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Rice-Filled Microwave Hand Warmers
Our mini warming pads feature a great-to-grip jelly bean shape. Heat in a microwave for 20-30 seconds to deliver up to 30 minutes of soothing heat. Perfect for pockets! A clever thumb loop helps make sure the beans don’t budge when slipped inside a coat or sweater pocket. This is an excellent ScrapBusters project or use up some of your favorite 5” charm square pre-cuts. We offer a free downloadable pattern in three sizes plus a set of super cute tags.
As with anything you plan to heat in a microwave, we recommend 100% cotton fabric and thread. This includes the optional thumb loop. Look for cotton twill tape, ribbon, or try what we used: cotton shoelaces.
Our Jelly Beans are filled with scented rice. Essential oil is a great option as the rice absorbs and retains the oil, delivering a light scent. Plus, your sewing room will smell amazing as you work!
Don’t overfill the beans. We used just a third of a cup of rice. Besides helping to keep your fingers toasty, our Jelly Beans are fun to squeeze and roll across your palm. It’s a little like having a “worry bead” inside your pocket… just quite a bit larger!
If you’d like to try another type of organic filler, consider corn or flax seed. We have an article that reviews the heat retention of all three of these popular warming pad fillers. Just remember that with a hand warmer, you definitely want a smooth filler that is comfortable to hold onto for awhile in the palm of your hand.
Our free downloadable pattern sheet gives you small, medium, and large options. Our samples are all done in the largest size, which we tested in the hands of several of our S4H team members. It’s a good thing we made a lot of samples, because it was hard to get people to give them back for photography! If your intended recipient has smaller hands, or if you’re making the project for a child, consider going down in size. You can print more than one pattern sheet and cut out each of the options along their inner dashed line. Then, test the paper Jelly Bean in your hand (or whomever will be using the Jelly Bean) to determine the best size.
Our tests showed heating in a standard microwave for 20-30 seconds worked well to provide up to 30 minutes of warmth. Several factors will impact heat retention: the outside temperature, whether you are holding the Jelly Bean in your hand or have it in a pocket, and – if in a pocket – the inherent warmth of the coat/sweater itself.
For year ‘round use – and for our friends down under where it’s getting warmer not colder, the Jelly Bean can also be frozen and used as a soothing eye pack. In either case – warming or cooling, these are meant to be wiped or spot cleaned; do not launder them.
When determining the top and bottom, keep in mind the inner curve of the Jelly Bean is designed to curve around the large, soft pad at the base of the thumb. This means the outer curve runs along the base of the fingers. With the loop over your thumb, it’s a natural grip to close your fingers around the Jelly Bean and lightly squeeze to feel the soothing warmth.
These cute Jelly Beans are an excellent gift idea that will warm the hands – and the heart – of the recipient. You can set up an assembly line and whip out a Bundle o’ Beans in a single afternoon. They’re fast, inexpensive, and fun.
Download our free printable set of colorful tags that spell out the basic ingredients and instructions for use. If using a home printer, glossy photo paper is a great look and has just the right stiffness to trim out and punch with a hole, hanging the tag from the thumb loop. We used burlap twine.
The tag set is available here as a .PDF file. Click the image below to download. You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader DC, which is a free program. We’ve minimized the file size, but please be patient with the download process. In addition, make sure you have the latest version of Acrobat Reader DC and the latest version of your printer driver. Adobe does always recommend a re-start of your computer with any update. If you are experiencing printing issues, you can also try the Print as Image option in your printer’s browser window. This option is often under the Advanced tab. You can also save the downloaded PDF to your computer and print from there.
Each Jelly Bean finishes at approximately 4¾” wide x 2¼” high, excluding the thumb loop.
If you love this project, you might also enjoy are large rice filled warming pads for necks and backs as well as our soothing eye pillows, and/or the therapy neck wrap.
Sewing Tools You Need
- Sewing machine and standard presser foot
- Quarter Inch Seam foot; optional
- Satin Stitch foot; optional
Fabric and Other Supplies
NOTE: Ingredient quantities shown below are for one Jelly Bean.
- Scraps or Charm Squares of quilting weight 100% cotton fabrics; we used a selection of Charm Squares from our stash, originally from the Hey Dot collection by Zen Chic for Moda Fabrics – we used two different fabrics for the top and bottom of our sample Jelly Beans; you could follow this or use the same fabric on both sides
NOTE: As mentioned above, we offer three sizes of our Jelly Bean pattern; we used the Large size for all our samples and a 5” x 5” Charm Square was perfect for this size. You could go with slightly smaller scraps for the Medium or Small patterns.
- Approximately 4” of ¼” – ½” 100% cotton twill tape, ribbon, shoelace or similar for the thumb loop
- ⅓ cup of white rice
- Essential oil; optional
NOTE: Essential oils can be found in most organic sections at local groceries. The oils can be expensive but a little goes a long way.
- Bowl, spoon, and a measuring cup with a pouring spout or a funnel
- 100% cotton thread to match fabrics
- See through ruler
- Seam gauge
- Seam ripper
- Fabric pencil, pen or chalk
- Iron and ironing board
- Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
- Straight pins
- Hand sewing needle
Getting Started and Pattern Download
- Download and print the ONE pattern sheet. This one sheet contains all three sizes.
IMPORTANT: This pattern download is ONE 8½” x 11″ sheet. You must print the PDF file at 100%. DO NOT SCALE to fit the page. There is a guide line on the page so you can confirm your final printout is to scale.
- Choose your size and cut out the pattern along the solid line.
- If making more than one Jelly Bean, we recommend preparing all the pieces for each at one time, including winding a bobbin to match your main thread.
- If working with a directional fabric as we did, make sure your motif is facing right side up.
- Place what you want to be your “top” fabric (the dot fabric on our samples) right side up and flat on your work surface.
- Place the “bottom” fabric right side down on the top fabric; in other words, your two fabrics are right sides together and all raw edges are flush.
- Place the pattern on the two-layer stack and trace around its outer perimeter with a fabric pen or pencil.
- Using the circle on the pattern, mark the position for the thumb loop.
- Find the thumb loop; we used a cotton shoelace. Our cut length was 4”, which was fine for a normal adult thumb. If your intended recipient has very small hands or is a child, adjust the length shorter. If your intended recipient has large hands, adjust the length longer. Fold the length in half.
- Position the folded loop between the top and bottom layers at the marked point. The raw ends of the loop should be flush with the drawn perimeter of the pattern. Pin the ends in place through all the layers.
- Add two additional marking pins along the outer curve of the Jelly Bean about 2″ apart. These mark the opening that should be left for turning right side out and filling with rice.
At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board
- Thread the machine with thread to best match the fabric in the top and bobbin. Slightly shorten the stitch length.
- Stitch around the perimeter of the drawn Jelly Bean, ¼” in from the drawn line. We used the markings on our Satin Stitch foot to keep a consistent seam allowance. You could also use a Quarter Inch Seam foot, running the flange of the foot along the drawn line.
- Remember to start and stop the seam at the marked pins, leaving that approximate 2” opening for turning and filling.
- Go slowly and carefully to keep your curve as smooth as possible. It can also help to shorten your stitch length for more control around the curves.
- Trim along the original drawn perimeter line, except for right across the opening. At this 2” opening, leave the additional fabric, up to ½”. This will make it easier to slip stitch the opening closed after filling the Jelly Bean.
- Clip the curves and turn right side out through the small opening. Pull the thumb loop out into position. Gently smooth out the curves, using your finger or a long tool with a blunt end, like a large knitting needle, chopstick or point turner. Press flat, pressing in the raw edges at the opening so they are flush with the sewn seam.
- In a small bowl or measuring cup, mix the ⅓ cup of rice with a few drops of essential oil and stir. We used just two drops of the orange oil we chose.
- Using a funnel or similar, carefully pour the rice into the opening of the Jelly Bean.
- Let the filler fall towards inner curve. Pin the opening closed along the outer curve.
- Hand stitch the opening closed with a tiny ladder stitch.
Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Kathy Andrews, What Sew Ever
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Is there a way to print the directions so I don’t have to lug my sewing machine up to my computer?
Hello Christina – yes of course. Look for our SHARE bar which has all the quick buttons to allow you to share on social, print, email, and save as a PDF. If on your desktop, it is a vertical bar that travels as you scroll. On some smaller devices it may appear horizontally near the top. Below is a link which explains all the details:
Olá! O arroz tem prazo de validade. Você informa quando devera ser substituído o produto?
Hello – there is no one answer because it depends on how frequently the heating pads are used. Your best option is to determine when you think the heat is no longer lasting as long it once did. Some people use the same pads for years. Other people prefer to change them out every few months.
I know this is an incredibly stupid question, but is that like minute rice or the uncooked rice in the big bags?
Hi Marilyn – As they say, “there are no stupid questions!” Regular uncooked rice in the bags or bulk is the best option.
That’s not a stupid question. I wondered too!
Could you use 100% cotton flannel?
Hello Jane – Yes, 100% cotton flannel would work and would feel nice to the touch 🙂