A cozy bed warmer is one of my favorite things. Put them in the microwave for a few minutes and they work wonders for cold feet, aches and pains, or plain old stress relief. Bed warmers make a such a wonderful gift. They are easy to make, inexpensive, and both pampering and useful.
For years I would climb into bed in the winter and put my cold feet on my husband’s legs to warm them up. Then my Mom made me a bed warmer. Now I heat mine up every cold night before I go to bed. I think my husband appreciates it more than I do.
Last year for Christmas, my Mom made them for all of her grandchildren. But I wasn’t sure if my kids would ever take the time to use them. I was wrong. It’s a winter ritual now. Every night before bed my girls line up at the microwave to heat their warmer. Even my son loves his, especially after a day of skiing, snowshoeing or playing in the snow.
My husband steals mine for back or neck aches… come to think of it, maybe he needs one for Christmas. We have also used them to soothe stomach aches and the chills from fevers.
To heat up your bed warmer, simply put it in the microwave for 3 to 4 minutes. (Don’t overheat like my husband did once, we heard popping like it is turning into popcorn!)
You can make a bed warmer filled with feed corn, rice or buckwheat. I use feed corn, because it is very inexpensive and it stays warm for an exceptionally long time. I purchase feed corn from our local IFA, a feed and farm supply store. A 50 pound bag is less than $10. That’s enough feed corn to make between 17 to 25 bed warmers. You can also purchase it by the pound if you are only making a few, but it is not as cost effective. Buckwheat (use whole seed, not the hulls) can be purchased in bulk from many natural foods stores. Buckwheat is wonderful, but just more expensive. Rice is inexpensive, but doesn’t hold the heat as long. Be prepared for what ever you use to smell when it’s heated- feed corn like popcorn, rice like cooked rice and buckwheat… smells a little grainy, but has the least smell of the three.
We have found several fabrics that make good warmers, such as cotton chenille, cotton flannel or cotton fabric. I prefer chenille or flannel as you want it to be cozy and soft. The only thing we’ve found is that the fabric should be a natural fiber, for some reason the synthetic fabrics seem to sweat when the bed warmer is heated (we found out the hard way using minky.)
I prefer a bed warmer with a removable, washable cover. Today I made a warmer with a chenille front for comfort and a print fabric back to make it easier to remove the inside pillow. The same technique can be used for flannel on both sides, you just don’t need to line the back fabric.
Here’s what you will need for this project:
- 7″ x 21″ 100% cotton chenille fabric for the front (available from most quilt shops) (or flannel)
- 7″ x 24″ cotton print fabric for the back (or cotton flannel)
- 1/2 yard cotton muslin for inside pillow and to line the cotton print fabric
- 7 cups feed corn, buckwheat, or rice (it is just under 3 pounds of the corn- I don’t know weights for rice or buckwheat.)
- rick rack for embellishment, if desired
Here’s how to make a cozy bed warmer:
1. First start by making the pillow. Measuring on the fold, cut your fabric 6 3/4″ x 21″. (Over all fabric will be 13 1/2″ x 21″ when opened up.)
2. Stitch around raw edges using 1/4″ seam, leaving one end open. Stitch around again using a scant 1/4″ seam (still leaving the one end open.) This double seam helps insure against leakage.
3. Clip corners and turn pillow right side out.
4. Fill pillow with 7 cups feed corn or filler of choice.
5. Fold a 1/2″ seam in and stitch the pillow shut, using a 1/4″ seam. Stitch a second row using a scant 1/4″ seam. (Again double seam to prevent leakage.)
6. Now to make the cover: Make sure to square up fabric if it has a grid or line pattern (like the fabric I am using.) Trim top chenille fabric to 7″ x 21″.
7. Cut back print fabric into two pieces measuring 7″ x 12″. I also cut muslin to the same dimensions make a lining for the print fabric (to help it match the weight of the front fabric better.) These two pieces will overlap on the back of the warmer, so the inner pillow can be removed for washing.
8. Place print fabric and muslin lining, right sides together. Using 1/4″ seam stitched one end. Open up so wrong sides are together and press along the seam. This makes a nice clean seam for the opening. I’m not really sure why I thought this picture would help, but I was hoping to show the print fabric sewn together with the muslin lining… I think?
9. Pin rick rack to print fabric (if desired) and stitch into place. I place them 3 1/2″ in on either side.
10. With right sides together pin the front chenille to the two pieces of the back print fabric. The back pieces will overlap in the middle. Stitch around entire cover. Clip corners.
11. Turn right side out and use a chopstick to push out the corners.
12. It’s a little bit of a squeeze, but fit the pillow inside the cover.
I’ve dropped the corn to one end to show a picture of the front and back in one shot. If you are giving a bed warmer as a gift, I love to fold it this way and tie a ribbon around the bundle. Make sure to include a tag that says to microwave the bed warmer for 3-4 minutes in the microwave. (Do not overheat.) You can also put your warmer in the freezer to make a cold pack. I hate cold packs! Heat it up and enjoy!
For another great gift idea, check out my Lavender Eye Pillow tutorial, which uses buckwheat and lavender.