/ / How to Make a DIY Heating Pad for shoulders and neck – Free Tutorial

How to Make a DIY Heating Pad for shoulders and neck – Free Tutorial

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Sew a warm hug around the neck! You can make your own Therapeutic Neck-wrap Heating Pad with a few scraps and a handful of household items. This makes such a thoughtful gift, but make sure you treat yourself to one too!

This cute heating pad is 24” long and 6” wide, just perfect to wrap around your neck and shoulders. Heat it up in the microwave for 1-2 minutes and then relax, relieve stress, and ease your tired muscles. 

It makes the perfect gift for a friend, child’s teacher, or even the mailman!

UPDATE: This blog post has been converted to an optional PDF that’s optimized for printing. Find it here. The pattern in the blog post below is totally free to read, print, and sew! Just hit CTRL +P on your computer to print. The Optimized for Printing PDF download for $2 is totally optional.

This is how I wrapped mine up. Are you ready to get sewing?

For each DIY Heating Pad, you will need:

  • 8 strips of fabric 3 1/2” x 6 1/2”

  • 1 backing strip 6 1/2” x 24 1/2”

  • 3-4 cups of rice (or other grain for filling)

The fabric I used is Riding Hood by Josephine Kimberling for Blend Fabrics. That print on the far left below reminds me of a cosy afghan. And it has all my favorite colors.

1. Arrange the 8 strips in a pleasing combination.

2. Sew them together with a 1/4” seam allowance.

3. Press all the seams to the side in the same direction. This is important.

4. Lay the pieced strip right sides together with the backing strip. FYI… I don’t really cut my backing strip until my front is done, then I lay the front on top of the backing fabric and cut around. It’s easier that way and then they are already RST ready to sew.


5. Stitch around the rectangle with a 1/4” seam allowance, leaving a 4” opening on one short end. Stitch again a second time to reinforce the seam.

Note: the seam allowances should all be pressed toward the end with the opening.

6. Clip the corners (without cutting the stitching), turn right side out and press. Press the seam allowances at the opening to the inside.

7. Each little compartment will hold 1/3 to 1/2 cup of rice or other grain (I’ve heard that you can also use barley, buckwheat, flax seeds, etc. I always use rice).

Pour 1/2 cup of rice through the opening and shake it all the way down to the bottom (the first compartment seems to need the most rice). Pin across the first seam.

All the seam allowances should be pressed toward the opening at the top so you can topstitch just above the seam, right on top of them. Sew slowly, smoothing away any rice that may try to get in the way.

Fill each of the next compartments with 1/3 – 1/2 cup of rice, then pin and topstitch above the seam. 1/2 cup makes a nice full compartment, 1/3 cup makes it more squishy. I like it somewhere in between.


8. When you get to the last compartment, fill it with only 1/3 cup of rice. Use plenty of pins to hold it closed.

9. Sew all the way across the top to topstitch and close the opening.

Wrap up and gift!

By the way, these also make great cold packs. We keep ours in the freezer for bumps and bruises. Then it easily heats up when we need it warm. 

You could also add a few drops of essential oil (like lavender) to the rice before filling. 

Looking for more teacher gift ideas? I’ve also given them Ribbon & Vinyl Zipper Pouches, Wrist Strap Keychains, and 2 Sided Zips.

Happy sewing!

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I wish I would have seen this yesterday – I think they would have turned out so much cuter than the oven pinch-pads I made for my kids’ teachers 🙂 But there’s always next year! Thanks for the tutorial 🙂 Merry Christmas!

  2. Mary Morrison says:

    Thank you! I am a teacher/librarian and have many volunteers that work in my library! Perfect thank you gift for all their hard work!

  3. Kate Gomperts says:

    these are beautiful, love the fabric! as for the filling, i think rice is not encouraged because it doesn’t last as long as the other grains. personal preference in the long run. thanks for the great idea!

  4. debra mclaughlin says:

    thank you for this tutorial… my daughter bought me on years ago.. always wanted
    to know how to make one ,,, and what was inside.. think mine has some kind of
    bean.. boy they sure do work for pain…

  5. has anyone made this with play sand?
    doesn’t rice invite bugs?

    1. I imagine that zapping it in the microwave to heat it up would prevent bugs, as would storing it in the freezer.

  6. I am a pretty active person so I have a few ailments were heat helps. I use a product called TriHeat which helps relieve my pain in multiple areas while allowing me to be in a comfortable position. Check it out for yourself Triheating.com hopefully it will help you like it’s helped me.


  8. Thanks, this looks really useful!

  9. Too many ads. It just kills the entire thing. I dont mind supporting you but from now on I will use an ad blocker so I can see and read your blog. Sadly this will prevent you from getting paid for the ads as they won’t appear. Oh well your choice.

  10. Linda. Lai says:

    There is no mention of using cotton thread. I thought you had to have 100% materials for anything that you put in a microwave.

  11. How do you stop all the roce getting in the way? I use wheat for mine and i cant manage to section them without getting the needed caught on the wheat and sewing terribly! What foot do u use? Thanks 🙂

    1. You must work section by section. If the rice or wheat is still getting in the way, you are putting too much in. Good luck!

  12. Rice keeps getting in the way no matter how little I fill the sections. Can you hand stitch in between sections instead of machine? Any tips would be so appreciated! 🙂

  13. After you fill up each compartment with rice, just add a line of pins across to block the rice from interfering with the stitching. Works perfectly

  14. This is fabulous!!! So much classier than the "tube sock" method. Thank you for sharing.

  15. I used dried lavender to fill mine. It turned out great! I do however agree with the comment on the ads. They are very irritating and block out important parts. One has to continuously close the ads in order to see the instructions,

  16. Jane chizmar says:

    I made these for all my family…guys and girls and were well received. I just made 2 strips then sewed like you did filling and making a seam every 3 1/2 ". They turned out great. Made a dozen!!!

  17. When I made mine before i made all the pockets and left the ends open with enough fabric to make one long double fold over hem. Also I’ve been told barley holds heat longer.

  18. Thank you the idea…can these be washed and dried?

    1. I don’t believe so. I try to keep mine clean and use (microwave) them regularly to keep any bugs away. But when they start to look too dingy, it’s time to make new!

  19. Your directions are great. I plan to start making some first thing tomorrow! Thank you.

  20. June Leyendecker says:

    Thank you. This is such a cute design compared to the long tube concept. I used your pattern to create one a few weeks back and I love it. I used flax seed to fill mine and am very pleased. I’ve been used it regularly to warm my feet when I get in bed during the cold weather season.

  21. I made one this morning, fast and easy. I used cotton fabric and thread, just like I do with the microwave bowl cozies. But when I heated it for 2 minutes, it was so hot I could hardly touch it. I am thinking a layer of warm and natural might help that, and might even keep it warm a little longer.

  22. Nora Nevers says:

    Looking at the print optimized tutorial I can’t tell where you sew the separate compartments.

  23. Nancy Havens says:

    Hi Caroline! I have enjoyed following several of your ideas in the last few years! I did make the heating pads for my daughters for Mothers Day. I had enough strips and rice to also make them heating pads for their eyes for sinus/allergy headaches. They turned out cute and smelled great! Thank you!

  24. Thank you for this tutorial. These will also make great gifts! I used rice in mine. That last little compartment was a booger. The rice kept wanting to escape! I used wonder clippies to keep it at bay.

  25. Pixel Bug says:

    Hello! Do you use backing strips on both sides? This is my first sewing project 😊

  26. mary welch says:

    Read and re reread and still missed the stitching of each individual compartment on neck warmer/cooler. Good size and thanks.

    1. Hi Mary,
      I hope your computer is showing it all. Do you see the picture of my Pyrex measuring cup with 1/3 cup of rice? The instructions for filling each compartment are right under that.


  27. Hi – my first time to your blog – I think I’ll be back! Wondering about the separate pieces which are then sewn together – someone who loves beautiful fabric will love it – someone who prefers a more plain look (like a GUY!) might want all one color fabric. Is there any reason not to use 2 long strips and just mark where to sew the seams for the rice ‘pockets’?

  28. Christine says:

    This may seem like a silly question but is there a preferred type of rice? Long grain, Minute, Basmati,…? I ask because they all have different qualities.

    1. I am not a rice connoisseur. Would anyone else like to guess the qualities of rice hidden in cotton bags and heated in the microwave?

  29. For the Heating pad for shoulder and neck do you need to use cotton thread?

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