Rice Bags Made Easy

D67C67FB-F50B-4274-9961-2C09DBD09D5CWe have made a variation of these for years.  They are popular gifts, and when we saw extended family recently, there was much praise over Aunt Joan’s rice bag.  Hints about needing more were not missed.  The next generation has moved out on their own and needed more.

I had gotten pretty fancy and used coordinating fat quarters, stitched multiple channels and had gifted numerous 20 x 17 inch mini weighted blankets that after a few moments in the microwave provided instant bliss to the wearer.  In winter, I like to heat mine and tuck it under the covers like a hot water bottle, so my feet are bathed in sauna type heat when I climb into bed.

My niece keeps hers in a zip lock in the freezer and uses as a wrap for sports injuries.

The sewing teacher in me saw an opportunity.  We needed a work party!

The Friday after Christmas, we gathered at my daughters house.  She had received a serger and was anxious to use it. Coffee and tea and cousins were involved and everyone brought rice.

We made enough sixteen channeled 20″ x 20″ bags for everyone to take one home.

Then I heard a request for a knee wrap that is long and skinny and so and so would love one, my friend expecting her first baby needs this…

So we streamlined the process, and made more till we used all the rice.

My daughter was so excited, she ran out and bought more supplies, and as the professional photographer, took photos of the process, which I am pleased to share with you here.

  1.  Gather your supplies:  100% cotton fabric with a tight weave.  Non metallic please.  Quilting cotton works great.  Rice – Costco size is great- we used brown rice too.  Some people use feed corn (not pop corn).   Cotton thread!  Not sure how poly thread does in the microwave.  The biggest bowl you can get your hands on, a scoop or measuring cup, a funnel with a wide mouth is awesome- canning funnels work as do some automotive, as long as the rice can flow freely through the small end.  Alternatively, a card stock funnel could be helpful.  Optional bay leaves and whole spices or herbs like pepper, peppermint, lavender, etc.  A sewing machine, and standard tools.

2.  Cut your fabric.  We decided a 6 inch wide cut with 3/8 inch seams would work.  This was cut across the width of the fabric. In our work party, we were pressed for space, so I clipped the selvage edges at 6.5 inches and tore strips.  Either works!

CBAC2FB8-3E08-401B-8BA9-81CB49AE56B7I spy a familiar table sheet.  After she saw mine, my daughter requested one.

3.  Press down the short edges the width of the selvage.

This will give you a nice edge to work with and stitch closed at the end.  At our work party, we basted this edge so it would stay put.  Basting is a very cool step that saves ripping later.  It is also excellent sewing practice for new sewists.

3.  Stitch the side seams.  Sew with rights sides together.

2CFD59F9-135D-4E6B-A197-BB6228C6706BA straight stitch works fine.  Ms.  “must use my new serger” really enjoyed this part.  Tip- start from the open edges after you have positioned them as even as you can get them.  Back stitch at both ends or tuck in those serger tails.  Sew both sides.  A half inch seam allowance is great here!

4.  Turn your bag right side out and press. Use a chopstick to poke out those corners.

Tip- press the edges and narrowly top stitch around the three sewn edges to reinforce those seams and add spillage protection.



5.  Press well, and hot dog fold to get a crease lengthwise down the center.

6.  Starting at the open end with the edges as closely matched as you can muster, stitch along the crease.
7.  Press creases for the future horizontal seams.  We decided that dividing in thirds worked better than half, as it leaves a pocket of hot rice at the back of your neck as well as the sides.

You can also mark these with a friXion pen, chalk, or #2 pencil.  Stay away from water erasable markers.  We want to keep that rice dry.

8.  You are now ready to fill the first chambers with rice!  Get out the Big Purple bowl!
09A6537F-CF72-4EA2-BA73-FA6FD024B99DSorry I did not leave a funnel for her to use.  This might be the cap to laundry detergent.  Use what you have!

The idea is to fill both chambers evenly.  A good guide is to fill to the point halfway between markings. A57B793C-AFC0-4369-A392-97FAEFD5F5AB9.  You can pin across the bag just above the level of the rice to help hold it in place while you stitch across that first marked line.  Safety pins are nice.    Or skip the pins with only two chambers.  For the bigger bags, you will want pins to keep rice from spilling.
10.  Do the same for the next two sets of chambers, keeping your amounts/ levels of rice even.  Be sure to add a bay leaf, before you sew that last opening closed.  They keep bugs at bay.

When heating your rice bag, start with 30 second increments, as volume of rice, wattage of microwaves can vary.  For this size, 2-3 minutes will be good.  Whatever you do, do not overheat, or get this item wet.  Once your rice bag is no longer useful, accidental trip through the washer, cat got to it, etc,  I would add it to the compost.

Like a quilt, mark the date on your rice bag.  It will give you a chuckle down the road.
B1C56F2D-E179-4E45-A099-47129CC7DAA8                                                            ***Warm wishes 2002***
Below is a collection of our vintage bags.
Some are 4 x 6 grids the pepper bag, reverse side of above is a 5×5 grid made from fat quarters.  I used 1/4 cup of rice in each chamber with a 24-25 chamber bag, about 6 cups of rice.  With the 15 chamber bags (4 x 4 grid) we used 1/3 cup rice in each chamber (5.33 cups total)  One cup of the rice we used weighed 8 ounces.  So with a little math you can plan your rice needs.  These weigh 2-3 pounds.

B198E6B9-0207-4D98-A2FA-E157D9E0D6D1This post may contain affiliate links which means I may receive a small commission from the seller if you purchase an item with them.  Thank you.

Warm Wishes to you in 2020, and happy sewing!  Joan


Blanket sleeper tweaks Jalie 3244

This brings back so many fond memories of my babies in blanket sleepers. Cool nights and blanket sleepers go together like tea and crumpets!7747B0A7-824A-4DDB-A51C-1972DF68C463My oldest mentioned she was having a hard time finding the footed version for her baby.  Baby is not yet crawling. Once she is standing there will be appliqués of gripper fabric on the soles of these.

Grandma to the rescue!

I started with Jalie 3244.  Love the extended sizing in this pattern line.  Maybe next year the adults will all get one!

I made a first version in red that was perfect for holiday wear.  Took photos as I put this together yesterday morning.

In order to extend the zipper to the ankle, I extended the back inside leg from crotch to hem by one inch, and took one inch off the width of the front inside leg also from crotch to hem.  This is for a 12 month size.  A larger size may need a proportionally larger adjustment.

I serged the center back seam, and top stitched that.  Then serged the inside leg of one front to one back, and top stitched that. The top stitching makes the seam lay flat against the inside of the garment and not bug baby.

Three parts sewn together look like this:


Next, I clipped/pinned a 22 inch long zipper right sides together to the single remaining leg/body piece. A longer zip will be needed for larger sizes.
2859EEA6-F91F-4124-81DF-507A5A7A6FFA Using my quilting foot, since my zipper foot was no where in sight, stitched the zipper along the long side of the center front/leg. Flipped the zip over and top stitched.

Next, I matched up the notches of the front piece with the zip to the three pieces sewn previously.  Right sides together stitched the zip to that assembly. Thank goodness for the notches.  They are key to making this look good!

CD34296F-D8CE-4311-A949-CE72305D082FThe front section where three seams intersect are a lovely match up to the “notch” on the single front side where i decreased that inch.


Top stitched this side of the zipper.

Attached and top stitched the sleeves. Remember we want baby to be so comfortable, sleep comes easy.
CE69D473-A316-4E42-AC86-9CCB3AF1F1ECI made the little feet separately, since the side seams would not line up.686EE9E1-D6A4-43D3-A696-5F8B9C040355It was simple to slip them inside the PJ legs, match up notches and sew them on.

7147FF7D-DBFE-4BA6-B263-8BD1534084C2I found this cotton lycra polka dot for cuffs and neckband, and zipper cover tab.  It was a scrap from another project and just enough.  In more than one pattern review I read that cuffs were snug.  I cut these a bit bigger.

I stitched one edge of the collar to the pj neckline with a narrow zig zag (.5 wide 2 long).  Right sides together.  Although next time, I might sew the band to the back side and wrap around to the front.

To make a nice front edge, this is how I interpreted the instructions.  Wrap the front edge of the neck band around itself, sandwiching the zipper top and sew to the notch.  Have I mentioned how much I love notches yet?  Do the same for the other side. Perhaps trim if your fabric is bulky.

I would have hand tacked this band down if there was more time.  Instead I pinned and topstitched.

Also added a tab to cover the zipper pull. Hand stitched a hook and eye to the tab and reinforced section of Pj in the car on the way.  Thank goodness for gift bags!

7747B0A7-824A-4DDB-A51C-1972DF68C463This post may contain affiliate links, which could pay me a small commission at no additional cost to you if you choose to use them.

Happy winter sewing – Joan

Reusable produce bags

EEA87258-75BF-47CC-A310-2E1E395663C7Decades ago, I made fabric gift bags for my children’s birthday party favors.  We still use the versions I made in rip stop nylon for vacation packing and pool visits today.   There is a collection of bags we pull out at holiday time to wrap gifts in.  I enjoy sewing a few every year to add to the collection or give away.

This batch of bags is made from a thrifted cotton sheer curtain.  Nylon would also work nicely, perhaps a cooler iron setting would prevent mishaps?  I washed the curtain and cut it into rectangles roughly 13 inches by 36 inches.

I pressed the short edges after folding them over about a half inch.  Spray Starch is super helpful here.


Then I folded the short edges over another inch and pressed again.


To create the casing for the ties, I opened up the second fold, imagined a 2 inch square box on each of the corners.  I folded each corner down diagonally across this box.



Pressed again, then refolded that one inch back down across the short end. 1F8D3328-ACFF-4283-94BF-211FE2A1ACC1

It was simple to sew across this edge to form the casing.  I made sure to back tack the beginning of each seam and the end  of the casing.


with the sheer fabric it is hard to see the layers.  Here is another photo. Seam ripper shows casing opening.

With the wrong sides together, I stitched each side seam with a 1/2 inch seam allowance.  Trimmed this down to 1/4 inch.

Turned the bag wrong side out and stitched a 3/8 inch seam on both side seams.


When opened up that seam looks like this (without drawstrings).


The two draw strings pictured are nylon cording cut about 5” longer than the full Circumference of the bag.  This gives room for tying knots at the end.  If your cords fray, you can carefully melt the ends over a candle before running through the casings.  This time I used a bodkin, but a safety pin, hair pin or crochet hook have all been handy.  The two drawstring method makes it fun to pull on each end to cinch up the bag!
I thread both through at once, tie off ends and pull one cord to have one knot at each opening.