- by Barb Shelton
How to Make a Foot Warmer
Do you have cold feet? I mean actual feet that are actually cold; not the kind of "cold feet" where you have second thoughts or get scared about something. I mean the kind of cold feet that keep you awake, and that your spouse doesn't appreciate having on his or her legs.
To the rescue: a flax seed FOOT WARMER!!! I've used one for many years. In fact, it was my sister, Pat, who gave me one that she bought for me at a bazaar. I guess I was infamous for having cold feet even back then ~ which was probably 20 years ago now. My life ~ or at least my foot warmth at night, and therefore my well being at night ~ has never been the same!!!
These are basically just very large bean bags, except, instead of being full of beans, they are full of flax seed. You could use other fillers ~ like I've heard of rice being used ~ but flax seeds are tiny, and very soft and "fluid" in how they move and contour beautifully and comfortably around your feet.
The best fabric for these is a stretchy velour. Here are four colors I have used to make these, all of which work well.
Imagine now NICE it will feel on your skin as it warms up ice-cold feet!
My husband, Dave, used to be a virtual heater! Even in the snow, he radiated heat!!! But when he comes home from working a night of graveyard shift and gets into bed, his feet are frrreeeezing!!! And, color me selfish, but I am one of those who does not want to be a foot warmer for anyone else; I'm doing well to keep my own feet and legs warm.
But I was happy to make him a foot warmer! However, each time I offered, he politely declined saying, "I'm fine; I really don't need one."
But one day, I decided to JUST DO IT!!! Worst case scenario was that I'd have an extra one ~ albeit green ~ for myself! And so I did make one for him!
Do you think he liked it?
Think he used it?!?!
It was LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT ~ or first feel!!!!! He absolutely totally enjoys it!!!
In fact, he recently told me: "I had NO idea what I was missing!!! I don't know how I ever got along without it!" He added that the thing is addicting, and does more than just warm his feet; it has a way of warming the heart and soul, too!
MULTI-USES FOR A FAMILY
Noah is a young man with Neurofibromatosis who deals with migraines a lot. I made him a few of these foot warmers, in different sizes. Like for my own migraines, I knew it probably couldn't heal or take away a migraine, but it could sure make life more comfortable in the midst of one.
Noah has five siblings, so I thought it would be fun for the others to get to have a few of these to share and use too. And they have! They can also be used as hand and neck warmers.
Noah's mom, Maggie (my friend), told me: "Often times I find it in our "calm your body spot," and I discover that Esther has used it as a weighted lap pad!! She LOOOOOVES IT!!! With her sensory issues, it's been a lifesaver!!! ~ an incredible, DIVERSE gift!"
Here's what Maggie told me about Noah's reaction when she first gave them to him from me: "Noah was SOOOOO blessed!!! He came home from a wrestling meet with a big headache and was already asking for a heating pad!! He pulled these out of the bag and was feeling them, and exclaimed "Green is my favorite color!! This was so nice of her!!"
She also told me: "On his way home from a wrestling meet, he got in the car and immediately said that he couldn't wait to get home and crawl into bed with his heating pads!! They had a long car ride to the meet, and he wasn't feeling well. I asked how he liked them, he said they are the best!!!'"
"Noah has been using these for the last two days NON STOP following his wisdom teeth removal!! He asked for me to bring these ones specifically because they are the right amount of pressure on his healing cheeks!"
Maggie said that the other kids love them too, and that you can chill them and use them cold, too: "Each of the kids will ask for them when fighting a tummy bug or achy flu! Just last night Gideon asked for one after getting sick in the middle of the night. He wanted the "soft green cold thing that Noah uses." 😂👍🏽
And regarding the aspect of them being "fluid," she said "I loved how you used the word "fluid." They truly are fluid!! I've used them for my own migraines on the back of my neck or over my forehead. The pressure they provide is so comforting in the midst of that migraine intense pain!!"
Before I move on, here's a pic of "Noah's mom" ~ Maggie ~ who's been doing most of the talking above, and "the foot warmer maker" ~ me! We are not with said foot warmers, but with each other ~ at a ceramic play day at Glazy Dayz:
(This wide-mouth smile is actually a "look"
that Maggie is quite famous for, which many have
done with her in photos. This was my first attempt
at this look, which Maggie said I nailed!
Pretty proud of this.)
So, would YOU like to have or give one of these foot warmers?! If so, let's get you makin' one of these! They are actually very easy. The "minimalist instructions" are just to make a giant bean bag and fill it with flax seed. My instructions actually make the process easier to figure out and do!
DECIDE & PURCHASE:
1) Decide on the size you want your foot warmer to be. If you want to make one for an adult, 14 or 15 inches long by 8 or 9 inches wide is good. Or if the feet are bigger or you just want to be able to wrap the bag further around your feet and up your leg(s), 18 inches long by 10 inches wide is better. This is NOT an exact science; at ALL! I like mine to be large enough to wrap around both of my feet. (A smaller one ~ like for a child ~ could be 12 by 7 inches.) Any size will technically work; it's just a matter of how much coverage you want. If your whole feet, tops and bottoms, are cold, it's very nice to have ALL of the surface coldness getting warmed at the same time.
NOTE: This fabric will stretch in only one direction, so have the stretchy part be on the long side of the foot warmer. And consider this as you're deciding how much fabric to get.
2) Purchase crushed, stretch velour fabric. You'll be folding it in half, so you need twice the area of your finished foot warmer. (I always just get extra and have enough to make another foot warmer, and maybe even hand warmers to put in pockets at an outside event in cold weather.
3) Purchase 5 to 6 pounds of flax seed in the bulk section. 1 or 2 pounds is enough for a foot warmer for tiny feet or a hand warmer. 3 or 4 pounds is enough for a child-size warmer. 5 to 6 pounds will fill a bit-larger one. (7 pounds is for a very large one, which is what I made for myself this last time, but it's almost too big; kinda difficult to handle.) Note that you will not be FILLING the bag full. In fact, it will actually not really be "full" at all as you want it to be able to wrap around your feet or hands.
SEWING THE BAG:
4) Fold the fabric in half, carefully lining up the cut edges. If the edges were not cut evenly, go ahead and get them even now ~ which is easiest to do when you just lay the two pieces on top of each other, pin together if you prefer. (I don't; it stays together nicely, and this just doesn't need to be exact.) Cut the two pieces ~ top and bottom ~ together. So one of your four sides will be a fold (on the right side in this picture), and you'll cut the other three sides of both the top and the bottom at the same time.
I just cut without making any lines. But if you don't feel that confident, you can use a yardstick to draw a line onto the fabric, and cut along that. (It will end up inside, in the seam, and not show.)
5) Pin all three sides together, leaving about 3 inches open on one of the short sides. I put two pins on each end of this 3-inch opening as my signal to not stitch inside it.
6) Start sewing at the fold on the side with the opening. Stitch just up to the first set of double pins, and reinforce the stitching. Then lift up the presser foot and pull the bag forward, pulling out the thread from the bobbin to give yourself some leeway thread. (Otherwise it'll break from the tension.)
7) Optional: I pull out a several-inch length of thread from the top so that I already have my sewing thread ready to stitch the opening closed after filling it with the flax seeds. You can always thread a needle with a new and separate length of thread, but it's nice to have it right there, ready to sew.
8) Position the presser foot right above the second set of double pins and continue sewing from that point, all the way around the other two sides. (Sorry ~ no picture.)
9) Sew a second (double) stitch line just a short distance from the first stitch line. This might seem like it's optional, but it really isn't, as this seemingly redundant step will literally add years to the life of your foot warmer!
10) Trim the four corners, being careful to not cut into your stitching at all. (Unless you want to end up with hundreds of little flax seed visitors in bed with you.)
11) Turn the bag in-side-out, pushing the corners out to be pointy. Like corners! Because they are corners! Now we're ready to...
FILL THE BAG WITH FLAX SEEDS:
12) To do this, we first need to make a funnel so that we have a tool to use to fill the bag with the flax seeds. (If you have one that's big enough ~ but not too big ~ for the job, go for it! This just works best for how I like to work.) Here are the three items you'll need to make this funnel:
sheet of paper
Cardstock and sheet protectors are more sturdy than paper, but I like the clearness of the plastic as it enables me to see from the outside where the seeds are at in the falling-into-the-bag process.
13) Roll the plastic sheet protector (or cardstock) to start forming the funnel, and tape it along its edge. (This isn't an exact science; you just want to form a funnel. I'm sharing pictures only to make it easier to understand what I mean.)
14) Use the scissors to snip the tip off. Cut a little at a time, each time slipping it into the hole on the bag until it will go down inside the opening a few inches. If it just barely fits in the opening and doesn't go down very far, it will easily pop back out ~ when you have the funnel full of flax seeds!
15) Get your bag of flax seed opened up on the table and situated so that you can scoop down into it easily with one hand. (This is easier to do with two people doing it together, but since it's usually just me, I'm making it as easy as possible for one person to do alone.) And get a scoop of some kind. (I borrowed mine from my flour bin!) It could even be a small to medium-sized cup!
16) Insert the funnel down into the bag's opening, and wrap-and-scrunch the end of the bag around the opening so that the whole set-up feels secure.
17) Now scoop up some flax seeds and pour them in to the funnel, shaking things up a bit to nudge the last of the seeds ~ which like to stick to the side of the funnel ~ to finish the job and slide on down into the bag. (The seeds look HUGE here, but they're actually very tiny; they just look big cuz they are close to the camera.)
18) Shake the bag every couple of scoops just to get them down into the corners, and then lay the bag down so that you can see how full it's getting. You really don't want it very full at all; you want it rather flat, actually, as the seeds ~ inside the bag ~ need to be able to "flow" around the foot or hand that they're warming (or cooling). If the bag is too full, it will just be a stiff bag of flax seeds unable to fulfill its hoped-for mission in life.
SEWING IT UP - TO FINISH IT UP!
19) Fold the edges of the unsewn opening to extend the sewn seams, and pin in place. See that thread sitting over on the right side? That's the thread I pulled out and left hanging there ~ ready for a future task ~ when I was sewing the seam in step #7. Well, this is that "future task"!
20) Just thread up that needle and slip-stitch that opening closed! Once done, I go back the other way and stitch again to reinforce it.
(I don't actually always pin it, as above; sometimes it's just easier to press the folded-down sides together with my hand, hold it closed, and stitch that way. Do it whatever way you're most comfortable with.)
And here it is, all stuffed, sewn, and FINISHED!!! Ready to heat up the iciest of feet!!! The lumpiness is just the seeds sitting inside the bag that way. The seam itself is, of course, perfect!!!
You can't really tell here, but the bag is not more than two inches deep in the center! You really want it thin enough to be able to wrap around feet, hands, or even shoulders.
HEATING IT UP!
The heating time will vary according to the size of your bag and the size ~ and therefore power ~ of your microwave. So you want to start easy! If it's a tiny bag, just see what 1 minute does. If it's only "barely warm," put it in for another 30 seconds to a minute. You can always add more time, but if you get it too hot, you won't be able to use it for a while.
Be sure to add up all the times together so that you know what to set it for next time.
I'd love to
hear how it goes
#footwarmer #flaxseed #sew #sewing #beanbag #DIY #velour #stretchvelour #velvet