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.

 

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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.
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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.
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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

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It is in the bag!

Simple formula for lined bag with your choice of size, handle and closure!  So easy it is already “in the bag”.

 

Working with new sewists, I am continually on the look out for quick to make and clever useful projects.  More experienced seamsters can whip these out in batches. Early in the game sewists can experience easy success!    Teacher gifts, party favors, so many uses!  I am considering small bags from theme fabric to house a bar of hand made soap for an upcoming bridal shower.

Start with scraps if you like.  You will need two same size longish rectangles.  The formula is as follows:

Desired bag width plus 1 inch for seam allowances.  Desired height of bag times 2.5 to 2.75 for a generous flap.  If you have a specific item to bag, measure it now!

Play around with what you have on hand to start with and have some fun!

Right sides together, with a quarter inch seam allowance, sew both rectangles along one short side.

Open this.  Press the seam allowance towards the lining, and under stitch.  Under stitching will roll the seam towards the lining so this edge looks really clean.

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View of back side of bag after under stitching and top stitching!

 

Press and top stitch with a fancy stitch if you like.  If you plan to close your bag with hook and loop tape, include one side of the tape along the edge of the front of your bag now.

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For a firmer flap add a bit of fusible interfacing!

Align your work and trim off any excess fabric that may be caused by the under stitching.    With right sides together, pin the pieces together and draw a fancy shape for the flap, or leave it straight.  A hex ruler might be a nice tool to keep both sides symmetrical.  Stitch this seam.  A straight seam would under stitch nicely!

Optional “wrap” the corners of your fancy cut flap.

Make a strap!  A 14×3 inch rectangle folded rst lengthwise, stitched with a quarter inch seam turned and top stitched works great.  As does ribbon, webbing or twill tapeimage

Pin your strap that has been folded in half with raw edges aligned to the raw edges of the bag and the folded edge towards the center of the bag.  Set it just below where your flap ends and the bag begins so that it ends up near the top of your bag.  Baste in place.  In the photo my strap raw edges extend past the raw edge of the bag. This adds security and keeps the selvages on the strap from showing on the finished bag.

 

 

Now on for the tricky part:  See above, pull the bottom of the bag so that it covers the strap.  Pin the bag (both layers) to the outside cover only of the front of the bag on the right and left sides.  Then slip the lining of the bag over the front of the bag.  This basically turns the bag wrong side out and the lining will form a loop on top with the outer bag also forming a loop on the bottom.  The bag portion will be tucked up into the flap, but only just past the strap.    The remainder will be the flap.  If you are creating a specific size bag to fit a particular item.  Now is the second good time to measure.  (The first would be before you cut the fabric.) In the photo I used clips, as I had lined these bags with PUL.

 

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Side seam stitched with “L” seams!

Align right sides together, and make a 3/8 inch seam along this edge.  Making sure to back stitch over the strap to secure it.

Make sure the second side of you bag is lined up and symmetrical to the side you just sewed.

Create two “L” seams along this edge.  Start at the top and just about a half inch after you sew across the many layers of the sides of the bag.  Pivot and stitch to the edge creating a seam that looks like the capital letter “L”.  Then a few inches later along this edge, make another “L” seam that serves two purposes.  It leaves a clean and sturdy opening for turning and finishes the side seam of the bag.  A small bag needs a smaller opening than a larger bag.

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Second half of “L” seam!

Suggested ratio would be to leave an opening half the length of the bag side.

 

Flip it the bag right side out, this may take multiple flipping to be sure the lining is on the inside.  Poke out corners with a handy tool (chopsticks work great here!).  Pin the opening closed with the raw edges neatly tucked inside.  Top stitch narrowly to ensure that the opening is securely closed.

 

Complete the closure by adding the other half of the hook and loop tape to the inside of the flap, or add snaps, buttonholes and buttons, or whatever makes your heart happy. Kam Snaps make my heart happy!  I get mine locally at Hip Stitch and would be glad to show you how easy they are to apply.  A pattern with measurements, and possibly kits will be available in July 2016.

This makes a great snack bag, holiday gift bag, cosmetics, or think fusible fleece for an electronics bag.

Happy sewing!  Joanimage