Rice bags (aka Magic Bags) have kept me warm for years ever since my Mom started making them about 2 decades ago, and with this chilly weather there is no better time to whip out that sewing machine to make these Lavender Sweetheart Magic Bags!
I have to confess: I’m not a “sewist”. Like, at all. I once sewed a pillow that took me hours only to find out that the fabric I used was poor quality and left red stains all over my bed. Ugh. Off I marched to Homesense for a new pillow and promptly returned my sewing machine to my mom. I suppose I got over it because here I am, doing a sewing tutorial!
But truly, this Sweetheart Magic Bags project is SO easy. It’s even easier if you don’t care about the heart shape on the front, though the heart is pretty darned cute and makes them a bit special. Pop them in the microwave for 1-2 minutes and you have an INSTANT heat bag that smells so amazing! Wouldn’t these make the cutest Valentine’s gifts?
Of course, living in Canada we are constantly looking for ways to warm up without cranking up the heat to help conserve energy. These Sweetheart Magic Bags are amazing! I take one to bed with me every night. Move over Charles haha! You can also put them in the freezer if you need the opposite effect.
My sweet mom came over to show me how to sew them and she and Charlie went to town making them – they created the cutest assembly line! She showed me all of her little tricks, it sure is nice having her live a stone’s throw away from our house. We are all so lucky to have my parents nearby.
What Rice to Use in Homemade Rice Bags
One of my mom’s tips included the best type of rice to use, which is Jasmine rice (it’s scented and is our favourite) but really any WHITE rice will do. It’s the only time you’ll see me flat out recommending white rice over brown! Why white? Brown rice has bran and germ intact, which are prone to going rancid quicker. And nobody wants a rice bag that smells like rancid rice, I promise you!
Now, you can add the lavender or leave it out, it adds a lovely scent but the rice bag doesn’t actually need it if you don’t have access to lavender or simply don’t like the smell. But really, who doesn’t love the smell of lavender? Actually, lavender (commonly found as an essential oil) may in fact improve sleep quality and temporarily alleviate anxiety. For those who are wondering, I bought my lavender at Nature’s Fare Markets, a health food store here in the Okanagan and on the coast.
What Fabric to Use for Homemade Rice Bags
I hit up our local fabric store to source these fabrics and the other supplies, but you can use any 100% cotton fabric you have on hand. I need to emphasize that it HAS to be 100% cotton as synthetic materials may melt in the microwave and may catch fire. So clearly this is important!
Ok, enough of my rambling, here’s how to make them!
Sweetheart Lavender Magic Bags
For each Rice Bag you will need the following:
- sewing machine
- stick pins
- good quality scissors
- scale or measuring cups
- 100% cotton fabric (you need two 10×12″ pieces per bag) plus any fabric you need for the heart shape, if using
- cotton thread (to match your fabric)
- heart shaped cookie cutter or a heart template
- white rice (2lb 10oz or 5 cups per bag)
- dried lavender (1/3 cup per bag)
Homemade Magic Rice Bag Instructions
Step 1: Cut out your fabric into 10×12″ rectangles. If you have a large piece of fabric I suggest cutting out a 10×24″ piece of fabric and folding it in half cross wise, leaving the folded seam intact (one less seam to sew!).
Step 2: If appliquéing a heart, trace a heart using a stencil or a cookie cutter and a pencil. Cut out the heart and pin it to the middle of one piece of the fabric (you may need to fold the piece in half cross ways to see where the heart will need to be placed if you kept the seam intact). Using the desired embroidery stitch, sew the heart on to the piece of fabric.
Step 3: Line up the two rectangles to match each other with the print sides touching each other (the back side of each of the pieces of fabric will be facing outward). Sew up the two longer ends of the bag along the sides (I sewed mine with a 1/4″ seam), leaving one side open (you will need to sew one of the shorter sides as well if you don’t have a fold in your fabric as per Step 1).
Step 4: Turn the bag right-side-out (so that the pattern is facing outwards) and fill the bag with the rice and lavender.
Step 5: Holding the bag with the open side up, fold 1/2″ of the seam of the open end of the bag inwards (so that no cut edges of the fabric are showing), line up the folded seams together and pin them together using the stick pins.
Step 6: Carefully sew the pinned edges together with the sewing machine, leaving 1/4″ of a seam from the edge (you want to sew this end together with as small of a seam as possible, it just looks better this way). Be careful to ensure that your seams remain lined up and that no rice comes out or gets in the seam where you are sewing. To make this easier have someone hold the rice end of the bag up a little bit or prop it up with a couple of books.
There you have it, handmade, heart-warming Sweetheart Lavender Magic Bags! If you’re looking for more Valentine’s inspiration, be sure to check out our 14 Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas.
Have fun with this one and Happy Valentine’s Day!!