Concerning Keeping Warm:
Staying warm whilst going about your daily life can be a challenge during the winter months (I am so NOT talking to you, warm and tropical paradise-dwellers). It certainly NOT just a simple matter of dressing warm enough. Why not? Why, because the amount of clothing that will keep you warm enough while doing one activity may cause you to overheat in the next! And it’s impractical to adjust your layers every time you change tasks. (And don’t get me started on the furnace!)
For example: my laundry room is downstairs. I live upstairs. Climbing up and down that flight of stairs while carrying a laundry basket (and let’s be honest; I’m usually also carrying an 18month old because she will yell at the baby gate the whole time I’m gone if I don’t bring her) is not only tiring but is a sure-fire way to discover you are wearing too many layers. Yet once I’ve gone down and come back up, I will be doing less strenuous chores for a time (such as washing dishes, filling Doll’s milk bottle, wiping up Doll’s milk dribbles, putting toys away, sweeping, seriously the list is endless). Then I have to go back down again. With another load. And, again, a heavy baby. I am too busy to be donning and doffing clothing in between each little task.
What’s a perpetually cold person to do?
My go-to heat regulator is a “magic” bag.
“Magic Bags” are a name-brand therapeutic heat bag. I have owned the name-brand Magic Bag. It’s great. But they get lost, worn out, lent out, burnt, or just disappear into cat space (for those who haven’t heard the term before, cat space is where things go when they disappear. You dropped your pen/stylus and it is just gone? It’s in cat space. It gets the name because cats have a knack for, say, going under or behind furniture and not coming out so you go to look for them and they are not there. They are in cat space.)
When you are as fond of your Magic Bag as I am, you get to a point where you don’t want to buy any more. Or you want it to look different. Or be a different size/shape. Or have a different filler! In my family, we call all heat bags “magic” bags but I will refer to them here as heat bags, because it is a copywritten term and I will no long be referring to the actual Magic Bag.
When I was just a youngling my parents got me and all my sisters homemade heat bags. They were made of a fabric that felt rather velvety and the filling was very fine and “flow-y.” They also had a very interesting aroma. It was ground flax seed. Eventually we used those heat bags to the end of their usefulness (the fabric became worn so thin that the flax was just pouring out) and being completely dependent on a heat bag for comfort, my sister and I made our own.
Out of socks.
And popcorn kernels.
Which worked fine the first couple times we used it but then one day the sock caught on fire in the microwave. Oops.
It is only recently that I have began making heat bags myself again. And they are not quite so crude as a knotted sock with popcorn seed in it.
I did a small amount of research on what the best filling is but to be honest I was quite biased as I already knew I wanted mine to have flax in it. After that first heat bag I had never had another flax one. Because all the subsequent ones (sock heat bag aside) were bought from a store. Flax was not a common filler, for some reason. Even though I am a flax fan, the research actually made it sound like it was indeed the best filler (although some people apparently did not like the aroma – crazy people!) Flax seeds are very small, therefore the heat bag is more comfortable and shapeable. They smell good. And each tiny seed has oil in it which means when you heat the bag of flax, the oil inside each seed heats up. Every time. It’s the best filler (in my opinion, obviously)! But in order to preserve the oil you actually do not want to use ground flax seed, because then the oil is released and it’s just gone.
So how can you make your own heat bag? Let me show you!
First you will have to decide on the shape you want. There are two standard shapes; long rectangle, and square. I prefer the rectangle because I find it’s more versatile. Then decide on your size. Mine tend to range; no two come out exactly the same. They can be as short as 15″ or as long as 20″. You can do yours however big or small you want though. I have also made hand warmer ones and those are quite a bit smaller, as you can imagine.
So, choose you fabric and fold it in half. Pin it and cut it out to the size you want. I put the fold on one of the long edges, so that I’d have less sewing to do.
You may be saying “Stop, Jaclyn! You’ve got the wrong sides pinned together!!” but fear not, I know what I’m doing. Or at least I did it on purpose anyway. I decided to put some french seams on my heat bag to ensure that no minuscule flax seeds would weasel their way out. So I sewed the seams (wrong sides together) leaving a couple inches gap.
I trimmed the seam allowance so that it would be encased in the next step:
Using the unsewn gap, I turned the bag inside out and sewed around it again (leaving the same gap open).
Turn it right side out again and do your best to get the corners pushed out. If you did it like me with the french seam it will be a little difficult because there’s a lot of bulk there but, depending on your fabric, you should get it pretty corner-ish-looking.
Now fill the bag with flax. I use a funnel. Because I have spilled flax seeds all over my kitchen floor many many many times. The funnel eliminates some of that risk (although I did end up spilling flax all over my floor making this tutorial anyway).
Fill the bag about halfway. If it’s too full, it’s won’t be comfortable. Too loose and it’ll get cold too fast and again, won’t be comfortable. I always check it by VERY CAREFULLY holding the opening shut and moving the bag some. I let the seeds spread out so I can feel their dispersement and how full the bag will be when they’re fully spread.
If you’re satisfied then sew the bag shut! Fold the cut ends of the gap back into the opening and sew along the outside. I do not recommend doing this by hand or else it may be too loose to contain the filler.
Now that it’s done, toss it in the microwave and heat for, say, 2 minutes! The actual heat time will vary depending on your microwave and how big you made the heat bag.
You can also put it in the freezer if you want a cold bag (but I never do that. Heat, baby!).
So what are you waiting for? Get out there and make a flax heat bag!
The Tale of Mummyhood