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Hot/Cold Rice Bag

Have a sore muscle? Or how about some lower back pain? Did your little one fall and get a goose egg on their forehead?


We needed a therapeutic hot/cold bag around here…..without forking over any money for one.

(Place in the microwave for a few minutes for some lasting heat. Or place in the freezer for several hours to use a cold compress.)


Here’s how to make your own.


You’ll Need:

  • Fabric rectangle, 25 x 12 inches
  • 2 pieces of wide ribbon, 10 inches long each
  • Rice…….(I didn’t count but I’m thinking around 8-10 cups)
  • Thread, sewing machine, scissors, etc


Lay your piece of fabric flat. Here’s where you can add other strips of fabric and such, to spice it up. Just make your finished piece of fabric 25 x 12 inches.


Then fold your piece of fabric in half, lengthwise, with right sides together. Using a 1/2 inch seam allowance, sew your fabric into a tube. Turn right side out.


Fold the ends of one end in, about a 1/2 inch. Tuck the ends of one of pieces of ribbon into the opening, about a 1/2 inch. Sew into place.


Then divide your tube into different rice sections. This will keep hot/cold rice in all parts of the bag while around your neck and such………….so the rice doesn’t slip to each end of the bag. I divided my bag into 4 equal parts.


Then pour a couple cups of rice (I didn’t measure exactly) into the bottom of the bag and pin closed.


Then sew that section closed and repeat until all of your sections are filled.


Tuck the ends in on the other end of the bag and slip the ends of the other piece of ribbon in as well. Pin closed and sew into place.


Now your ready for some relief.




One more thing…… of my sponsors, The Sock Drawer, is having another giveaway on her blog here. Go check it out………’s unbelievably cute.


Ashley Johnston
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Ashley Johnston

Owner at Make It & Love It
Ashley Johnston is a professional DIY costume maker, sewist, crafter, and owner of Make It & Love It. She is a mom of 5 and a wife to a very patient (with the craft clutter) husband. In case you’re wondering, she always chooses crafting/sewing/designing over mopping/dusting/wiping base boards……but bathrooms/laundry/full bellies are always attended to. Whew!
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  1. Mary says:

    I know you have said to use only cotton fabric and thread. What about the ribbon handles? Do they need to be 100% cotton also?

  2. Brandee says:

    I bought a rice pack made by a lady. She made it with soft/velvet material. Is it going to make it stick to stuff in the freezer. I have never used one for cold yet.

  3. Karen says:

    I would not recommend putting the rice bag in the freezer. The condensation causes the rice to become wet then it can mold in the fabric. Only use these as a muscle relaxer/pain reliever, or body warmer ( i use mine at the foot of my bed in the winter time.) And I use terry cloth towels for the bags i make and fill them loosely with rice so they can form over anyplace you need them

  4. Dominique says:

    I have loved this idea for a long time but never got around to it. Now i found an old t-shirt that is “100% pre-shrunk cotton” it ok to use this? I know its cotton but I’m not sure if the pre-shrunk part matters. Thanks!

  5. Barb Gardiner says:

    I’ve made these for Years!! I suggest using an additional layer, to prevent any burns if it gets too hot. I use clean old odd socks for the lining

  6. Sally says:

    Sometimes I make them in a sealed bag and then make a removable cover for them, without the straps.
    I make the inner bag from cotton muslin and fill 1/3 to 1/2 full of the feed corn [cleaned, re-dried corn].
    They have been very popular with family & friends also.

  7. Sally says:

    I’ve made about 500 of these for gifts and family use. I use up all my COTTON scraps and the feed corn.
    Have made all shapes and sizes. Just don’t store in plastic or air tight places! Corn can mold .
    Holds the heat much better than rice. Only need to heat about 1 min 30 sec if your microwave is fairly new.
    I always heat each one at least once before I give them away, just in case they don’t use them right away,
    to kill any eggs that might be in corn. Everyone loves them. Have made them for many friends who are
    going through chemo treatments also!

  8. laurel says:

    how long do you microwave yours?

  9. Cyndee Phelps says:

    My Mom got one of these heat/cold bags from the drug store – homemade one is so much cuter. I used scraps of material ( kid printed material for the kids and sports for the guys – and cute prints for the ladies) – makes a great gift!

  10. mari says:

    use cotton thread too,poly can burn. made mine out of flannel cozy. I made small ones maybe about 3 ” to use as pocket warmers.

  11. lee says:

    so do you use plastic to line the fabric or not ?? and what kind of fabric?? thanx

    1. JT says:

      I never ever use plastic. 100% cotton fabric works best. I personally like to use hand towels or wash rags. I do not use the corn due to possible allergic reactions. Also if not used or not kept in a moisture free environment, corn will mildew. I have always used only rice. I also like to put my rice in a closed muslin bag. Then I make a “pillow case” out of the towel/terry cloth. That way it can be kept clean. :)

  12. dental care for cats says:

    Hi there! This article could not be written much better!

    Reading through this article reminds me of my previous roommate!
    He constantly kept talking about this. I am going to send this article to him.
    Pretty sure he will have a great read. Many thanks for sharing!

  13. Rhencis says:

    Hi! DO you know how long does a rice bag last? HOw many times can i use it? Will the rice inside spoil?

    1. Anonymous says:

      I made a bag back when she first posted this in 2009. I use it every winter and it’s still good. The rice hasn’t gone “bad” and still holds heat just as we’ll as when I first made it.

  14. Annette says:

    I just finished one of these. Even though I pinned the sections, I had problems machine sewing it because the bulk of the rice section just seemed to get in the way. I think I used 2 cups per section and THAT was the problem. So mine looks cute unless you look at the seams and you can see where they are all over the place. I was going to stitch ribbon to hide it but I decided not to. I made mine from three different fabrics.

  15. Shannon says:

    Thanks for such a great idea! Just took up sewing this week and made one of these! Your instructions were so clear and my mom is going to love this present! Thank You!

  16. Annette says:

    Wonderful tutorial, really great pictures. I have a baby shower next month and this is the perfect gift to whip up for the new mom (and dad)! Thanks for sharing!

  17. barbara wade says:

    I love this site, how do I find the instructions for some of the projects?

  18. Shelbi says:

    Don’t you have to change out the rice at some point?

  19. Jen says:

    We made 6 of these as Christmas gifts – I had “help” from my 3 and 6 year old. They loved it. Especially the 6 year old who sewed the bags pre-rice. It is a good 1st project. Thanks for such great instructions

  20. Casey says:

    I just made one of these for a gift, amazing! Of course, I had to try it out to make sure it would work! I posted it on my blog and linked back to you and I posted your button, I just love all your tutorials, thank you!

  21. harrysdesk says:

    Hi Ashley,
    Love the as gifts for teachers.
    Who needs a heat/cold bag more than them!!
    Thanks for writing up the tutorial.
    I have featured it…along with some other gifts for teachers here….
    ….if you would like to take a look.

    Ally on harrysdesk.

  22. Amy says:

    Oh My Just made one of these & i Love it already! I mixed my rice & some lavender oil together before putting it in . It smells so nice! About those aromatherpy beads? Would they not melt in the micro?

  23. Jen says:

    I can’t wait to make these. Your site is GREAT! One of the best and suit my style, I love it. Thanks for all your hard work.

  24. Maria says:

    Love it! Made one today using your measurements and four compartments. I ended up using 2 pounds of rice exactly – about 5.5 cups. Next time I think I will use a little less. I think 1 1/3 cups of rice is about right to fill each section. Thanks so much for the pattern!

  25. Carrie Ann says:

    I am 29 weeks pregnant with a high risk pregnancy and among other issues I am suffering sever back pains due to gall bladder disease. I will definitely whip one of these up and use it when I go into labor to help with the back labor pains I experienced with my last 4 deliveries!!

  26. Bethany says:

    Love it! Mine smells like cooked rice so maybe next time I'll try filling it with something else, but it feels so good!

    I made this and the grocery bag holder. So fast and easy! Thanks for the tutorials!

  27. Jessica says:

    Thank you very much! I just completed one with the help of my 4yr old – he loved filling the tube with wheat!
    So quick and easy yet very practical – my kind of sewing.
    Now I want to make one with a washable cover.

  28. Renida says:

    Wow! This was easy to make. I just learned how to sew and this was my first project. The only hard part was making sure the rice stayed in place while sewing the section closed. Thank you for sharing!

  29. Anne says:

    i just made one of these tonight and it could not have been easier. i found a remnant of black and brown plaid for 62 cents (it's for my dad and pretty much all of my fabric would be too girly for him!), and used plain old store brand white rice. I also tested it in my microwave just to make sure there were no mishaps. :o)

  30. Christie says:

    I've made 13 tubes and one finished hot/cold pack so far. This is my very first sewing project and I'm so pleased! My dd9 and I are making lots for Christmas gifts this year. Thank you for the great tutorial!

  31. Anonymous says:

    Hey there, I was just wondering what kind of rice did you use??? This is a great gift for some of my family!!! They had bought some a long time ago and used them sooo much that they blew up on them!!!

  32. Jeanette says:

    Ashley, just made these for two of my cousins for their birthday, and they LOVED them!!! Thank you so much for sharing. Whenever I need a great idea for a gift I always seem to end up at your blog.

  33. Mary-Jeanine & Stefan says:

    I Love the idea of ribbons at the ends. I've made dozens of these, and never thought about ribbons. Two suggestions: I put a smaller amount of rice in the, it fills up less than half the section, actually. I find this is more comfortable on the body than filling it so full. Also, I embroidered a tag that says: "Microwave 1 min" and insert it in the seam. thanks for posting!

  34. Amie says:

    I just made one of these today. Check out my blog for a picture! Thanks for posting. :)

  35. Christy says:

    I just made this and love it! I've made so much of your stuff recently. You're welcome to come see.
    I always link back to you. Thanks for the inspiration.

  36. Karin Marie says:

    Love this! Just finish making one for my MIL! ;) Great tute! I must go to Hobby Lobby they got some cute fabric!

  37. Ashley says:

    Hey Meredith, good for you for having that husband of yours help out. Perfect! However, next time…..don't put as much rice in that section. It doesn't have to be absolutely full. Once it's laying flat, the rice will spread out and fill up that section. Give it another try and let me know how it goes!


  38. Meredith says:

    Well, I got out my sewing machine that I got from Christmas and this was my first project! I bought some really cute fabric that's pink, gray, black and white paisley. For the ribbon handles I used black with white polka-dots. I turned out adorable, but I needed a lot of help from my husband. He helped me hold the fabric because I had a really hard time sewing the individual sections after the rice had been placed. Any helpful hints? I would really like to make more for my family.

    1. Anonymous says:

      use the pins to pin the fabric and then that will hold the rice in place out of the way.

    2. amanda says:

      I pin where it needs to be sewn for the section then I go below that line and pin another line of pins to keep the rice down

  39. Just me! says:

    thanks so much! I'm going to try this weekend! I LOVE your blog! I've been trying to come up with Christmas gift ideas and found so much info here! thanks thank thanks!

  40. Ashley says:

    Halahblue –

    Hmmmm…..I'm not sure why. Maybe the rice got too hot. Or maybe it was the fabric. I have never had this happen but I have only made mine with cotton. But sometimes microwaves can create hot spots, so maybe it was heated up too hot. Sorry I wasn't more helpful!

  41. Halahblue says:

    I made one of these once using flannel from an old shirt. When we microwaved it, the rice burnt through the flannel in some tiny spots.

    Any ideas why? I thought maybe it was just crummy fabric, but I've been apprehensive about making another one because of this.

    1. Mary Clement Douglass says:

      The fabric may have had some polyester in it. My guess is that the polyester melted and made to burn holes.

    2. Paula says:

      You have to use 100% cotton fabric, cotton thread and regular rice. It is always a good idea to wait by the microwave when you heat it up the first few times. I only heat mine for 3 min. That is what the instructions said. Can’t wait to make a few for the holidays. Have a great day.

    3. lifequilt says:

      Maybe your microwave has a higher watt count.

  42. Liz Wilcken says:

    My mom just made the same thing for herself recently, but used a sock! But this is way cute too!

  43. Jeanette says:

    my favorite thing to do with these is throw it in my bed a couple minutes before I climb in (in the winter).It makes my sheets all nice and toasty so I don't get that cold sheet shock that wakes you right up, just as you are wishing to go to sleep.

  44. CoveredInCrafts says:

    Thanks to you, I just made a few of these. I saw the same fabric in Hobby Lobby and it reminded me that I needed to start making things for the Christmas baskets. THANK YOU so much for the great tutorial. You're awesome.

  45. Mary Anna says:

    I made one of these a few months ago from a pattern in a book. I added some dried lavendar to it – it's heavenly!

  46. sewmarm says:

    This is a fantastic idea! Just looking at it makes me want to wrap it around my neck.

  47. Christie says:

    LOVE this and such a great tutorial! I have one that I bought from BedBathandBeyond several years ago thats not cute at all. I think it's definitely going to be replaced now. Thanks for sharing!

  48. Staci says:

    WOW great Christmas gift idea.

  49. Ashley says:

    That fabric is from Hobby Lobby. So cute and not very expensive. :)

    Oooh, and I've heard of people putting oils or scents in there. I didn't have any but that would be pretty fun.

    And corn feed. That's another good idea. Thanks!

  50. Heather says:

    I so need one of these – thanks for the tute.

  51. Gwen says:

    This will be great for gifts!

    I have a FQ of that fabric too! I love it, but wasn't sure what to use it with yet.

  52. Lindsey says:

    You are a mind reader! We were at our childbirth class last night when the instructor told us to get a rice bag. I thought I could probably make one and this post is perfect! Thank you!!!

  53. Serena says:

    where did you get that fabric? it's adorable!

  54. arieldom says:

    these are great i made them for everyone in my family last year for christmas and they loved them! i filled them with corn feed a huuuuge bag was only 10 bucks and it hold the heat way better and i find good weight!

  55. Lyanna says:

    I think I just may make one of these for just about everyone in my family!! Have you used any scented bead things with the rice, like lavender or chamomile, or mint, or anything along those lines to give an aromatherapy aspect to it also?

  56. Danny & Crystal says:

    That turned out so cute! I love rice bags–they're the best!

  57. Tarrah says:

    WAY cute! I have that same fabric on hand. I think im going to give it a try!

  58. Missy says:

    So easy and cute! I LOVE your blog! Thanks for sharing your creativity!

  59. Carrie says:

    I made one of those about a year ago and I LOVE IT!! I didn't ever think to put it in the freezer, I just use it for the heat…good idea!

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Hi, I’m Ashley—the DIY-enthusiast behind this crazy blog!

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