In my last post I talked about the recent ladies retreat we had for my church. And being the Crafty McCrafterson that I am, I ended up being elected Craft monger for the retreat. I wanted to come up with a few crafts that would be fun to do, easy to prepare in bulk, and something that would be useful and appreciated by the women. Who wants to make lame crafts that just end up being thrown away or junking up your house, or that everyone has 1000 of already? Seriously, if I see one more bible verse bookmark or wwjd bead bracelet I’m going to hurl.
So I came up with 3 practical and fun craft projects for the girls, one of which I will be sharing with you today. (I’ll be sharing the others in the next few weeks.)
The hot/cold rice bags are simple to make, relatively inexpensive, and super useful! Even your hubby will be able to use this one! You can heat them up in the microwave for a few minutes, or freeze them overnight for a nice cold pack. It works both ways.
I had seen rice bags like this that had 4 compartments. This makes it so the rice doesn’t all pool to one spot, which I liked but I knew that wouldn’t work for our purposes since the bags would have needed to be filled with rice in small amounts in between sewing on the machine and then there would be nothing left for the crafters to do.
So I made a modified version with two long compartments. This allowed the rice to be divided into sections, and give the bag some structure and flexibility at the same time. I’m pretty happy with the finished result.
You will need:
- Flannel Fabric – I made 30 of these which ended up being about 6 yards of fabric. You could easily adjust for your needs. I chose several different colors and patterns to suit the styles of different ladies.
- Each piece of fabric will need to be 40″ long x 6″ wide (these will be folded in half lengthwise). Or alternatively you could make them 20″ long x 12″ wide (folding in half widthwise). The finished bags should be around 19″x5″ +/- depending on your seam allowance.
- Sewing Needles
Here’s what you do:
1. Start by cutting out your fabric strips. Iron the fabric so its nice and smooth, then fold in half rights sides together, lengthwise and press the fold down flat.
2. Sew a straight line down each side. You can do whatever size seam allowance you like. It really doesn’t matter as long as its even on both sides. Be sure to backstitch. Snip off the corners at the bottom, being careful not to cut into your stitching.
3. Flip your bag right side out and press the seams nice and flat. Fold the opening in 1/2 inch and press flat. (This will make a really clean seam opening for the crafters so all that is left to do is fill with rice and stitch closed.)
4. Fold the back in half lengthwise and press the fold flat. This will create a guide for your middle stitch.
5. Using either a complimentary or contrasting fabric color, stitch a straight line right down the middle of the bag.
This will create your two rice compartments. At this point your bags are complete and ready for the crafters.
To set up the craft station for your group you will need the following:
- Complete pre-sewn bags for all the crafters
- Bowls for the rice (I had 4 bowls, since there were other crafts going on and the girls were going through each station in small groups).
- Measuring cups for the girls to measure the rice
- Funnels (you’ll want funnels wide enough for the rice to flow freely. I ended up making paper cones for the girls using card stock and tape.)
- Rice – 2.5 lbs per bag (I needed 75lbs of rice. I found huge bags at Costco for dirt cheap.)
- Various Essential Oils – Optional (if you use different oils you may want to designate a specific bowl for each flavor. I didn’t do this and the scents started to blend by the end of the evening.)
- Instructions for the girls (I framed mine so it was easy to see). I also included a sewing diagram for those who do not know how to sew. I used a simple running stitch for the example.
- A sample rice bag so they can see the finished product. I used a contrasting thread on my example bag so it would be easy to see how I stitched it closed.
1. Fill the bowl with 2.5 cups of rice.
2. If desired add 5-6 drops of essential oil to the rice and mix throughly.
3. Using the cone, fill each side with half of the rice.
4. Using the needle and thread provided, hand-stitch the top of the bag closed.
5. Use at home by heating in the microwave, or chilling in the freezer. Apply to the back, neck or shoulders for relief of minor aches and pains.
The girls had a great time making these bags and I was really happy with how everything turned out! Why not try this at your next group event, craft party or ladies retreat?