12 Days of Gift Giving: Day 5


We are nearly half way through my list of 12 handmade items and it’s only going to get better! Today’s gift is a little more labor intensive but completely worth it.  If you have some spare fabric (an old pillow case, dish towels, etc.), a jar of rice and some basic sewing skills you can make this item in around an hour or so. With that being said, day 5’s gift is a handmade heating pillow!  These things are great!  I am the type of person who is always cold, especially when the temperature outside dips below freezing.  I am an avid heating pad user, either for aches and pains or just because I’m chilly.  However, I do not like to fall asleep using electric heating devices so I throw this baby into the microwave instead.  In just a minute or so I have a toasty pillow to snuggle with while I fall asleep!


  • Two pieces of coordinating fabric – I like to use a piece of 100% cotton and a piece of flannel. Just make sure you use a natural fiber that does not contain any metal. As far as size goes you can really make them however big or small you want, for this project I cut my fabric 9” x 20”.
  • Fabric scissors or a rotary cutter
  • Matching thread
  • 6 cups of rice
  • 1 cup dried herbs: lavender, mint, rosemary, rose petals, marjoram or cloves (optional), you could also use a drop or two of your favorite essential oil.
  • Sewing machine or needle and thread
  • Iron
  • Washable pencil or marker
  • Ruler
  • A piece of paper to use as a funnel when filling the pillow


Iron out any wrinkles or creases in your fabric, this will help to ensure accurate measuring and cutting. Cut out two 9” x 20” squares (or your chosen size) with a rotary cutter or fabric scissors.


Stack your fabric pieces together with the right sides facing (so your fabric is inside-out) and pin around the edges leaving a 3” opening on one of the short sides. Sew around the outside of the fabric leaving a ½” seam – either by hand or with a machine.


Back stitch where you start and stop to lock your seams


Also be sure to pivot your corners: with the needle down lift the pressure foot and turn your work


Trim your seams and corners being careful not to cut through your stitches



Flip your pillow right side out, push out the corners and press the seams with an iron. Where your opening is you will want to make sure your raw edges are folded in; press them flat


At this point, if you haven’t already, you can mix your rice with any herbs or oil; stir it well.  Now it’s time to fill your pillow and there are two ways to do that, one is easy and one is a little more complicated.  For the first option you just pour your rice mixture into the pillow, sew up the opening using a blind stitch or a top stitch and you’re done.

But if you really want to impress, the second option would be to quilt the pillow – this will guarantee uniform distribution of your rice mix.  I know that probably sounds a little intimidating but quilting really just means you are sewing layers of fabric together.  If you want to quilt your pillow continue on…..

With your washable pencil or marker and a ruler divide your pillow into equal parts. For this one I drew a line every 4.75”, giving me four compartments.


Fill your pillow with 1 2/3 cup of your rice mixture


Now you will need to baste the pillow – this will guarantee that the rice won’t get in your way when you are trying to sew. If you are using a machine and you hit a grain with your needle there is a good chance you will break it (trust me).  To baste, use a needle and thread to sew big stitches across your pillow as close to the rice as possible (it helps to hold the pillow relatively upright for this part).


Then just machine or hand stitch along your line, do not back stitch, just sew right over the edge.  Tie off your ends and weave them into the pillow.  Cut our your basting stitches and repeat until you get to the last section.


When you get to the last section you can blind stitch the opening closed or top stitch as close to the edge as possible like I did, I’m not the best at hand stitching and I wanted to make sure it was good and secure.


There you have it!  You just made an amazing gift for that lucky person on your list! Be sure to include some instructions on how to use the pillow.  It is important to heat the pillow only in the microwave – do not use a conventional oven! Heat the pillow in one-minute increments to avoid scorching the rice.  Stay near the microwave when heating the pillow in case it begins to smoke or in rare cases ignites.  To avoid this you can mist the pillow with water before heating.  Always shake the pillow to distribute the heat evenly and leave it to cool if necessary – especially if you plan to use it on children – you can sustain burns if the pillow is too hot.


Make this item gift worthy by wrapping it with some leftover fabric and putting it in a pretty paper bag!  This item is incredibly versatile and can be made to any size you want/need.  Make it longer, wider, shorter, or make two teeny-tiny pillows to use as hand warmers on a cold day.  This pillow is great for menstrual cramps, sore muscles, or just for winding down! Gather your supplies and get stitching!



**Be sure to check out days onetwothree, and four for other great gift ideas**


8 thoughts on “12 Days of Gift Giving: Day 5

  1. Pingback: 12 Days of Gift Giving: Day 6 | gray duck

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  5. Pingback: 12 Days of Gift Giving: Day 10 | gray duck

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  7. Pingback: 12 Days of Gift Giving: Day 12 | gray duck

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