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Re-imagine & Renovate: Microwavable Rice Pads

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If you've explored our Project Index lately, you know there are hundreds of Sew4Home articles and projects. It can be easy for some of the older entries to slip from memory. That's why we love the Re-imagine & Renovate series; it brings forward some of our favorite classic projects for another look. These microwavable neck and lap/back heating pads with organic fillers fit the bill, being one of our most popular projects ever in both the Gift and Special Use Pillows categories. After under a minute in the microwave, you'll get up to an hour of safe, warm heat.

Electric heating pads come with inherent dangers, such as burns, fires and electrical shock. By using heated organic fillers, you avoid these problems and get toasty warmth and a natural smell. Add a drop of essential oil if you'd like a little aromatherapy.

Everybody who makes these seems to have their favorite fillers. So we did a little testing to see if we could find out which one is best. Check out our comparison review of rice (what we used), corn and flaxseed

We show you dimensions and supplies for both a neck pad (22" x 8" flat) and a slightly larger lap/back pad (16" x 12" flat). Both pads are small enough to allow you to easily find fabric options in your scrap bin, which is exactly what we did. 

We selected two very different fabrics to show how you can personalize the pad to match the recipient. We changed things up from the classic ticking and fleece of the original pads; choosing a modern, more masculine feel for our R&R neck pad, and opting for a pretty floral look on the R&R back pad. 

The back pad uses Bouquet in Gray from the Flea Market Fancy Legacy Collection by Denyse Schmidt for FreeSpirit Fabrics. Originally used in our Make Fall Fabulous: Tablecloth Overlay with Cool CornersThe neck pad uses Frames in Graphite Grey from the Simply Style collection by Moda Fabrics. Originally used in our Colorful, Zippered Pencil Cases


The back of both pads is a medium-weight gray washed denim. 

To Re-imagine & Renovate your own rice heating pads, go to the original tutorial:

Microwavable Rice Pads

The new pads were made following the same construction steps as the original pads. The only alteration was to use a packaged white piping rather than rick rack. 

As shown in the instructions, the piping is positioned to accommodate a true ½" seam allowance, which means it will sit back a bit from the raw edge of the fabric. Because of the filler, you want the depth of a full seam allowance. 

Looking for more information on blending, mixing and matching your fabrics? Check out these tutorials:

How to Mix & Match Designer Fabric Collections

How to Create A Fabric Palette

Making the Right Fabric Choice



Comments (4)

Wendy H. said:
Wendy H.'s picture

Xmas season is upon us once again, so I'm busy stitching up gifts for family and friends. These are such a hit every year & I just wanted to say that I add essential oils to my rice for my rice bags. Believe it or not, I have also used herbal tea mixes such as sleepy time herbal tea to scent the bags as well. Herbal mint tea also works - just be sure it's an herbal tea, NOT a black or green leaf tea, which you then sprinkle into the rice prior to to inserting into the bags. Essential oils can be overpowering and some highly sensitive skinned people could possibly find they react to them, but the herbal tea mixes work wonderfully and add a delightful scent to the bags - really terrific for the eye rice bags. Can be added to whatever organic filler you use. 

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@Wendy - So glad this has been a winning pattern for you! And thanks for the hints - folks are always wondering about different filler and scent options!

CBrockman_1030. said:
CBrockman_1030.'s picture

I'm new to the site and I'm excited to be here to learn new techniques and to share.

Patricia Bernard said:
Patricia Bernard's picture

This is such an awesome and magnificent website, absolutely breathtaking prints and ideas

Well done