Make: Reusable, Eco-friendly Heart Hand Warmers

There are some aches and pains that will only get better with a little heat. Growing up, my mom (hi mom!) had an electric heating pad that we’d get to snuggle up with if we needed it. About seven years ago, I had a roommate who swore by her hot water bottle.

A pair of DIY eco-friendly heart hand warmers made from scrap fabric | from barley & birch

I discovered a little-known trick to making reusable, eco-friendly hand warmers and heating pads that don’t require electricity or carefully filling a bottle with boiling lava-hot water (that part never ends well for me). I made a plain square one for myself, but I created a few cute little hearts to use with kiddos who need a quick hand warm-up!

A pair of DIY eco-friendly heart hand warmers made from scrap fabric | from barley & birch

If you’re sticking with simple a simple square or rectangle and using these for younger kids, you can cover your heating pad with one of our DIY bruise buddies (and wait ’til you see the mini bandaid softies we made to go with them!). Wouldn’t these make the cutest sugar-free Valentine’s day gift too?

Sewing supplies laid out on a whitewashed wooden board surface

To make your own reusable eco-friendly heart hand warmers, you’ll need: 


  • 100% Cotton scrap fabric (linen or hemp would work too)
  • A needle and thread
  • Uncooked rice or barley

DIY Eco-Friendly Heart Hand Warmer Instructions:

  1. Cut 2 rectangles or simple shapes from scrap fabric

    Depending on the scrap fabric you have laying around, you can make these as large or small as you need to. Although it’s easiest to cut out two large squares or rectangles, you can also cut out simple shapes, like the smaller hearts we did. The size is up to you and/or what you’re working with. We made ours for minis, so wanted them to be small.

    Important note: AVOID using synthetic fabrics or blends that contain things like acrylic, nylon, polyester, or spandex. These can melt and are unsafe to heat in a microwave.

  2. Sew your pieces of fabric together, leaving a small open space to fill

    You can hand sew these using a simple backstitch, or use a sewing machine if you’re making a larger heating pad. Sew three sides and leave one open to fill, just as if you’re making a pillow

  3. Fill with uncooked rice and sew closed

    Fill with uncooked white rice and sew up the small opening in your heating pad.

  4. Microwave to heat

    Microwave for a few seconds, it will stay hot for a pretty long time. I start off with a pretty hot heating pad and it lasts hours.

    NOTE: You’ll want to test this before using it or giving it to a little one. Every microwave is different, and every fabric is different.

Can’t sew and feeling left out? Take an odd sock, fill it halfway with rice, and tie the rest of it in a good, tight knot. It may not be quite as cute as our heart hand warmers, but it certainly does the job!

I myself have only recently discovered the joy of sewing and have come up with a few simple sewing projects adults (and kids!) who are new to sewing can use to learn…

For the cutest little crab you ever did see, try this upcycled crab softie I made from a tee-shirt and old tea towel! Or use some scrap fabric to make these simple DIY bean bag gnomes, a no-smudge chalk pastel rainbow pillow, or a set of bright and summery felt beach ball softies.

For an easier hand-sewn DIY doll, use our painted Wednesday Addams softie instructions and pattern. The painted clothing and accessories cut down on lots of sewn steps, and make this a wonderful project for adults and kids to work on together!

team barley and birch
team barley and birch

This post is from the barley & birch archives


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