DIY Shoulder Rice Pack
Last week I wrote about making basic aromatherapy rice packs. These packs are essential winter (as well as year round) survival tools in our house.
And while it’s starting to turn spring most places around here, all the spring cleaning can still leave you with plenty of aches and pains.
Not to mention that when that fickle spring weather turns back to winter in a flash, it somehow seems colder and more miserable!
So this week I thought I’d add to last weeks post by sharing a specific rice pack designed to heat and sooth those sore shoulders that I know we all get.
-These are AMAZING after a day of working at a computer, sewing machine, desk, or otherwise-
The same basic construction from the first tutorial is also used here, there’s just a bit more detail as far as the seaming, dividing, and filling go.
All the sewing is still simple enough for any beginner though, making these a great learning tutorial.
The shape for this starts out as a large rectangle, with a smaller rectangle removed for the neck.
*Tip - this smaller rectangle can also be sewn into a smaller warmer perfect for feet or hands*
Fabric - I used two rectangles to start, both measuring 17.25” x 20.75”
Rice or other filling - I prefer long grain rice for my packs (don’t use instant as it will cook over time through heating). I have also used whole flax seed for eye pillows that I don’t heat, and the smaller filling fits over my eyes beautifully.
Funnel - I simply made one out of a sheet of paper and some tape!
Essential oils if desired - Try a soothing oil like Lavender or Eucalyptus or try your favorite blend!
Sewing Machine and basic supplies - You could also hand sew this if you choose, it is all straight seems! Otherwise you’ll need things like your machine, needle, thread, cutting tools, measure, cutting mat, iron, etc.
If you have the time for some prep work, I would recommend it!
Fill a ziplock with your rice or other filling and add as much essential oils as you’d like. Keep in mind that the scent will dissipate over time, but also be somewhat revived with heating. Seal in the ziplock bag for a minimum of 24 hours and up to as long as you have!
Also, wash your fabrics before use if they are new to you. Once washed and dried, iron well for easy measuring, cutting, and sewing. This is especially important as these fabrics will come in contact with your skin, and will only be spot washable (minimally) once constructed.
Once your materials are prepped, cut out two pieces of fabric to start. I used 17.25” x 20.75”. I could have increased my longer measurement to allow more coverage down my back, but these measurements should provide good coverage for your upper shoulders.
I then cut a smaller rectangle out of one of the shorter edges (from BOTH pieces of fabric). This is for the neck and creates smaller “arms” that wrap forward over your shoulders. I took out about 7” of width for the neck, and then evenly divided the remainder for the two “arms” - leaving about 5” on each side. I cut this rectangle about 9.5” deep - into the fabric. I labeled all these measurements so you can see what I mean. Basically you need to remove a rectangle that’s centered along the edge. As I said before, you can set this rectangle aside to make a smaller warmer!
Now with right sides together and both pieces lined up, we need to start seaming together. Using about a 1/4” seam allowance, start on the “top” edge of one arm, run down, across, and back up the other side of the neck cut out, and along the “top” of the second arm. Then run along the “bottom” edge of the whole pack. Both long sides should still be open.
Using sharp scissors and avoiding your new seam, cut the seam allowance at the inner right angles of the neck opening to allow for a flat corner once turned.
Turn the piece right sides out and iron well. I also take this time to iron down the open seams to make for easier closing later. I try to fold down about 1/4” along each edge and iron well. Measurements don’t have to be perfect!
Now we can start dividing sections and filling.
I always recommend dividing bigger areas on packs with simple seams to help hold the rice or filling in place. Otherwise all your filling will fall to one edge and it’ll be harder to keep the weight and heat even. We need to divide and fill this pack in two sections to make for the least amount of seaming.
We are going to start with one “arm”. I divided mine into three sections about 3” each.
Sew a straight seam for each division, being sure to back stitch on both ends. These divisions don’t have to go completely to the edge, just close enough to hold the majority of the rice in place. Make sure your ironed seam edges are folded correctly if you are going to sew over them.
Once these divisions are sewn, use your funnel to fill each section. I filled them about 1/2 - 2/3 full, depending on how pliable you’d like them to be.
Once all your sections are full, use a few pins to hold the rice in place and close the sections. I pin as closely down over the rice as I can, leaving a decent flat section to allow room for my sewing foot.
Continue to pin the fabric together along this entire long seam, even across the “back” section that hasn’t been filled yet.
Sew this seam closed all the way down, sewing as closely to the edge as you can while still catching both sides of fabric. Be sure to back stitch on both ends to hold your stitches in place.
Now divide the second arm as well as the “back” section with more horizontal seams, dividing evenly. Be sure to back stitch all ends and catch the ironed edge correctly.
Stand up the pack on it’s freshly seamed edge and fill with rice or filling. I filled the arm first, then pinned it in place as with the previous side and moved onto the larger section. I then pinned this into place too. I found it easiest to fill the larger sections with the bottom of them resting in my lap, and the open “arm” section on the table in front of me. Once everything is filled and pinned to your liking, sew up the last open seam.
Now all you need to do is warm your pack for some great soothing heat. Or put in the fridge or freezer for some cool relief!
Have you ever made/used a rice pack before? If so, what’s your preferred filler? And if you like them scented, what’s your favorite relaxing scent?
Let me know in the comments below! Or, tag me in an Instagram post with @Peoniesandcream or #Peoniesandcream.
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