Are you looking at your list of gifts to make for the holidays and realizing there is no way to get it all done? This seems to happen to me ever year, no matter how early I start. There’s no reason to panic or feel sad, though.
Yes, hand-knit socks for everyone is not going to happen, but there is still plenty of time to make some simple gifts, like these pocket hand warmers. They’re great on their own, or you can combine them with other things for a themed gift. I’m planning to make extra, in case of any last-minute gift exchanges or visitors with cookies. Let’s get started so we can stop panicking and have some time to relax.
Here is where I would normally tell you to start by washing your fabric so it pre-shrinks. This might be the only time you don’t need to pre-shrink, though, because the finished hand warmers are not washable (they’ll be filled with rice). So just grab whatever 100% cotton fabric you have (even upcycled!) and get ready to make some pocket hand warmers.
There are two methods for assembling these pocket hand warmers: one with visible seams and one with hidden seams. We’ll start with the hidden seams since that method is very simple and doesn’t require a sewing machine or crazy-good stitching skills.
To make pocket hand warmers with hidden seams:
First, cut-out four, 4″ x 4″ squares of 100% cotton fabric. You can mix and match fabrics, or change the size to fit a pattern in the fabric, like plaid. 4″ x 4″ is just a guideline.
Note: make sure to use 100% cotton fabric so it does not burn or melt when heated in the microwave.
Next, take two of the squares and with the right sides of the fabric facing in, pin and sew them together with a 1/4″ seam almost all the way around. Leave about 1 – 1 1/2 inches open on one side so you can turn the fabric right-side out and add the rice:
This is a great project for practicing sewing skills, too, because mistakes and wobbly seams aren’t really noticeable once the hand warmers are turned right-side out and filled.
Next, turn the fabric right-side out, and push all of the corners out so they are as square as possible:
Then, use a funnel to add about 1/2 cup of uncooked rice. I used Basmati rice because it’s what we have in the house:
Last, tuck the raw edges of the opening inside so the sides are straight:
and sew the opening closed as neatly as you can:
Make the second pocket hand warmer the same way. That’s it!
To make pocket hand warmers with visible seams:
This method takes a bit more skill and practice, and definitely looks better done with a machine. I love how the finished pocket hand warmers look like tiny pillows, though, which keeps me practicing the technique:
First, cut-out four, 5″ x 5″ squares of 100% cotton fabric (see note above). Then take one square, and with the wrong side facing, fold and press 1/2″ on each side toward the middle. Fold and press the corners like this:
Repeat this for the other three squares.
Now pin two squares together with the edges aligned, and the folded parts and wrong sides facing in:
Sew the squares together on three sides with a 1/8″ – 1/4″ seam. This is the tricky part. It takes quite a lot of practice to get all four sides to align perfectly. The rice will stay inside even if they’re off a bit, so just do your best:
Next, remove the pins from the fourth side and fill the pocket with about 1/2 cup of rice:
Leave a little room because the fabric needs to be flat under the sewing machine foot. If you’re doing this by hand (hats off to your sewing skills!), then you can fill it a bit more.
Re-pin and sew the fourth side together with a 1/8″ – 1/4″ seam to match the other sides:
Make the second one the same way.
To heat pocket hand warmers:
- Place in the center of the microwave and heat for 15-30 seconds.
- Carefully test and if more heat is needed, heat for an additional 15 seconds.
- Carefully remove hot pocket hand warmers. They may be a little humid from the moisture in the rice.
- Over time, if the rice becomes dry and is no longer humid when heated, place a microwave-safe cup of water in the microwave during heating.
- Your microwave may be different to mine. Please use caution when heating your pocket hand warmers.
- Do not leave the microwave unattended, in case of fire. (this is always a good idea)
- Inspect for scorch marks before every use. There should not be any, but check just in case. Discard if you see any.
What you will need:
- 100% cotton fabric
- Cotton thread
- Tape measure
- Sewing needle
- Straight pins
- Sewing machine, for the visible-seam version
- Uncooked rice, about 1 cup per set of two hand warmers
Once you get going, you’ll be able to make tons of these in no time:
You can even pair pocket hand warmers with other things for a themed gift:
Or with some delicious peppermint bark (click here for the recipe):
Hopefully with these pocket hand warmers you can give everyone something handmade and also have time to enjoy the holiday season. I’m definitely looking forward to spending time with friends and family. And the food, if I’m honest. As always, feel free to ask questions or leave comments. Don’t forget to subscribe to Creatorvox to get new posts right in your email. You can also follow Creatorvox on Facebook and Twitter for more tips and tricks between posts. Thanks for reading, and happy making!