Each year when the weather starts to get a bit chilly I usually spend a morning or afternoon making wheat bags. I’m really not one of those people who sews things (though that would be nice), but these are easy enough that even I can make them! Plus they’re extremely cheap to make. They’re basically a material bag filled with wheat, which you pop in the microwave for a few minutes with a mug of water and they get nice and warm. They’re great for warming chilly feet, bundling up with you in the car, laying over an aching neck or just cuddling in your lap while at the computer. This morning I decided to whip one up for bf, who stays up late using the computer and whose room can get rather chilly! I used left over bits and pieces to make it and didn’t really bother with measuring, just used an old one as a guide and away I went! It took about an hour and I don’t think it looks too bad J (Though perhaps not overly manly, heehee)
Just in case you feel cold or inspired, I wrote out some instructions so you can give it a go! (I know it looks long, but it’s truly really easy!
An’s Guide To: Making Wheatbags
Heat-resistant, non-flammable material (e.g. calico)
Scissors that can cut material
Pins (I used patchwork safety-pins because I couldn’t find the sewing pins)
Something to sew with, either sewing machine or needle and thread
*For a wheat bag about the size that I made, about 1-1.5kg of wheat would be good.
First of all you have to decide on the size and shape of your wheat bag. My favourite shape is a long rectangle in three segments, so I usually make this kind, however you can make lots of different shapes; square, star etc. (I remember once in the school holidays we each made a big frog.) In this wee guide I will show how to make a rectangle wheat bag. (Hover over or click the images to make them larger)
What To Do:
1) Start by measuring out the shape of the bag and cutting it out. (If you iron your material first this will be easier because it will be smoother and flatter, but you don’t have to). You will need to add 1-2cm seam allowance on any side which you will sew together. I cut out a large rectangle (about 55cm x 25cm) which I fold in half lengthways to make the bag, so one side of my bag will be a fold not a seam. You can do this also, or else cut out two identical pieces to sew together.
2) At this point you can add any little bits ‘n’ pieces you want to have on the outside, like stitching a pattern or sewing someone’s name. I used a paper template made from a piece of scrap paper to cut three hearts out of red material and then sewed them onto the front (patterned) side of my bag material. I placed them with a space between ready for when I divide the bag into 3 segments later, with extra space at the ends for the seams. If you add anything to the bag (you absolutely don’t have to, simple is cute!) remember it must also be non-flammable.
3) Right, now we’re ready to make the actual bag. Fold the material so that the pattern or front of the material is on the inside (if you have two pieces of material lay one face-up then place the other directly over the top, face-down.) Pin the sides in place. I also pinned my folded edge just to make sure it didn’t move. (See pic)
4) Now for the sewing. This is why these things are so easy to make – the only necessary sewing is big straight lines. Sew along all the (non-folded) sides except one of the shorter ends (this is where we will add the wheat). Backtrack a little around the corners/at the ends of the lines if you want to, to reinforce the stitching. At the short end which you have left open, sew about ¼ of the way in from each corner, backtracking to reinforce the stitching so it doesn’t pull when you open the remaining hole to pour in the wheat.
5) Take your scissors and cut off the corners of your inside-out bag, making sure to stay a few mm’s away from the stitching (see pic). We cut off the corners so that when you turn your bag in the right way the seams won’t bunch up in the corners and make them round and hard. Next carefully turn your bag back in the right way through the hole you left in one end. Use something long and thin (like a pen, knitting needle or chopstick) to poke into each of the four corners and turn them inside-out properly. Hopefully you will get a nice sharp corner J Now you can start to see what your bag is going to look like ~ and now we can add the wheat!
6) It’s a good idea to measure the length of your bag into three even sections and mark them with a pin, pencil or chalk. This is where you will sew the dividing lines for each segment. I put my wheat into a big bowl and used a thin plastic (Star Wars) cup to scoop up the wheat and pour it into the bag. After a couple of cupfuls close your fingers around where the line of stitching is going to be for the first segment (see pic on left) and shake the bag a little to see it’s shape. Don’t overful with the wheat, each of the 3 segments should probably be about 2/3-3/4 full. Remember that you want your 3 segments to be even, so make sure you have enough wheat for the other two. If you’re not sure, divide the wheat into 3 parts before beginning. Overfilling also makes it hard to sew the seam, which is what we can do next!
7) Find the pin or mark you made for the first segment and just sew along it right across the bag. Easy, right? This will stop the wheat all running to one end of the bag J Since the wheat is quite heavy you might need to support it with one hand if you’re using a sewing machine (see pic). Make sure none of the wheat goes under the presser-foot to break the needle or jam the machine!
8 ) Now repeat steps 6 and 7 to make the second segment. For the third and last segment we add the wheat in the same way, but then need to sew close the hole through which we added the wheat. Just hold it closed with your fingers (do not sew over your fingers if using a sewing machine!) and sew a nice straight line across it a couple of times, close to the edge.
Ta-daa! That’s it! Now you have a nice wheat bag to keep you cosy in the winter, or to relax a sore neck or back.