I’m going, to be honest, sometimes my hands are cold. Like really really cold. And I need a hand warmer that will last more than one or two uses. But I hate buying those silly plastic ones that, while super hot (sometimes too hot) and fun for the kids, just don’t seem to stand up to the test of time. I’ve seriously had one stop working for me after just one use–how wasteful! So I needed a hand warmer and had a busted flannel shirt, so I came up with an idea to make upcycled DIY reusable hand warmers for both kids and adults!
Then, when my kiddo’s favorite flannel shirt got a hole in it, I had a brilliant idea. What if I figured out how to make an upcycled flannel shirt hand warmer?! Wouldn’t that rock?! Well, the answer is yes, it rocks. And it’s hot, with some staying power, and, the best part is, these upcycled hand warmers are more than up to the task of being used and reused hundreds of times–until the flannel just wears out completely.
Let’s get started sewing these easy DIY reusable hand warmers.
Supplies for DIY Hand Warmers
- 1-2 Old Flannel Shirts (or just the sleeves)
- 2 cups of Dry Rice or Beans Per Hand Warmer
I was able to scrounge around and find 3 flannel shirts that had seen better days. One had a hole near the pocket, another had an oil stain and the last one was just a hideous orange that no one was willing to wear (mine–why did I buy that?!). You can actually make 1-2 hand warmers from each shirt sleeve, but I went with just one because I wanted each person in the family to have their own color.
For the DIY reusable hand warmers, you’ll also need 2 cups of dry rice or dry beans for every hand warmer you want to make. I’m not sure how well any other material would work, but I have used both of these in the past for neck warmers and they work great, retaining a lot of heat and keeping me toasty.
Oh, and the tools? Yeah, you’re going to want: a pair of scissors, a funnel (with a wide-enough spigot to let out the rice or beans through easily) and needle & thread. I used a sewing machine because I already had it out for another project. But you could sew this by hand very easily.
Now, onto the actual DIY reusable hand warmers project that is way simpler than you would expect.
DIY Reusable Hand Warmers
First, you want to cut off the end of one sleeve, cutting far enough back to be behind the sleeve and open area the button is meant to close.
Next, you’ll need to cut an additional section off about 4-6 inches from the first cut you just made. This should leave you with a piece of fabric in the shape of a short open-ended tube.
With that in hand, turn this tube inside out and pin one end of it closed.
Sew that pinned end up, being sure to go all the way from one end to the other, sealing it completely–it would be awful if some rice snuck out through a hole in the corner.
Pin the other end of the tube closed for ½ of the opening and sew that half. If you’re using a sewing machine, be sure to remind yourself NOT to keep going past that halfway point so that you still have an opening in that side to fill the DIY reusable hand warmers with rice or beans.
Through that little opening, you left, turn the tube right side out.
Open that hole you left and, using a funnel, pour your rice or beans into the hand warmer. Now, I know I said 1-2 cups, but if you want more so that your hand warmer is bulkier, go for it. Or, obviously, if you want less, they’re your hand warmers, you do what you want. But I was going for a light enough bean bag (because that’s what this effectively is) that the kids wouldn’t mind it being in their pocket for little hikes, but also not so light that the rice didn’t fill my hand. For me, these DIY reusable hand warmers need to have enough rice for warmth but not too bulky.
Next, just fold the edges of the unsewn section inside the pouch and pin this in place.
You’ll want to sew a hem along this pinned opening that intersects with your original hem, again, to keep the rice from falling out. And, if you’re using a sewing machine, you’re going to want to be VERY CAREFUL that your rice and needle don’t come into contact as it could potentially break your needle. You could use the Ladder Stitch to seal it up by hand with no seams showing.
Now it’s time to trim strings and get those hands warmed up with your reusable hand warmers! To use these easy flannel hand warmers, just heat each one in the microwave for 30-seconds, or in the oven for 5 minutes at 350-degrees. I like to think the DIY reusable hand warmers are a great tool for anyone living in an RV or that spends a lot of time outdoors in the winter like hunters or fishermen.
These could be really handy, too, if your kids stand out in the cold waiting for the school bus. Because there’s nothing weird in them, having them in their backpack should be no problem. Oh and, one thing to note that I think you need to know is that I recommend making adult hand warmers by using adult flannel shirts. And for kid hand warmers, use children’s shirts. The adult shirts have bigger arms and the kids’ shirts have smaller, so it just makes sense.
One of the things I like best about this project is the fact that the kids CAN get involved. Yeah, sure spilling rice everywhere while you’re pouring it into a beanbag is messy with little kids, but how else are they going to learn? Plus they will learn how the DIY reusable hand warmers were made. And although they might not be ready to use the sewing machine, even a 4-year-old can help pull pins from a hem. This is a great kid-parent project that they will definitely be proud to have helped make!
I am going to make a few of these to give as gifts as one can never have too many hand warmers. If you love this easy DIY reusable hand warmers project, be sure to pin this to your favorite sewing or crafts board so you can find it quickly later!
DIY Hand Warmers
DIY reusable hand warmers that are easy to make with an old flannel shirt.
- Flannel Shirts or Sleeves
- Sewing Machine
- Cut off the end of one sleeve, cutting far enough back to be behind the sleeve and open area the button is meant to close.
- Cut an additional section off about 4-6 inches from the first cut you just made. This should leave you with a piece of fabric in the shape of a short open-ended tube.
- Turn this tube inside out.
- Pin one end of the tube closed and sew this end.
- Pin the other end of the tube closed except for ½ of the opening.
- Sew this end, leaving ½ of the opening un-sewn.
- Turn the tube right-side out.
- Using a funnel, pour rice or beans into the hand warmer.
- Fold the edges of the unsewn section inside and pin in place.
- Sew a hem along this pinned opening that intersects with your original hem.
- Trim strings.
- Enjoy your DIY Hand Warmers!
To use: Heat in the microwave for 30-seconds or in the oven for 5 minutes at 350-degrees.
To make adult hand warmers, it is recommended that you use adult flannel shirts. For kid hand warmers, use children’s shirts.
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