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
- 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.
Step 2 Sew Interior
Pin two interior squares right sides together (RST).
Sew with a 1/2” seam allowance, leaving a 1.5” turning gap along one edge. Repeat with the other pair of interior squares.
Clip the corners and turn.
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.
Pin two exterior squares right sides together (RST) with the folded edges aligned.
Sew around the other three edges with a 1/4” seam allowance.
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.
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.
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.
Step 5 Assemble
Slide the interiors into the exteriors.
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:
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.