Sewing tutorial

DIY Hand Warmers Tutorial

Depending upon where you the live, the end of October may be cold enough for snow. A re-occurring theme in my childhood is wearing my Halloween costume over my snowsuit. Once it starts to get chilly a little extra warmth is appreciated. I was inspired to create a diy hand warmer tutorial after reading Little House Living’s  tutorial. I’ve also been looking for ways to use up the remaining craft rice leftover from making 2 sets of pattern weights, and a palm rest and mouse rest set. Two birds with one stone. This project is also a great way to use up fabric scraps.

This Sewn By Tanya project is for personal use only.

Materials For 1 Pair of Hand Warmers:
  • Exterior fabric: 16” by 16” square of 100% cotton flannel
  • Interior fabric: 16” by 16” square of 100% cotton quilting weight cotton
  • Thread: 100% cotton thread

*Do not use synthetic materials or threads, cottons with metallic threads or cotton/polyester blends if you plan to warm your hand warmers in the microwave. Metallic threads and synthetic materials may melt and/or burn in the microwave.

  • fabric marking pens/chalks
  • scissors or rotary cutter
  • ruler
  • iron & ironing board
  • sewing machine
  • hand needle

Seam allowance: 1/2” (1.2 cm) and 1/4” (0.6 cm)

Step 1 Cut materials

Cut 4, 4” by 4” squares from your interior fabric and 4, 4” by 4” squares from your exterior fabric.

4 squares of overlapping fabric for handwarmers
Pieces for 1 hand warmer
Step 2 Sew Interior

Pin two interior squares right sides together (RST).

2 squares of cream fabric for hand warmers on a green background
Pin interior pieces together

Sew with a 1/2” seam allowance, leaving a 1.5” turning gap along one edge. Repeat with the other pair of interior squares.

Closeup of cream fabric and sewing gauge showing 1/2" seam allowance for hand warmer interiors
Sew interiors with 1/2″ seam allowance

Clip the corners and turn.

2 cream fabric squares (hand warmer interiors) on a green background
Turned interiors
Step 3 Sew Exterior

Fold one edge of each square over by 1/4”. Pin and press in place then sew with a 1/8” seam allowance.

Closeup of blue floral fabric and sewing gauge showing 1/4" fold for hand warmer exteriors
Fold 1 edge of each exterior panel

Pin two exterior squares right sides together (RST) with the folded edges aligned.

2 squares of blue floral fabric wrong sides up for hand warmer exteriors
Pin exteriors together with folded edges matching

Sew around the other three edges with a 1/4” seam allowance.

Closeup of blue floral fabric and seam gauge showing 1/4" seam allowance for hand warmer exteriors
1/4″ seam allowance for exteriors

Repeat with the other pair of exterior squares.

Clip the corners and turn.

In this photo we can see that the interiors are slightly smaller than the exteriors.

Cream fabric square on top of a slightly largter blue floral square
Comparing sizes of interior and exterior
Step 4 Fill & Close

Use a funnel to fill the interiors ~75% full with rice. I used ~ 4 tablespoons of rice in each of my hand warmers. For other filling ideas, check out this post hot pack fillings.

left hand holding a green funnel in a cream hand warmer interior
Filling interior

Sew the gap closed. I used a hand needle and thread and sewed the turning gaps closed using the ladder stitch. Another option is to sew ~1/16” from the edge with a sewing machine.

cream hand warmer interior after filling
Completed interior
Step 5 Assemble

Slide the interiors into the exteriors.

blue floral hand warmer exterior after filling
Completed hand warmer

The flannel feels soft and warm and is easily removed for washing. There is just enough friction between the two layers of fabric to stop the layers separating in use.

If you do find the flannel exterior shifting too much for you, a few hand stitches across the opening will keep them closed.

Step 6 Use

You can warm these hand warmers in various ways. One option is to microwave them on high for ~15 seconds. Another option is to place them in a thin pie plate or baking pan and place that on top of a toaster oven that is in use (on the toaster over, not inside the toaster oven). Similarly place them on your range top when the oven is in use. A fourth option may be to place them on or above your radiator.

These hand warmers stay warm from 15 to 20 minutes, but your millage will vary according to how you warmed them, what they are filled with, and the temperature where they are being used.

Here’s another photo of my finished Hand Warmers:

2 blue floral, square hand warmers on a green background
Two completed hand warmers

Reusable hand warmers don’t generate as much waste as single-use ones. Re-usable chemical warmers I’ve used in the past became hard as they generated heat. I found they were uncomfortable to hold due to their shape and hardness. Occasionally they generated too much heat to the point of being uncomfortable. They also needed to be immersed in boiling water to reverse the chemical reaction.

These DIY hand warmers are larger than single-use chemical warmers and some reusable chemical warmers. This means they don’t fit in as many sizes of gloves or mittens. You may find they work better when placed in the pocket you put your hands in. DIY hand warmers conform to your hands (or which ever place you put them) and the flannel covers are always soft against skin. Microwaving them or placing them on or above a warm surface is less energy intensive then boiling. Using different fill materials affects how hot they become and how long they stay warm.

This project is a great way to use up fabric scraps and makes a great gift.


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Sewn By Tanya Sewing Tutorial – DIY Hand Warmers

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