pair of heart-shaped handwarmers

Handwarmers

I reckon friends and strangers who are out and about in this cold season can use a little warmth. I dug out some vintage flannel and double gauze from my stash and made a pile of handwarmers.  They are little pillows filled with rice.  Pop them in the microwave for 20 seconds, stick them in your coat pockets, and the rice will yield up toasty warmth for your fingers for about 20 minutes.

There are plenty of tutorials out there for these little items (just Google “handwarmer tutorial”), so I’ll just share a few hints that made my process easier.

2016-12-28-handwarmers3

Soft cottons are best for these.  They feel cozy, and unlike synthetics they react predictably to being heated.

Because the fabrics I used were very soft, I quilted them onto a lining—just stitched some straight lines following the plaid.  I used scraps of vintage cotton kitchen towel on some and very thin interfacing on others.  This made me confident that the seams will stand up to handling, and added a sweet design detail on plainer fabrics.

cotton flannel hearts

The pillows are 3-4 inches across, just right to fit in a palm or slide into a pocket.  For the heart shapes, I drew the shape I wanted on an index card, then cut it down to be a bit flatter.  Then I dragged two pencils in parallel around the edge to give me a seam allowance.  The cut-out card made a pattern that looked like a too-wide heart, without much definition at the top.  When I sewed two hearts together to make a pillow, the seams and (later) the stuffing pushed up the sides and gave the final product a nice rounded shape.  Hearts definitely took longer to make than squares, but I wasn’t in a hurry and played with both shapes.

A sharp chopstick swiped from the kitchen made an admirable tool for getting corners turned out.

If you decide to make a few dozen handwarmers, like I did, you’ll need more rice than you think.  A 2-pound bag of rice filled about 8 handwarmers.  Save yourself a return trip to the store and buy the large bag.

Do you have a favorite little gift to make in multiples?  Please share!

stacked handwarmers

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