #

    Hi. I want to make these as Christmas gifts. I am considering purchasing the printed fabric from Spoonflower, but I wondered how many finished hand warmers you get from a “fat quarter” of fabric?

    • rae 10/22/14 at 5:34 am #

      hi kelly! you get at least 12 or more depending on the type of fabric you order… i like to use the linen cotton canvas. xo

      • Kelly 11/01/14 at 4:37 pm #

        Thanks so much. :)

      • Sam 11/13/14 at 3:00 am #

        How many handwarmers can u make with yards?

      • Jess 11/22/14 at 5:09 am #

        Rae, Could you edit your pattern to say “Merry Christmas” instead of “Happy <3 Day" and "Stay Cozy Friend" instead of "Stay Cozy Valentine"? I love the design still, but would like to use them as Christmas presents instead.

  18. Emma 11/02/14 at 11:01 am #

    Wow, this looks like a fantastic idea – and so simple. I’ll think about making these for Christmas presents!

  19. ellie 11/03/14 at 1:14 pm #

    Oh my, this tutorial is so incredibly cute!! I love it!!!! I think I’m gonna make some of these as Christmas present, they’re so adorable!

    Indiellie | Bloglovin’

  20. Ann 11/04/14 at 6:33 pm #

    I have taken those socks that no longer match anything to make bigger heat packs. This way I am recycling into something useful. They work great for foot warmers when you crawl into bed at night, to wrap around your neck or on an arm or leg. My kids each have one now and mine don’t come up missing as often.

  21. Jerri 11/06/14 at 9:47 pm #

    Hi Rae,

    Please please help. I am wanting to purchase the material of yours for the hand warmers, but need two questions answered first. Which material did you use for the warmers in the photo? I see that you like the linen cotton can peas in a comment, but is that what you used?

    Is the linen cotton canvas able to be microwaved? I see there were comments that it has to be 100% cotton or would catch fire. Can you tell me if yours were able to be microwaved? Thank You

  22. Lacey E. 11/07/14 at 4:35 pm #

    I want to make these as favors for a baby shower. But I’m wondering, does the fabric include the printed valentine saying? Also, if I’m wanting 50 warmers, how much fabric would I order? I love the design! Thank you

  23. Shannon 11/14/14 at 7:58 am #

    My littles would love these! But we don’t have a microwave, is there any other way to safely heat them?

    • jenni 12/04/14 at 8:22 pm #

      you can dampen the cover and warm it in the oven, but keep an eye on it.

  24. maryanne 11/15/14 at 3:28 pm #

    I have made many of these, in larger form,for neck warmers, feet warmers, making sure there is a sewn divider so the rice does not always go to one end. LOVE these.

  25. Elic 11/17/14 at 7:30 am #

    In the past I made scented trivets. Scented rice with an oil, generally cinnamon since they were Christmas presents, and filled them. BIG hit with the recipients. I’d guess that an oil like that would work for these too. Was wishing I had one for my frozen feet right NOW! LOL

  26. Shawna 11/18/14 at 5:24 pm #

    Try using wheat. The lady I work with makes neck warmers. I have washed mine (in a pillowcase in case stitching come undone) dry for a short time in dryer and then hang over chair to finish drying. Puts a little moisture back into wheat so it heats up good again

  27. christina 11/22/14 at 7:15 pm #

    what does “trim” the edges mean? could you post a follow up video of this or something please? (clearly, im crafting-deficient)

    • rae 12/15/14 at 7:08 pm #

      you are too sweet christina! not sure if i’ll get a video tutorial up anytime soon (sorry!) wish i could. trim just means cutting off the edges so they look clean – if you have (or know someone who does) pinking shears that’s even better because they will keep the fabric from fraying :)

      hope that helps! xo . rae

  28. gayla 11/22/14 at 11:52 pm #

    While I love this idea and plan to make a few hand warmers, I wanted to comment on your kid-raising philosophy – I think that your kids probably feel very loved. everyday. your philosophy is beautiful and so spot on! Thanks for the reminder that a single act of love/kindness goes a long way – for your family, for your friends, for complete strangers.

  29. Amy 11/25/14 at 3:35 am #

    Would flannel be a good idea to use? Is white rice acceptable? if I were to put a type of cinnamon oil in the packets, how much should I use and how should I put it in? these Warmers are a cute idea.

  30. Paula 12/03/14 at 3:20 pm #

    I disagree with Carole’ s statement. I have used these for years for pain therapy. RICE has been the main filler. No bacteria growth, etc. I would rather my family use these home crafted packets than those commercially made, containing unknown ingredients (toxins). In my opinion, reusable is a smarter choice.

  31. kristen 12/21/14 at 3:27 am #

    I made one and followed the instructions to the tee but when I put it in the microwave it got hard and smelled……is it supposed to expand and get hard? Like did I do something wrong? To long in microwave I put it in for 40 seconds…..or wrong rice? When I cut it open and spilled it’s guys every where it looked like rice crispy treats cerial. Please someone tell me if this is normal and if it isn’t how do I fix it?

    • rae 12/21/14 at 7:32 am #

      hey kristen… did you use instant rice? that’s the only explanation i can think of.

  32. Donna 12/22/14 at 10:04 pm #

    What a lovely idea! I have a large version that my mom made for me years ago. It is filled with whole wheat berries. Works great!! My husband and I take our warm bags to bed almost every night in the winter to warm our feet. Works better than a hot water bottle!

  33. Karen 12/29/14 at 1:22 am #

    I have added lavender to mine in the past but it seems the lavender is more prone to scorching. Once scorched, it always stinks. I’ve added flax and/or soy (for fill, I guess) but I don’t think they enhance the heating. Be prepared to toss when they don’t smell good anymore. Bulk rice is CHEAP.


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