Sew your own handwarmers this Christmas! This is a great project to use up your stash of fabric offcuts and can be easily completed with inexpensive household ingredients. These cute little guys are essentially mini bean-bags which can be heated in your microwave (so don't make them for people who haven't got a microwave!) and then popped into your pockets or gloves to keep your hands toastie on crisp winter mornings.
Now, every body loves a roaring fire at Christmas, but seriously you must only make these out of pure cotton or natural fibres as anything synthetic will probably melt and potentially catch fire. As with anything warming in the microwave - my advice would be to heat these babies for 10 seconds at a time until you're happy with the temperature. I made mine out of 100% cotton, a lovely mustard fox print which I used earlier in the year to make a tunic, so I was happy to be able to use some of the offcuts. They are filled with rice and I have added dried lavender from my garden which I try to use every year in the gifts that I make, so they not only look good but they SMELL great! Here's how I made mine:
100% Cotton or linen fabric (perfect for offcuts from your stash)
cotton to match your fabric
needle for hand finishing
lavender (it's a nice touch but not absolutely necessary)
Make a 3 inch square template from a piece of card
Use your template to mark out squares of fabric to cut, using tailors chalk to draw your lines (these lines can be brushed off afterwards). I folded up my fabric like a concertina and pinned it (pictured) so that I would be able to cut several pairs of squares in one go to save time. You'll need 2 squares for each handwarmer, a front and a back, so 4 squares to make a pair of handwarmers!
Cut out your squares, and arrange in front of you so that you cut an even number to get as many pairs of handwarmers as you desire.
Pin the squares right sides together to keep them from skewing while you sew.
Fill your bobbin with the same thread that you will be using on your machine, I chose this fun neon orange thread which I had from a previous project.
Using a straight stitch sew all the way round your square leaving half of the last side open, back stitching at the beginning and end so that it doesn't unravel. You'll need to leave the opening so that you can turn it the right side out and add the rice at the end. Before you turn your square the right side out, snip the corners so that you can get a nicer and less bulky finish.
Turn the square the right side out and press well with a hot iron. Get right into the corners to really push them out and get a nice shape.
Next set yourself up with a tray, a teaspoon and possibly a funnel (but only if your funnel has a nice wide spout!).
I used a small teaspoon in the end to spoon in the rice and lavender. Fill the bags up so that they are full but still have a little give in them.
Then pinch the opening shut, turning the insides under, pin to secure and then hand sew shut with a slip stitch and lock it off with a couple of stitches on top of each other.
And you're finished! They are super neat and very pleasing! I have seen other versions on Pinterest which use contrasting fabrics for the front and back, they look great especially in florals.
Another twist on the same principle would be to cut your squares slightly bigger with pinking shears and top stitch through the fabric (no need for turning inside out) so that it resembles a pleasing fabric ravioli. Both look great and they are sure to be a hit with your friends and family. Good luck and let us know how you get on.
Don't forget that you can come and join any number of sewing classes for beginners at Ministry of Craft, and walk away with a finished item. Why not try our SIMPLE REVERSIBLE TOTE or FOLKSY MAKE UP BAG courses on Saturday 3 January? Use our special offer code YULE5 to get £5 off either (or both). These courses make great gifts and are an excellent way to step up your sewing in the New Year!