Thursday, January 1, 2009

Want a Head Start on Next Year's Christmas Gifts? A Therapeutic Rice Bag Tutorial!

Ahhh.....I need you. I am so glad I have you, and that you're so hot! But hey, who's into looks!? You're just gonna make me feel better!

Okay, first you get your best stretch pants on and march your little self down to the local "Wal-Mart's" and head over to the domestics department and locate these woven place mats that come in several color families: blue, green, red. I got mine for $1.87 each. You know that Wal-Mart theme: low prices! Now get as many as you think you'll need and don't forget Aunt Fanny and the bus driver and the teacher and your preacher and your know, the whole dang list. Remove the sticky price tag label, and cut off the "Made in India/ fabric content tag, you know better than to break the law like that, but hey, you're making the world feel better with your rice bags, so what the heck? You'll also need lots of rice, they have twenty pound bags there. Pick up some thread, and don't worry about it being too matchy, you'll need to see where you're stitching, and for me, off-white worked for every color of place mat. And, if you haven't replaced your sewing machine needle, you may want to get a heavy duty one or a denim needle. This bag gets pretty thick.

Fold the place mat in half the long way. Smooth it out. Feel those ridges? Those are going to come in so handy! Well, and they just plain feel good so take a minute here and rub away....feels so right. It's already therapeutic! Once you've felt those wonderful ridges all you can stand, pin each end of the place mat at the upper corners only, as shown here. Go to the sewing machine and sew each end shut, reinforcing your seam at each end. Remember, it has heft.

Now, take out your handy-dandy hem gauge and place a pin at approximately every three inches. Only one pin is needed at the top. For those of you with OCD, go ahead and measure down to the fraction of an inch, and place the pins the whole way down if you must, but hey, we're not working on a piece of art here! It's only a rice bag that will perhaps be used as a foot warmer in a cold bed, so don't obsess over it, approximate intervals will be fine for your stitching lines.

See the fine grooves in your place mat? They were created by the fine workers in India somewhere JUST FOR US! They knew we would need these lines to stitch vertically on our rice bags! Okay, so start at the right and work your way to the left side of the bag and continue to stitch each of your little sections off by following with your needle that little groove all the way down, not forgetting to reinforce your stitching at both the top and the bottom. Thank You.

Okay, I needed to include this blurry photo so you would appreciate a cat's eye view--a cat with cataracts, that is!

If you start your stitching at the right side of your place mat, you can roll it up as you work your way to the left until you have stitched all your vertical lines. These little sections will hold your rice, which will hold the heat, which will then be applied to your achey-breaky parts. Hum along now...."Don't tell my parts, my achey breaky parts, I just don't think they'd understand! And if you tell my parts, my achey breaky parts...." Who sang that?

Now, here we have rice. Much rice! I believe I paid around $17 for this and got nine or ten rice bags from this twenty pounds. I still have more to make, so I will be heading back for more....sorry the picture is sideways, but I never said I was perfect!

Hold your rice bag up, and use a funnel with a fairly wide opening to pour approximately one cup of rice into each three-inch section. Do not fill all the way to the top, you'll need some room for give and some room for stitchin' this baby shut. I left about two thumb-widths empty at the top. Then, once each section (about one cup per section) is filled, stand your rice bag up in a 9 x 13 inch cake pan. If you overfill, the best way to remove excess rice is to take it out with a spoon. Try to get each section filled to the same level as the one next to it.

My daughter, Jamie, is an EXCELLENT rice-bag filler. She filled all the ones I made today. She also has nice photogenic and dainty hands, that are excellent for taking photos for this tutorial! Thanks, Jamie!

Just another blurry action shot! I think the cat with cataracts took this photo, too!

Now, take straight pins and pin halfway down the length of the top opening and flip it over and pin the other half on the back side. Why, you ask? Well, I will tell you. Because you have to start stitching it shut from the middle and go out to the edge. So, pinning all the way down one side won't work.

You can also pin this way too, just to help hold that rice in. It's tiny and it likes to sneak out at the most inopportune times! You do not want it sneaking out and going into the working parts of your sewing machine. It could cause problems in your machine. Or your daughter's sewing the case may be!

Now, sew that baby shut!!!! Go slow, she's heavy! Oops, this photo is wrong! You have to start in the middle and work your way out to the end. Then flip it and do the same on the other side.

There we go! Almost done! I don't like these hand shots, they're my hands and they're homely.

Don't forget: reinforce your stitching at the beginning and the end of the seam that you make to sew the top of the bag shut!

Now, start at the bottom of one corner of your bag, and start a continuous line of reinforcement don't want that rice getting out and making a mess! Best to reinforce our stitching. As we all know, it's best to be prepared for the worst! And that concludes our public service announcement

All done, all reinforced and such like.

Now, you may ask, "Joni, why do you put your rice bag on a plate before you warm it up?" Well, I answer, "Because you never know what yucky scum is lurking on the microwave turntable, do you?". Well, that is unless you have just cleaned said microwave. But I digress. We gotta get down to the business of putting our creation to good use!

Heat your bag from 1.5-2 minutes. Depends on your microwave wattage. Or something like that. Someone could heat it for two minutes and totally burn themselves. So be careful. Like your mama told you to. Ya Hear? Okay. So, we've measured, we've sewn, we've bagged that rice, we've reinforced and now it's time to enjoy.....

Apply that baby to your nearest and most achey body part. Or parts. Or not.

And a red one, just for variety. Winter can be dull. And that concludes my first attempt at a tutorial.
Whew! That was something. All you tutorial makers out there have my love and respect.

Please...let me know how I did, and let me know how many you make. Don't forget one for yourself!

I started today because I will need to make thirty or forty of these babies! We have large families, what can I say? And, whether they're for yourself or to give away as gifts, they are always appreciated in those achey moments when heat would feel so good on your neck, shoulder, knee, foot, eyebrows, earlobe, lips, whatever hurts, ya know?

I've made rice bags in the past and given them as gifts, but those were made of flannel and didn't have the heft and firmness that these bags have, and I, for one, appreciate heft (and firmness!) The flannel versions tended to get pretty floppy and that's nothing that Flomax could take care of, sorry to say.

These stay put and are all bendy-like and are especially helpful on those days when you got a pain in your, umm, you know, the lower part of your lower back?

My friend Shelley, smart sewing woman that she is, showed me how to make these and she gave me one for Christmas, bless her little heart, and I used it ten times in the first three days I had it. I was having a particularly achey week....Billy Cyrus (it was he who sang ACHEY BREAKY HEART) help me!

Anyway, I hope this is all clear (as mud?) for you. If you have any questions, post them in the comments section and I'll get back with you and edit my tutorial to include the information you request.

Now. Go forth. Go nuts! Buy place mats. Buy rice! Lots and lots of rice. And make rice bags. India probably needs the economic stimulus.

Approximate cost per bag: $4 (Placemat $1.87 + tax, rice approximately $2 worth per bag, about two pounds per.)

Approximate time start to finish: half an hour or less.

I always roll these up, tie with a ribbon, and attach a cute tag that says something like this:

Therapeutic Rice Bag
Keep in the freezer to use as a cold compress or...

When needed as a heating pad, heat in the microwave on a plate for one to one and a half minutes and apply to your ache or pain. Should hold heat for a half hour to forty five minutes. This bag contains rice, please do not get wet.
Made by your weird friend, Joni

And, one final note.... for all you quilters out there who know about the CHAIN sewing that makes repetitive stitching go so much faster, you can do that if you've got a pile of these to make. You'll save a lot of thread and a lot of snippin' go for it! I chained three to four at a time.

Just feed 'em through...

And pile 'em up....


Anonymous said...

Well now I need to get a sweing machine! These are great and boy would I love one for my neck this morning!

arootdigger2 said...

I was wondering how often the rice bag can be heated? it would be great around the neck or across a knee.
Glad for the post.

Old Centennial Farmhouse said...

This can be used as much as you want to! I just wouldn't heat it past two minutes in the microwave, you may scorch the rice if you were to get it too hot. I really hope you enjoy this, these rice bags get used alot around our house and everyone I have given them to are very appreciative! And yes, they feel absolutely wonderful on the neck!

Sincerely, Emily said...

Very very cool!...I mean HOT. adding this to the list of things to do. I I bought about 5+ years ago....just one big bag (no partitions)and not sure that it is rice in there. when you heat it up, it gives off a soothing light scent. I might try Jasmine Rice and see what that does. thanks thanks thanks.Emily

Unknown said...

Sounds like a plan to me. These sound really easy to make, thanks for the tutorial. But instead of boosting India, boost USA, they grow rice in Louisiana. :) I am going to make some of these for Christmas presents. God Bless