DIY Homemade Heating Pad – Handmade Gift Series

intro.1 heating pad www.aliceandlois.com

As winter is in full swing (that means snow in Crested Butte and rain in San Francisco) we thought it was about time to make some handmade goods that will be wonderful during this season. Welcome the rice filled heating pad.

Who doesn’t have tight shoulders and an achy neck? This DIY is a perfect gift for all of your friends! All you need is soft flannel fabric, sewing machine and rice.

I have dealt with a bad back and tight shoulders for years. My physical therapist has recommended to use a neck heating pad for my neck and shoulders. She says this is so important, especially in the winter. This homemade heating pad has been a life saver!

This project is a great beginner sewing project. Make sure and check out some of our favorite sewing projects at the end of the post.

Read more for details on how to make this therapeutic relief for body aches and pains! Give this DIY Homemade Heating Pad – Handmade Gift Series a try!

supplies heating pad aliceandlois.com

What is a homemade heating pad?

A homemade heating pad is made from a soft cotton flannel fabric and filled with a natural organic material such as rice. You will want to use cotton fabric since you will be microwaving this!

This heating pad can be microwaved to heat and used for cramps, aches and pains. We love this heating pad because you don’t have to plug it in. You are not required to stay close to a plug! You can travel around with this heating pad from room to room without worrying about a cord.

What is the best filling for homemade heating pad?

We like to use rice in our homemade heating pad. It can be heated without too much of a smell. People also use dried corn kernels. And some use flax seed.

DIY Homemade Heating Pad Supplies

How do you make a homemade heating pad?

This will soon become your go-to sewing project to make for friends and family! Learn how to make it with our directions and step by step instructions below.


1. Measure and cut two 28 x 8 rectangles out of flannel fabric.

2. Right- sides facing, sew a 1/4 in seam along 3 sides, leaving most of the top shorter seam open (sew one inch in).

3. Inside out the “tube” of fabric. Cut off corners. Sew an 1/8 inseam around the 3 sides, leaving the top open again.

4. Sew into the top opening inch in on either side. This is where you will pour the rice.

steps www.aliceandlois.com

5. Next you will mark out sections for rice “pockets”. I did six, 3.75 inch sections. Lightly mark with chalk. Fill the bottom section with about 3/4 cup rice.

5b. This step was my most difficult one. Push the rice down and pin across the rice leaving enough room for your pressure foot to clear. You do not want to overfill the section as it will make it very difficult to make a seam. Repeat this step for the rest of the sections.

6. After you have completed the last rice section, sew the section closed. Then fold down and press end twice to create a hem. This will add a nice and secure end. My heating pad ends up measuring 24 x 6.

gift.bag www.aliceandlois.com

Note: I would recommend heating the pad in the microwave for 2 minutes. You do not want to over heat and burn the rice. Do not get the pack wet as the rice will hold the water and start to smell, etc. over time.

*You can add essential oil to the rice prior to sewing the pad.

Simple Sewing Projects

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Don't be overwhelmed by the new (or old) sewing machine - these are some simple projects to practice your new sewing skills.



All photos by Sara Albers for alice & lois

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  1. thanks for posting this, but i have made a lot of these over the year, and if you bake the brown rice first on a low heat while your sewing the cover up,it takes all the moisture out of the rice( the rice i use for blind baking pie crust0 is what i use. just a tip for you, i also heat mine four 4 minutes also store one in the freezer, and you have an instant cold

    1. Is there a huge difference in using brown vs. white rice? How long do you bake it before you put it in?

      1. Ashley –
        I use cheap white rice. You put it inside the pad uncooked/dry.

  2. Ana Dykstra says:

    With these instructions, how much essential oil should we add to the rice?

  3. I have seen some bags with corn in them. What kind of corn would you use for this? How would you cook it to make it hard? Just starting to venture into the DIY world.

    1. Hi Erin –
      I have not used corn in the heat pack. I have just used rice.
      Good luck! And enjoy!

      1. I use dried deer corn. You can find it at walmart, usually near sporting goods or by the bird feed.

    2. Ramona Eggleston says:

      I have used corn, rice, lentils, beans and flax seed. Don’t recommend the beans as they weren’t as moldable to different body parts as smaller things. Just used what I had in the cupboard. Cheap rice is easiest. Also have never had a moisture problem with any of them. Your body sweats a bit under them and that is absorbed by them. I have some that are years old, no issues.

    3. I always used to make them with corn. Just use ordinary field corn from the feed store. Problem is, whenever you heat it the house smells like popcorn. I like the rice idea much better.

  4. Thanks for posting this. I have taken a long break from sewing and this is just what I needed to pick it back up again!

  5. Use deer corn.
    You can get it in big bags at Sam’s Club if you are planning on making a lot of them. It seems to hold the heat longer than rice. ( I don’t know if that is a fact…just my own observation! ) Of course you can buy the 50 lb bag of rice at Sam’s also. Heating time is about the same for both! I love either one. I have one I throw in between my sheets so my toes stay warm in the winter! It is great!

  6. Mine are not as pretty as yours are Sara. You have me wanting to make some that look like yours!


    1. I am sure they look nice! After all – if they make a sore neck feel better it’s all good!

  7. This is the perfect addition to the homemade Christmas gifts I am making for my aunts. Thanks for a great tutorial!

  8. How much rice do you use? Trying to plan my shopping trip.

  9. Vivian Dibrell says:

    If you use Basmati Rice (I buy large bags at SAMs Club) it smells like popcorn when you heat it. Also there is some moisture in the rice but that helps it soak the warmth into your achy parts! I add ties to mine….helps when you need to tie it around yourself for an achy back.

  10. I’m also wondering how much rice you used. Please share!!

    1. Hi Kim –
      I used up to 3/4 cup of rice per section. I sewed 6 sections. So 4 and a half cups of rice.

  11. Have you considered making a youtube video tutorial? My daughter is just learning to sew and really wants to make these as gifts, but is struggling in some areas. Just a thought. Regardless, you did a beautiful job with these.

    1. Please let your daughter know she can email me if she has any questions.

  12. I made some similar, but made my pattern from a hot water bottle….that was a few years ago. It is time to make more for gifts, so I will use this pattern, and some pretty flannel instead of the felt I used before. They are also great for leg cramps at night! They last forever and really work great.

  13. Love this pattern! I just made 2 for my son’s teachers with a red chevron pattern for Christmas! Thanks!!

  14. Thank you for your tutorial. Am currently making these as BD and Christmas gifts. We have a lot of December BDs.

  15. Jasmine Harris says:

    How many uses can you get out of this?

    1. Tons! Just do not overheat the rice where it starts cooking. Then it will go bad.

  16. Do you think I could use fleece material?

  17. Christina Moore says:

    I add lavender flowers to the rice! The scent lasts through many uses. <3

  18. Love this idea. Planning on making one for my aunt who has a horrible back. She has scarw from using an actual heating pad. I think this will be a great alternative. I do need a little help. I was honestly being a little lazy, didn’t feel like digging for my Velcro so I grab my babyville pliars. Put a snap on a piece of flannel and put it in the microwave for 1 minute. First of all, snaps are a bad idea. Lol. Way too hot. I also noticed that my flannel has a huge burn mark. I don’t think my fabric was pre washed… Its just a scrap from a mystery bag. Could that be why it burned? I want to make one but don’t want to burn more fabric. 🙁 help!

    1. Loren –
      Such a nice idea to make one for your aunt. The only reason I would think the fabric could burn is more than likely from the area by the metal snap. And you only need to heat it for up to 2 mins. You could also have a hot microwave – so you could heat for less.
      Good luck,

    2. Tracie Moore says:

      From various other tutorials, I’ve learned that the fabric should be 100% cotton, in order not to burn or be a fire hazard.

  19. Kym Green says:

    Hi I am just wondering if I could put dried lavender in this as well as rice?

  20. Patty Visk says:

    I use a men’s tube sock and put about 2 lbs of rice in it and sew it shut. Then I sew a fleece covering for it that is just a little longer than the tube sock and about 6 inches wide. Super fast to make. Makes great Christmas gifts.

    1. Patty Visk says:

      I use the fleece as a cover that can be taken off and washed.

  21. Shell @ Leatherly Yours says:

    Beautiful heating pad. I just love DIY products. Will have to try this one out! 🙂

    Thanks Sara

  22. I am a terrible sewer but I just made one of these and I love it. I also made some handwarmers. I used Flaxseed inside of mine.
    Great instructions like these gave me confidence to say, “Yeah, I can do this!” Happy Holidays.

  23. My cousin and I made these as Christmas presents years ago. We did not section them. We made a muslin bag about oh, maybe 6″x15″ poured in the rice and sewed it shut. We then made a pretty cover (opening in the center like a sham) that could be removed and washed. We heat ours for 3 minutes. The steam from the rice helps to sooth you. Because ours are not sectioned, they are floppy and you can really adjust where you want that warm rice to be. We call ours Bed Buddies because like Sally mentioned, they are great to put between the sheets before bed. They are great for menstrual cramps and growing pains too. My brother’s family of 7 called them t.v. buddies. Everyone would heat theirs up before settling in for their Friday night movie (video in those days). Mine is probably 20 yrs old or more and still gives me lots of comfort. I keep it in my sock drawer

    1. Thanks for the tips Rita! I always love hearing how things are made differently. Great tips!

  24. Love the idea of the rice bags. Hopefully this project will be easy enough for me as I am just beginning to see. Thank you.

  25. I also have made these for years but I make them with an added step. I mark with chalk the tubes into squares. It is a little more trouble but I fill each tube with a scant quarter cup of rice, sew the bottom square marking, fill the next rows of tubes with the scant quarter cup of rice and sew that row etc. so that when the tubes are all filled and I sew the top closed I now have a rice bag that has squares of rice that really stay put. I gave one to a friend and she has told me recently that she uses it as an ice bag as well as a heat wrap. They are awfully nice because they drape over a shoulder or knee etc.

  26. I have made a ton of these after learning how on pinterest. One thing i added was handles to each end. People love to be able to hold them around their neck or waist. Well done!


    1. Hi Nina – good point about microwave…. I am not sure how to warm it without one. Anyone have suggestions for Nina?
      – Sara

        1. Thanks for sharing the link about warming a rice heating pad in the oven!

    1. I do not think fabric glue would work since you have to warm it by putting it in microwave…..

  28. I am going to try a square pad with catnip for my aging cat… And what do you thing about adding a dryer sheet to a regular one… For the easy scent selection???

  29. Could you sew the chambersor pOckets to put rice in then go back and fill them.
    Once rice in chambers it would be diffic to sew next chamber.

  30. hi!
    I made a blogpost about father’s day gift ideas (only in finnish, unfortunately), and linked to your blog, to this post. The instruction and pictures are awesome, thank you so much for that 🙂 i had to make this on my own too!
    Have a happy week!
    with best regards, piia from studio loimu, finland’s lapland

  31. Thanks foR the Tutorial ! I’ll make some as christmas gifts. I have one question could you add scented Bath salts to add arOma?

    1. Hi there – not sure about scented bath salts. I have only added essential oil.

  32. I have used a tube sock before in an emergency when I could not find my rice bag. And used Jasmin rice. It has a wonderful smell that lasts because it is grown into the rice. In the emergency I just tied a knot in the top of the sock.

    1. I used a mens tube socket also. I also filled it with rice and tied it in a knot for an impromptu situation. The thing promptly began to smoke and caught on fire! I had to put out the fire quickly. It was in the microwave less than two minutes. Sometimesithink-krissy.blogspot I’m assuming it was the type of fabric that was the problem. I am now going to research what kind of fabric should definitely be used.

      1. NameKrissy Knox says:

        That last comment should read “tube sock”.

  33. I bought one at a craft fair many years ago. this one you could heat or place in the freezer.
    do you know what type of beans were in these? i’d love to duplicate it, as i use both hot and cold on my back, at work.

    1. I do not know what type of dried bean they used… I have only used rice. Good luck!

  34. I have made many of these using either rice, dried corn and lately Dried lentils. The Lentils don’t have the “smell” problem that heated Rice or Corn can have. I have a sensitive nose: )

  35. Hey, thank you for this useful tip! I have just a question – how many times can i use this? Is it somehow limited? Thanks. 😉

  36. GREAT tutorial, THANKS FOR POSTING! THIS IS SUCH a thoughtful HANDMADE GIFT THAT ONLY TAKEs AROUND 2 HOURS TO MAKE! (OR THREE If you’re LIKE ME AND haven’t USED YOUR SEWING MACHINE IN A WHILE) just a tip, if you use pepermint essential oil, it leaves your neck with a tingly menthol feeling! (That i personally enjoy) Gave It to MY SISTER as a christmas gift and she LOVES IT!

  37. I made these for everyone last year and embroidered their names on each one. They were a big hit.

  38. Is there a reason you used flannel or would plain cotton work?

    1. Plain cotton would work. I make them with flannel because they are cozier and softer.

  39. Thank you I much for the idea! We live in a Retirement community & a few of us have been trying to get ideas for DIY projects. I think this will be Great. As they say” the older you get the more pains you have”. How true that is.
    Again Thank you!
    Have a Vary Merry Christmas
    And a Wonderful New Year!

  40. Can I use some sort of fabric glue instead of sewing closed? Just curious if I could since this will get microwaved!

    1. I would not recommend using glue as over time I would think it would ruin from microwave.

  41. I went to a spa and I could have sworn the heated neck pad had sand in it. Is that a thing? Can I make this with silica sand?

  42. I use recycled denim for my bags with removable flannel or cotton covers that can be washed. My fill preference is feed corn from WalMart.

  43. I’m trying to renew my sewing skills and thought I’d make a rice heating pad. One site said to use only 100% cotton fabric and 100% cotton thread if one is going to put it in the microwave or it will catch fire. I’ve tested my fabric (another lesson learned) and now have 100% cotton fabric. But I can only find cotton covered polyester thread. Has anyone used thread that wasn’t 100% cotton? Has anyone over the years had a problem with the rice heating pad catching fire?

  44. Sewing at the intervals let’s the collar conforms to you neck. If you don’t do this the rice will pocket at different places.

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