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Saturday, February 18, 2012

Patchwork Rice Bag Tutorial

I freakin’ love rice bags! They are wonderful for all aches and pains. Just pop them in the microwave or freezer and you have a mold-able hot or cold pack that can’t leak harmful chemicals on to your skin or poison your dog. They really are the bomb-dot-diggity. I was totally addicted to mine in college and my only regret for not having a microwave now is that I can’t warm up my rice bag.

I love rive bags so much, that when a friend was complaining of a bad back, I offered to make her one. They don’t take very long to make and can be super cute! I took the time to make this one patch-worked and put an initial patch on it for a little personal touch. But if you don’t want to spend that much time on it, just skip the patch working steps and cut a piece of cotton 29”x10”. You can also skip the batting if you use a strong enough fabric, like canvas, denim (using an old pair of jeans would be so cute!), or something.

One quick note about fabric choosing. You want to use a cotton or another natural fabric or a fleece. You DO NOT want to use something that will melt or be compromised by heat. Also, its a good idea to choose something that won’t stain easily, especially if you are going to be using your bag with kids. Quilting cotton is a really good option.
  • Thin cotton batting, about ½ a yard
  • 4 different and complimenting cotton fabrics, fat quarters are perfect
  • machine thread that works with all 4 of the different fabrics
  • giant bag of cheap rice (about 9ish cups), see note at end of post you can also use deer/feed corn (check out a feed store like Southern States), or pretty much any grain. I even had a friend who made one with cherry pits, we had to eat a lot of cherries to get enough pits.Rice is just good because its cheap and easy to find in the grocery store.
  • Pins, scissors, sewing machine, iron, tailors chalk, tape measure (you know, the regular sewing stuff)
  • Dried lavender, chamomile, or other nice smelling herb (about 9 tablespoons), optional.
  • Optional Initial Patch
    • 4”x4” square of cotton fabric
    • Embroidery floss
Cut the cotton batting into a 29”x10” rectangle.

Cut the complimenting cottons into strips of 1 ½”, 2” and 3”. The easiest way to do this is with a rotary cutter. Fold your fat quarters in half, making sure to line up all the edges. Then stack one on top of the other, again making sure to line up all the edges. Check out this tutorial from Purl Bee for more info on cutting with a rotary cutter.
Once you have cut all the strips you will need, around 13-20 total, mix them up in a pile or a small bag. This way you will get a random pattern. Stitch your strips together, using a ¼” seam allowance.

Once you have all of the strips sewn together press all the seams to one side. This is now going to be referred to as the “patchwork fabric.”
Cut the patchwork fabric in half. You should cut across all of the stripes and not just one.

Stitch both pieces of patchwork fabric together, so that you have a very long strip. Press the seam the same way as all the other seams.
Pin the batting to the wrong side of the patchwork.
Measure 2 ½” sections on the batting and mark lines with chalk or a Rub-A-Dub marker.
Stitch along these lines.


After cutting a 4”x4” square of fabric, mark ½” all the way around the square. Mark your letter with chalk or some other wash away fabric marking tool. Then stitch the letter using a chain stitch (see this video).

On the wrong side of the patch, press down ½” all the way around.
Pin the patch to one layer of the patchwork fabric and stitch all the way around about ⅛” from the edge of the patch. Make sure to back-stitch at the beginning and end of your stitching.
*Note* This doesn’t have to be an initial, it could be a cute design like a flower.

Trim around the edge of the cotton batting, cutting off the extra patchwork fabric. Fold the fabric/batting piece in half. Pin all the way around leaving a hole, about 5” on the short end, for turning.

Stitch all the way around, except for the turning hole.
Trim corners and seams to about ¼”, except at the turning hole.
Turn the bag through the turning hole. Pop out the corners with turning tool, or pencil. Press.

Fill the bag with about 9 cups of plain, cheap rice. This 9 cup number is really just an estimate. That's about how much I used, but you could use more or less depending on how full you want your bag. Keep in mind, the more rice you have the longer it will take to heat in the microwave. 9 cups is really a good amount.

If you are using herbs, the is the time to put them in too. The ratio is about one tablespoon of herbs for every cup of rice.
I made a funnel with a piece of paper and masking tape to make filling easier. I highly recommend doing this, otherwise you will likely have rice everywhere.
Now turn the seams to the inside of your bag and hand stitch it closed.

And you are done!
*NOTE* about using rice
  • Don’t feel like you have to use rice. There are many options for fillings. You can also use deer/feed corn (check out a feed store like Southern States), flax seed, or pretty much any grain. Rice is just good because its cheap and easy to find in the grocery store.
  • I even had a friend who made one with cherry pits, we had to eat a lot of cherries to get enough pits.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Notebook Doodle Treasures Bag Tutorial

Its really not very hard to make, and if I didn't have a baby who likes to be held 24/7 I could have made it in an hour or so. Anyway, here is the tutorial, enjoy!

  • Red, what and light blue thread
  • White muslin
  • Green quilting cotton (or other quilting fabric for lining)
  • 3/8" grosgrain ribbon (there is a typo in the photograph... oops:)
  • Brown felt
  • Dark green felt
  • Medium green felt
  • Lime green felt
  • Fabric glue
  • Masking tape
  • Fray Check or clear nail polish
  • Pins, scissors, sewing machine, iron, tape measure (you know, the regular sewing stuff)

Cut out one piece of muslin at, 7"x15" and one piece of lining fabric, at 61/2”x15”.

Fold down 1/4" on both 7" ends of the muslin fabric. Press and pin. Stitch this down with white thread.

Attach two strips of 1” wide masking to each end of the muslin, lining the fist one up flush with the edge of the fold you just created, and the second piece flush with the first piece.

Using light blue thread, line up the edge of your foot with the edge of the masking tape and stitch a line all the way across the muslin. Do this again, lining the edge of your foot with the line of stitches you just created. Continue this until the whole piece of muslin is full of blue lines. Trim the threads. Press.

(My machine totally messed up the back of my fabric, creating tons of bobbin art. Usually this would really frustrate me, but since this stitching is for decoration only and there is a lining to cover it up, it didn't let bother me... this time.)

Line the long edge of the muslin with a piece of masking tape ½” from the edge. With red thread, stitch a line down the the fabric lining the edge of your foot up with the edge of the masking tape. You now have “notebook paper.”

Cut out different sized circles (they are cuter if they are a little lopsided and funky) out of the three different shades of green felt, and a tree trunk out of the brown felt. None of these shapes need to be perfect, they are supposed to mimic a child’s doodle.

Fold your notebook paper fabric in half, this will help you with the placement of your tree. Glue your tree in place.

With right sides together, pin the lining and the notebook paper together, the lining should lay right inside the folded down edges of the notebook paper fabric piece. Stitch all the way around, using the edge of foot edge of fabric measurement.

Now fold the fabric sandwich in half with the lining on the outside. Pin one side. On the other side, measure down ¾” from the top edge. Then use a piece of tailors chalk to mark a ¾” section, you will not sew this section closed. Pin this side as well, but make sure to mark the ¾” section that you won’t be sewing.

Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch up the sides of the bag with white thread, leaving the ¾” opening on one side. Press open the seam on the side with the opening. Stitch the seam allowance down around the opening, this is where your drawstring will be.

Fold down the top edge of the bag so that ¾” of the white muslin is folded over the lining. Press and pin. Stitch along the bottom edge of the white (edge of foot, edge of fabric), creating a casing.

Trim the corners of the bag and turn it right sides out.

Cut a piece of ribbon that is 24” long. If your ribbon is mostly synthetic, burn the ends, if it is mostly natural fibers then put some Fray Check or clear nail polish on the ends to keep them from coming apart. Attach a safety pin to one end of the ribbon and feed it through the ¾” hole you created.

Put some Fray Check/clear nail polish on the seams and you’re ready to fill your bag with treasures!

You don’t have to use a tree, it could be a rainbow, or a flower, a name, or an ice cream cone. Its up to you!

I filled my sister’s bag with heart shaped crayons I made by using this tutorial. I can’t wait to send it to her, I just know she will love it.

Enjoy your bag! Please let me know if you make one, I would love to hear/see how yours turned out!