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Hand Warmers

Are cold hands keeping you inside all winter long? If you have scraps of cotton fabric, you can sew these little pocket hand warmers: They'll keep your hands toasty on chilly days, and make charming little gifts, too.

woman holding hand warmers

Photography: Ashley Poskin

Source: Martha Stewart

Introduction

This idea comes from our friend Ashley Poskin. They are fully customizable from the shape and size right down to the fabric. "I found that a rectangle fits snug as a bug inside mittens of little hands, as well as the front pocket of a pair of adult size jeans," she says. "A circle pouch feels nice to hold in your hands or on your lap when you're kicked back and relaxing, and the larger rectangle is excellent for stuffing inside coat pockets on very cold days." Add a relaxing scent by including dried herbs such as lavender or chamomile, or simply fill the fabric pouches with rice.

 

To warm up the pouches, place them in the microwave for 30 seconds, adding time (depending on your microwave wattage) as needed until they are warm to the touch. When choosing fabric, a natural fiber such as 100-percent cotton is best. And if it's time to retire your favorite flannel? Give it new life by making it into reusable hand warmers—the soft, warm material will feel wonderful next to cold hands.

materials

  • Cardstock

  • Pencil

  • Cotton fabric (Melody Miller Playful Collection Cotton Fabric, $12 for 1/2 yd., etsy.com.)

  • Rotary cutter (OLFA Rotary Cutter, 45 mm, $12.60, amazon.com.)

  • Cotton thread

  • Sewing machine and supplies

  • Pinking shears (optional)

  • Rice or flax seed

  • Dried herbs for fragrance (optional)

  • Kitchen funnel (optional)

steps

  1. Decide on the size and shape of your hand warmers. Draw a custom template in pencil, adding 1 inch to each side, onto a piece of cardstock; cut out.

    tracing paper to make hand warmers
  2. Layer the template onto fabric, trace, and cut out a front and back piece. (Note: If you cut both pieces together at the same time, be sure to pin the fabric to keep it from moving around.)

    sewing and filling a hand warmer
  3. Set the stitch length on your sewing machine to a very small stitch (you don't want any grains of rice coming out). Turn the fabric so that the print is facing right side out, pin, and sew along three sides, leaving at least a 1/2-inch seam allowance. Sew along the fourth side, stopping to leave at least a 2-inch opening.

    pinning fabric for hand warmers
  4. Working over a small bowl, insert a kitchen funnel (or a piece of paper rolled into a funnel shape) into the opening of the pouch and slowly pour the grain inside of the bag until it is approximately three-fourths of the way full. Once filled, pin the bag and carefully take it to the sewing machine. Follow along the previous stitch until the pouch is completely closed. (Note: If adding an herb, mix together the herb and grain in separate bowl before pouring into the fabric pouch. For a more subtle scent, use a 3:1 ratio of grain to herb.) Optional: Trim along the seam with pinking shears for a scalloped edge.

    hand warmers stacked in a pile

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