12 Days of Handmade- DIY Flannel Heating Packs & Hand Warmers

Hey there! Welcome to day six of my 12 Days of Handmade Gifts! Today I am going to show you how to make heating pads and hand warmers with flannel, feed corn and rice. I have to admit, when I first tried this craft last year, I thought it wouldn’t be much of anything to holler about, but man was I wrong! I LOVE these heating pads! The hand warmers are really nice too! And they are both really easy to make. All you need is 100% cotton fabric and filler.


First you want to cut your fabric to the size you wish. I made mine around 9×18, but you can make it how large or small you like. Cut a front and back for each hot pack. Now, stitch around your fabric right sides together and leaving room for turning and filling. Turn your sack right side out. Now insert a funnel into the opening in your sack. You can use rice, corn, or wheat to fill your hot packs. I have used rice and feed corn, and I think corn keeps the heat longer. You can buy it at your local farm supply store. Pour cups of filler into your funnel until it’s about 1/3 to 1/2 full. Stitch a straight seam across the middle of your bag if you like at this point. You can add more seams for partitions so that the corn stays in place better, or you can fill the bag without stitching pockets down and mold the bag more fluidly. I like to put one in the middle so that the corn doesn’t all settle in one spot, but is still really malleable for me to scrunch up. Fill the bag with more corn until it is 2/3rds or so full. Then finish off your bag by stitching the end with the opening closed with a topstitch close to the edge of your fabric. And that’s it. Easy right! To heat up your pack heat in the microwave for a minute at a time until it’s where I like it. To make handwarmers, just make the sacks smaller. I make my handwarmers around 3×4 inches and you just stitch, turn right side out, fill and close up just like the large bags.

I can’t even begin to express how fantastic these are! I use the one’s I have all the time. I never use my heating pad any more. I just pop one of these packs in the microwave and I’m good to go. I have tmj and these are so nice on my jaw when it’s really tight. They are fantastic for muscle aches, and icy cold toes at night. You can also put them in the freezer for cold packs as well. For an extra treat add a few drops of essential oils to make your pack smell divine! I hope I have inspired some of you to try some of these easy little handmade gifts! Be sure to tune in tomorrow for another fun holiday handmade gift project!

Happy Crafting!

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65 Responses

  1. Debra Neiman

    I definitely will make these, I also keep one in the freezer to use.

    • Haha, me too! People think, eh, they aren’t that great, there’s no way they can really get that warm. I LOVE mine! I use the heating packs for my cold feet in bed, and for aches and pains. And then I keep the small ones in the freezer to use as a non messy ice pack for boo-boos :) Glad to see other people use them too :)



    • Sandra Jones

      I made six of the heating pads yesterday and filled them with feed corn. The corn is much cheaper than rice. The corn was dusty and soiled the fabric somewhat. And when I heated one of them there was a lot of moisture on it, almost wet. Is this normal? Will the moisture finally go away after being heated multiple times? Now I’m concerned about giving them for gifts.

      • Hi Sandra! I haven’t had any problems with the corn soiling my fabric, but it is moist. The moisture is always there. I notice my fleece pack gets a lot moister than the flannel one. The rice gets moist too. I personally like the moisture with the heat, but I do think it would bother some people. My sister and I swear by these, but I think we are the only ones in the family who use them. You can put them in the freezer too, which is great too, and they don’t get moist in the cold. Hope this helps :)

        • Sandra Jones

          I did make mine with fleece. Evidently that was why they were more moist than the ones I have made in the past with rice. And the fleece was an animal print with black and white stripes. The dust from the corn probably showed up more on the white parts. I read somewhere to heat them a few times on paper towels to eliminate some of the moisture so that is what I did and now they seem fine. I’m going to make matching handwarmers to give with them.thanks for the idea of the handwarmers. And thanks for the reply.

        • Beth McC

          With feed corn stuffing, I never microwave my flannel packs more than 3 minutes. You don’t want burnt corn in one of these :) You can also ask for dried corn (sold to feed ducks, etc in the city here), which does not seem to create much moisture at all.

          I want to make some of these hand-warmer-size with rice for my grandchildren. Thanks for the great instructions!

      • Priscilla

        Hi Sandra, Just wanted to comment on your filling mixture. I used feed corn to fill my heating bags larger size (for the neck etc) The fabric I used was heavy weight cotton in dark, navy, black , brown colors with printing to break up the solid colors. I purchased it at a feed store that has so much they never sell it all. So I ask for the oldest. It does give off a mild corn odor but it does dissipate over time. I like it better than the rice too. Somehow it feels better. Don’t know why however. Good luck with your sewing. My friends really liked them. My brother didn’t care for the corn odor. But keep in mind he is a stinker! Love him in spite of his faults. Ha. Ha.

  2. Fran Gurka

    Great stuff. Cannot wait to see what you come up with next.

  3. this is a very neat idea thanks for sharing it is getting that time of year and these would work out great thanks again :)

  4. These are really a neat stocking stuffer idea. I can just imagine after the kids have been out in the snow playing and sledding and then coming in to a surprise to get their hands all warmed up!

  5. “Now, stitch around your fabric wrong sides together and leaving room for turning and filling.” Did you mean right sides together?

  6. Linda L.

    FYI – the instructions still say “wrong sides” together. I know this because my daughter carefully followed the instructions!! Now she’s learned how to use a seam ripper.

    • Oh no, I’m sorry Linda :( Thought I had fixed it before. I hate having to use a seam ripper. It is fixed now and I double checked it this time. Thanks for letting me know :)

      • Linda L.

        Not a problem – she had to find out about seam rippers sometime ;-D
        The funny part is this is probably the first time she’s actually followed the instructions for any sewing project!!!

  7. Just a hint on the hand warmer. I have arthritus in my fingers and am planning on sewing a strip of elastic to the top and bottom to keep the hand warmer snug on my hand and still be able to knit, sew or whatever.

  8. Hi, I tried making little hand warmers based off another tutorial but the same idea with rice or corn. I heated them and after just 5 or 10 minutes the corn was cold again, and the rice lasted a little longer but after 10 minutes they didn’t nearly have the heat to keep frozen hands warm. Am I missing some trick? I read that rice was suppose to last 20+ min. And corn twice as long! I kept reading that these were the best thing ever and I just feel let down after a wasted trip to the feed store :(

    • Hi Karly! To answer your question, yes, and no. I have found that the handwarmers don’t retain their heat for very long. I never really had much luck with the ones you get in the store either though. Try popping them in the microwave a little longer. I pop mine in the freezer and use them for minor boo boos. I will say the larger ones are fantastic! I keep one in the freezer, and one for heating. I use mine all the time. I put mine in the microwave for around 3 minutes. In the winter I heat one up at bedtime and put it down at my feet cause they are always freezing. They are also good for cramps and backaches. I had a really bad case of TMJ last year, and my bag helped me so so much because I could mold the bag around where I needed it. Give a larger sac a try, and you may find you really like it :)

  9. These are wonderful. Do you have a source for feed corn that has not been treated with chemicals? I’m thinking I don’t want chemicals heating up in my microwave. Suggestions?

    • Linda, I would check your local feed store. I got mine from Tractor Supply, but I am not sure if it was chemically treated. A lot of smaller feed stores offer organic feed and supplies :)

  10. I have a corn filled footwarmer that I have had for several years and use it all the time. I love it! I made a flannel cover for it so I can wash it. I am making hand warmers for the grandkids so they can warm them up and put them in their pockets when they go out in the cold. I have used flax seed in these as well. It may be a good alternative if you do not fill too much, because the seeds are small they may wrap around an arthritic hand better. The corn really keeps the heat in the best! Love these

  11. Kathleen Cockrum

    I have made the microwave heating pads for several years now and have tried different methods. I have decided that I like the muslin an score it into sections so the rice won’t go all to one end and then fill with rice and make a fleece outer cover in design patterns. The fleece is soft against the skin and by having an inside bag made up it can be removed and washed. I have made them for friends in different sizes and tried my hand on making a hand mitt. Wish I had thought just to make two small bags to hold. Slowly learning. Hope these hints that I do are helpful. Have enjoyed your patterns.
    Do have a Merry Christmas and Safe and New Year and Holiday season.

  12. Candace A.

    Our microwave is broken, would it be ok to put these in the oven for a little while at like 200 degrees?

    • Candace, I wish I knew, but I am not positive. I know you can put some fabrics in the microwave at low temps, but I know certain synthetic fabrics can melt.

  13. This may be a silly question but why doesn’t the corn pop when you put it in the microwave
    I have made these from wheat and I love them but corn sounds like it could be a problem

    • Judy, this cracked me up, cause it sounds like something I would ask! I would love to give you a proper answer, but I am afraid I have no idea why it doesn’t pop. It is feed corn, which is different kind of processed corn. I use the corn in mine, and I can at least promise you that they do just fine in the microwave. If you microwave them too long, they will burn and stink a little. :)

    • Judy,

      Popcorn is a different variety than feed corn or even the corn you buy from the produce section at your local grocery. Just like some peppers are hot, while others are sweet.

  14. Karen H Barnes

    Hi. Not sure if this will help Karly to get the heat packs to stay warm longer but I always put a mug half filled with water into the microwave with the pack and heat the pack in bursts of about 30-40 seconds on high, taking it out and shuffling the filling around and popping back into the microwave for another burst. I do this as many times as needed, until I feel the pack is warmed right through. Be careful, though, as you can burn the filling which ruins the whole pack as the smell is awful. I use wheat and lavender in mine so I am not sure about corn or rice? Hope this helps…… Thanks Ashlee for a great Crafty site!

  15. Karen H Barnes

    Hi.Just made ten of the hand warmers in 2 hours! That was from cutting to sewing to filling to finishing! Great project, great little gift to have “on hand” – pun intended! :)

  16. I have been making these for years. They make very good heating bags. I was really getting down with my small gifts and so instead of the corn or the rice for which I out of, I used beans. Just any kind will work. Also, it was beginning to get cold weather, and cold air was coming under the door, so I measured the width plus 1 inch and about the size around as a roll of breakfast sausage. I filled it with rice just enough to fit snug against the door and it kept the room from being so breezy. The dogs never bothered it. I used the same idea for a noise blocker for my grandsons room.

  17. I have made the heating pads (everyone in my family got one of these last year for Christmas) but I really like these hand warmers. I wonder if it would work sewing in about a 1-1 1/2 in strap across the middle of the pads to keep it on your hands more easily….just a thought!!

    • Yeah, that’s brilliant Diana! It would be really simple to sandwich some ribbon or a self fabric strap in between the two pieces before stitching. Thanks for sharing!

  18. Hi! Just wondering if this is something I can sew by hand or if I need a sewing machine? I have been wanting to make these for AGES, I just don’t have a sewing machine.. :(

    • Hi Sara! Yes, you can stitch these by hand if you like. If you are going to stitch the heating packs by hand, I may suggest using a strong stitch like a backstitch. Hope you enjoy making these!

  19. I Love this idea and have been thinking of making matching hand or even mitten warmers, foot warmers (either as a single bag or a pouch that the feet can slip into), a bigger heat pad for back/cramps, and matching eye pad. My kids are all older and between my daughter and the boys girlfriends, Christmas gets expensive. This year we don’t have the $$$.

    I love to do themed gifts.. This year is “comfy cozy”.
    I saw this post was from awhile ago and I am wondering what you all have concluded as the BEST & SAFEST MATERIALS TO USE?
    2 – FILLERS?

    Thank You and I Love Your Blog!!

    • I’m sorry Tara, I’m behind on my comments. I have used both rice and corn. I don’t really prefer one more than the other. Both of them will become moist in the microwave. The only thing I may do differently next time I make them is to make a simple cotton sack and then make a cover that can come off and be washed in the washer. I LOVE my packs! I use them almost every day. They are fantastic for pain relief and also they are fabulous to stick in bed with you to warm your toes at night when it’s cold. My hubby doesn’t like the way the rice smells when it’s heated in the microwave, but the corn doesn’t seem to bother him. Anyone else have anything they’d like to add? Hope this helps :)

  20. I have been making these for years. I sometime use denim for he large ones as material lasts longer. Never thought to make hand warmers. Thanks for the tip…Nancy

  21. I made hand warmers. they are great to throw in the microwave just before I leave work it makes getting into the cold car a little more bearable.

  22. […] And when you absolute MUST go outside, take your flannel with you and these sweet flannel hand warmers from My So Called Crafty Life. […]

  23. Could you use the insulated material used for policyholders as a liner to hold the heat, if it is microwaves.

    • I am not sure about that. You’d have to look up the information on the materials website. If it’s what I am thinking of, then I don’t think it is microwave safe. Hope you have fun making your packs :)

  24. Don’t heat the bags in the microwave to long. You will have burnt rice or corn and the smell doesn’t go away for a long time. But they do work wonderfully!!!

  25. Why can’t we just get the pattern instead of everyone’s comments printing, also.

    • I’m not sure which pattern you are talking about. If you are trying to make a heating pack or handwarmer, you don’t need a pattern. All you need to do is cut two rectangles from your fabric to the size you want your pack to be. If you are wanting to print out the tutorial, I am not sure how to print the post without all the comments, sorry :( Let me know if you have any other questions or if there is something else I can help you with.

  26. […] Inspiration :¬†http://www.mysocalledcraftylife.com/2012/12/06/12-days-of-handmade-diy-flannel-heating-packs-hand-wa… […]

  27. Cheri JS

    Pat…Before hitting your “print” button, go to “print preview” first. Look at the pages, and only select to print the page numbers you want. This is what I always do to save paper. Sometimes I even print it at a smaller percentage to save even more… as long as I can still read it! :) Hope this helps you! :)

  28. karen brightwell

    I use mine all the time have spinal stenosis. Going to make some with flannel sheet material. What I am using right now is my son cotton crew sock filled with field corn. 3 minutes in the micro….hahaha I did 4 minutes and burned the other sock ewww. But I put it at my back so I can eventually function also use at my feet at night…love them so much bought a 40 pound bad of field corn from Walmart for $6!

  29. I have been making these for years and have used just rice. I would like to try feed corn sometime however. I have about 4 different sizes. My favorite is about 7″ x 29″ with 9 pockets that I can easily wrap around my neck and over my shoulders. Perfect for that pain since my MVA

  30. Is the 3 x 4 inches the finished size or the size of the fabric before sewing?