I had a microwave warmer in the shape of a pig (he was a birthday gift years ago) but the grain inside gradually cooked as I used it so much, and my hamster kept trying to eat him (it clearly smelled like food) so after some 'research' I took out the old grain and replaced it with some mung beans- which made me realise how easy it would be to make a whole new one for myself too, and I thought I'd share the instructions with you.
You will need:
Material (the material I'm using is actually from an old pair of pj's that were ruined by spilling candle wax all over them....) ideally use something quite soft, but sturdy (you don't want it ripping and spilling out your filling!) fleecy material might be nice.
Needles or a sewing machine
Thread- preferably in a colour to match your material (I just used white)
Pins (to hold the material in the right place when you're sewing)
Filling- you can use most dried things: like rice (regular long grain, not quick cook), lentils, wheat (which is what most warmers you can buy in shops use) beans etc. If you're unsure if something will work- give it a quick test in the microwave and see if it retains heat. I think rice is the cheapest option, but I chose mung beans as I found some old ones in the pantry (I hate to think how old they are...)
1) I want to make a rectangular hand warmer that's about 20/25cm by 10cm, so I start with a peice of material about 30cm by 25cm- this give me plenty of seam allowance. You can choose any shape or size you want (tiny ones would be good to hold in your hands, big ones can make great heating pads to replace hot water bottles in your bed) just make sure you allow for seams when you cut out your material.
2) Fold the material in half to make the rectangle shape I want- make sure the outside is facing inwards (this means all the messy stitching is on the inside) and pin along the edges where you need to sew.
3) Sew along the top edge of the rectangle, then trim off the excess material (this will stop the seams being too bulky)
4) Re-Fold the material so that the top seam is now flat in the centre (I prefer to do this as the pouch doesn't have such pointy corners, but you don't have to do this step if you don't want to) Then re-pin the two open edges.
5) Sew up one edge completely, then sew the other end up about 2/3 of the way along and trim off any excess material.
|Sewn all the way along|
|Sewn 2/3 of the way along|
6) Turn the pouch inside out (pull it through the small hole you left on the side)
7) Fill the pouch just over 2/3 full with your chosen filling. If you don't have a funnel you can make a little cone out of paper that works just as well. (You may want to do this step over a tray- or you may be finding mung beans all over the floor for the next month!) I find it best not to fill it completely as it heats more evenly, and allows the warmer to mould to the shape you want easily.
|The mung beans I used.|
|High-tech filling system...|
8) Sew up the last little hole: fold the edges inwards to give a neat edge, and pin it together, then sew it up. I used a giant plastic paperclip (I find some very odd things in my house sometimes...) to hold the beans at the other end of my pouch- you can use some thread/ribbon etc. to do the same (it stops the filling getting in the way)
See, how easy was that? I suppose there is a fair amount of sewing involved, but it's all very simple stiching (nice straight lines!) and for me the most complex part was filling it... even with a funnel I somehow spilled mung beans all over the place... I've hoovered but I keep finding them hiding in corners!
I think these might make some rather cute gifts too - you can add ribbons or other decorations to them to make them extra pretty, and I've heard that you can put dried lavender or pot pourri etc to make them smell nice once heated.
I hope these instructions were easy to follow (I'll be happy to answer any questions- leave me a comment or drop me an email)
I would love to know if you make one (let me know!) and and I hope they help you stay snuggly and warm during the winter months!