For You

Sewn Rice Bags, Warming Our Tootsies

It may be a balmy 45 degrees here in Seattle, but we still get cold feet at night! That’s why we made up a bunch of these rice heat therapy bags to keep us warm. These are instructions for a mini rice bag, but a larger bag for shoulder, back, or leg pain is easy to make, too.

Supplies for Rice Bag Warmer Tutorial:

  • 12″x12″ piece of flannel (or any size you choose)
  • white rice (NOT instant rice!)
  • sewing pins, matching thread & sewing machine
  • optional: add a drop of two of essential oils

1. Cut your flannel to the desired size. Mine was 12″x12″, which makes for an approx. 5.5″x11.5″ bag.

2. Fold flannel in half, right sides together. Sew along the entire long side of your rectangle.

3. You now have a fabric tube. Move the long seam to the middle of the rectangle as shown. Sew down one of the short ends. I used a 1/4″ seam allowance.

4. Turn your bag right-side out. Top-stitch along the seam on your short side using a 1/4″ allowance (this is for decorative purposes only–you’ll see why in the next step).

5. Fill your bag with rice. I think I used about 1.5 cups. You don’t want it too full or it won’t conform to your body. Tuck the seams in and pin.

6. Sew along the pinned side (now your end seams match).

Heat rice bags in the microwave for 1-2 minutes, or until warm. You don’t want them too hot–you will get burned! Heat it up and keep it inside your covers near the end of your bed. Goodbye, icicle feet!

If you’re giving a rice bag as a gift, you can make a decorative tag with heating instructions to tie on with a ribbon.

To make a longer bag for use on sore muscles, start with a longer piece (or pieces) of flannel and complete steps 1 through 3. For step 4, I top-stitched around three sides of this bag before filling with rice for a cleaner look. Next, measure how many evenly spaced pockets you have room for and make a line across the bag with chalk or a fabric pen. Fill the first section with rice (mine are about 1 cup each), then pin along chalk line, being careful to keep rice from spilling into next section. Sew across line. Repeat with remaining sections until the last one. Tuck in ends and top-stitch closed. Easy-peasy!


  1. Love the idea! I made some with socks years ago, but had forgotten how useful they are. Great to have for extra last minute gifts. Thanks again!

  2. Been making these for a while. My adult daughter has lupus in her joints and she uses them to relieve the pain. My 97 year old mother uses one for arthritis in her hand. Love them.

  3. For a calming scent, use Doterra ‘Serenity’ essential oil. It’s a calming blend which includes lavender so it smells nice too!

  4. Thanks for a great tutorial. I made these a couple of years ago, they worked like a charm.
    Going to start making them again so I can send a box full to “my” guys in harms way.

  5. Here we are, more than two years since you posted this! I found you on pinterest and so very glad I did. Looking for some thoughtful gifts my kids can make for Christmas and these are just so perfect! Thank you for a wonderful tutorial!

  6. A lovely tutorial, I will spend the weekend looking for some lovely material to make some gifts. Great to read that tea can be added to scent the bags.

  7. One question…. if you make the one out of 12″ by 12″ flannel, what are the dimensions of the finished product?

  8. ps….the oil is strong so make sure you don’t add too much…I bought the very large bag of rice because i’m making quit a few……

  9. I’m making these for Baby shower favors…have made them in the past with the lavender oil….just takes a drop or two in a lg bag of rice….they have such cute baby flannel out there!

  10. I also forgot to mention that I did this without sight. The stitches I used are neat and even, even if the seam isn’t perfectly straight. I’m going to make one for my significant other.

  11. I made one of these by hand-sewing. I cut the back plain side off a pillow case that I couldn’t stand, then folded and hand-sewed two sides. I then filled with about three cups of rice, a tablespoon of cinnamon and a teaspoon of cloves, and 1/4 tsp apple pie spice. I then sewed the top seam, and made a decorative outer cover from one of those microfleece blankets you get at walmart. I just cut and sewed, adding a cotton ruffle along the open end. I use mine for my failed spinal fusion. Add that with some pain medicine and it works like a dream.

  12. I’m making a few of these for gifts this christmas, as money is a bit of an issue for me. I found this cute little poem to attach to them; hope you enjoy it!

    The Rice Bag

    This little pillow filled with rice,
    Is such a comforting device.
    Microwave for 2 minutes on high
    And kiss those aches and pains goodbye.
    Apply it to the troubled spot,
    The heat will ease the pain a lot.
    Or warm those little toes so cold,
    You’ll find this nice to have and hold.
    Or freeze it for a little while,
    And fix that booboo up in style.
    Instead of a compress made of ice,
    Use this pillow filled with rice.

  13. I’m going to make 3 little ones for Mother’s day, each with a different smell (tea). And I’ll make a long bag where my mom can put the 3 bags in, if she wants a big rice bag for around her neck :o)
    thanks so much for the idea!


  14. I was looking for bean bags to play with my students…this is a great idea for that too..thank you for shearing it!! I will make it with kids socks, colorfull and may put different tea inside so they can enjoy the smell too..
    Great idea!!

  15. My grandma used to make these! Very helpful for cramps too! She always made them out of hand towels. They are the perfect size to hang around your neck and they last FOREVER! However, the ones in your picture are so cute, I may have to go flannel shopping soon!

  16. Lovely tutorial, as always, ladies. I’ve been meaning to make a few of these now that I’ve got a sewing machine and I think I’ll just have to do it. I know I’d love to have a few on hand for myself, a few freezer ones (maybe in a cute little penguin print ;), and I bet my mom would love one or two for her birthday.

    Thanks, Sweet Birdies ;)


  17. I just made one of these yesterday to sell on my website shop and my etsy shop. Great tutorial! I have used one for years so I know the rice lasts a long time. Filing with some lavender makes it smell nice but any herb (or tea as suggested above) will only scent for a short while. Spray some linen spray or spritz with water with a few drops of essential oil mixed in to refresh the nice scent.

  18. The rice bag I made was a sock filled with rice and tied off. Very ugly, but warms nicely. Yours, on the other hand, are so very cute! I love the colors in that pile of them.

  19. Made one for a gift for the contractor working on our house for a gift for the ride home after a long day of work. He liked it so much he uses it also at night to get his feet warm. I should have made him two!

  20. You can also use dried corn that you can get at a feed and seed store. These smell wonderful when you heat them.

  21. I was researching these last week because I wanted to make one as a gift. Both tea and essential oils came up as ways to scent them. I also read that mixing kosher salt with the rice keeps the bag hot for longer. (Some even use just salt INSTEAD of rice! Also wheat, oats, barley, or cherry pits are other fillers.)

  22. OH MY GOODNESS! I just sat down at the screen with a brand new rice bag I JUST made! Yours are so so cute! If you’re looking for NO-SEW, try a black tube sock (Sams Club $11 for 8 pair), fill with rice, then tightly tie pretty ribbons on both ends! Instant Warmth! I just made 16 for a girls scrappin weekend in 45 minutes!

  23. I make these all the time too. They are perfect little gifts. A good way to make them scented is to put tea in them. Just cut up some tea bags and mix them with your rice and they are good to go. Use chamomile for the flu or peppermint tea for head or body aches. <3

  24. These are so beautiful. I have a really large flannel one that I use at night, but I love the mini ones. So simple and perfect for everyone.

    And I LOVE the comment above from Jena for freezing these rice bags. I don’t like to put on ice either, it’s too cold for me, so I would love these for my boo boos too!!

  25. Wonderful little bags. Make them with denim and they become sturdy pocket warmers for the kids or the fisherman in your life.
    I would think dried lavendar would work for a fragranced warmer.

    1. I’m making some of these for Christmas gifts, and I’m just going to use tea leaves to make them scented. I made a neck warmer for myself a few months ago and added the tea leaves and it smells soooo good!!!

  26. I have one of these made for me by a friend. I must admit nothing takes the chill off better than this little bit of warmth for your cold fingers or toes. I have been wondering if there are any fragrances I could add to increase its ability to calm and soothe. Any ideas anyone for something that can withstand being heated and cooled repeatedly and give off the essence of calm?

  27. I made a smaller one of these (using scrap fabric) that I keep in the freezer for boo, boos for my little ones. (Ice is way too cold and melts and makes a big mess and the kids don’t like it, but they will use the ‘boo boo’ bag.)

  28. You are one of my favorite bloggers and I always love what you come up with. I marked you as a FAVORITE some time ago! Keep those great ideas coming.

  29. We’ve made these with tube socks – yours are so pretty! And, some of our older ones are springing leaks, so we may give these a try! Thanks!

Make and Takes more recent posts