Make it Yourself Monday- Hot/Cold Comfort Pillow

Instead of using an electric heating pad or a hot water bottle to help you with aches and pains, you should try one of these (microwaveable) comfort pillows! Need an ice pack instead? No problem, you can freeze this pillow and use it instead of an ice pack! These are often marketed as; bed buddies, therapy pillows, stress busters, magic bags, corn cozies, hot/cold rice bags, or comfort bags. But, no matter what they are called, they are basically the same thing. They come in various sizes and shapes, but all are some type of bag that holds a material that can be heated or cooled. The bag and stuffing material is pliable and will mold around body parts, to provide the heat or cooling necessary for pain relief and comfort. The only real difference between what you can find in the store and what you can make is MONEY! In stead of paying out $10-$40, you can spend fifteen minutes and less than $2.00 and make yourself one! Better yet, make several and solve your Christmas shopping dilemma!

This is a "sew simple" project, so no worries if you are not an accomplished  seamstress. There really is no need to even follow a pattern, just cut two pieces of material in the size and shape that you want your bag to be, making sure that you leave a half inch seam allowance.  That's it!  If you have a specific use in mind already, you should think about a shape that will work best for that particular body part. My Mom has neck and head pain stemming from an automobile accident, so she has a long, narrow pillow that easily wraps around from shoulder to shoulder, while I have a wider, shorter one for back pain.

There are a few things that you do need to keep in mind as you gather your materials. First and foremost is safety. You will need to use cotton material only. You do not want to risk fire. You can use plain, prints, flannels, or even denims. In fact, you can use (old or new) washcloths or towels. Not only do they work well, but then you don't need to worry about purchasing or cutting material. Even old socks work well. As long as you use a cotton material for the inner bag, you can let your imagination run wild. Think fluffy, think soft and go for it!    

Once you determine the size and shape you want, cut it appropriately and then sew the wrong sides together, leaving a few inches on one side open for filling. Remember to leave about a half inch seam allowance.  Turn it right side out and fill it from 1/2 to 3/4 full [of your chosen filling material]. You will need to experiment to decide the right amount for you. Just remember that you want it empty enough to allow the bag to mold itself around your body. Once it is full, finish sewing it closed by hand, double stitching for added security. This could be the end of your project, but I find it a lot nicer if you go on to make a removable case for this bag, a pillow case of sorts. By providing a pillowcase you make it easier to handle cleaning, and you can use whatever material you like, without worrying about its type. As long as you only heat the inside bag, you can use whatever you want for the case. You can leave the end open if you'd like, or you can use a velcro strip to close the ends, or if you are a seamstress, you can even put in a small zipper. 

Now, you may be wondering just what "filler material" will work best for the inside of your bag(s). There is no one perfect filler, rather there are several choices for you to experiment with, and to decide what suits you, what feels best to you. Most people go with either (long grain) rice or (feed) corn, but you can also use;  wheat, buckwheat hulls, barley, oatmeal, and various beans. 

Before you use the bag or give it away to be used, you will need to heat the bag three times, for three minutes each time.  You will need to allow the bag to completely cool between heat cycles, so that any bugs, eggs, and/or spores that may be hiding in your seed are killed off. This process also serves to remove any initial excess moisture. Once completed, your bags will be ready to use or give away. 

While you now have the very basics, there are some more safety guidelines, a few tips and tricks, and even some health considerations that will help you make the most of this therapeutic product. So come back tomorrow and check out the Teaching Tuesday post, "More About Making Comfort Pillows"

A few things to be included in tomorrow's post; 
-What not to use for filling
- Heating directions 
-Did someone yell FIRE?
-What else can be put into the bag?
-How to mask the odor of some of the fillers
-Figuring the cost per bag
-Tips and Tricks; Things to Watch out for

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