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Friday, November 14, 2014

Over the Shoulder Rice Bag Tutorial

Here is a quick little tutorial to create one of these marvelous rice bags.
I'm a visual person, so there are lots of photos,
but please read all the directions before you start.

I started out with a piece of paper 12" tall and 16" wide.
I folded it in half and marked a neckline, approximately 6 1/2" wide by 5 1/2" deep. 
I just "winged" it when it came to rounding the neckline, but on the outside edges I traced around a coffee cup.

Here is a photo of my pattern on a cutting mat, so you can get a general idea of the measurements.

I then took a double layer of pre-shrunk muslin (although your not going to ever wash this)
and laid it in between my outside fabrics. You want the right sides facing up on the top and down on the mat. Pin together and cut all 4 layers at once. With the muslin already inside, you won't have to move the fabrics in your stack.

Remove your pattern piece, and pin all the way around the outside edges of your bag.
 This will keep things from shifting as you stitch.
Once your all pinned, you will want to mark your first stitching line about 1/4+ below the lowest point of your neckline. 
 You can see a faint white mark in the photo above. I used a chalk marker. Stitch from side to side making sure you back tack each end.
From there, you are going to want to work your way up from that line, stitching rows  approximately 1 1/2" apart. You can remove the pins as you go. It's easy to keep your lines straight, as the ruler lines up with the straight sides. I stitch a row then draw another line, then stitch a row, draw another line, etc etc.
On this top part, I stitched 2 more rows. (creating 3 tubes) The outer most tube is a little wider, and when you have to add the binding a little later, you will be glad it is! :-)
 Once you have worked your way up to the top, you start working your way down. Same 1 1/2" rows.

Before we can fill these rows with rice, we need to stitch a line around the top (I've put a pin so you can see approximately where to start and stop) You want to give yourself enough room to insert a funnel tip when filling with rice. Stitch right around the top, from one shoulder, around the neck and to the other shoulder.  At this point I fill each of the top tubes with rice...nothing fancy, just what's in your cupboard.
 Stitch the top of each tube closed, as you go.
Word to the wise...you are going to want to leave at least 2-2 1/2" room at the top of each tube, or you will never get the binding stitched on later!
Don't ask me how I know!
Once both shoulders are filled and stitched you can stitch down one side, and across the bottom coming up the side a bit just like we did on the top. Fill all your rows, stitching each one closed as you go. Your almost there.

Binding time.
For this, you are going to need biased binding. We have a lot of curves to go around. I cut mine,  2 1/2" wide, pressed it in half wrong sides together, and attach like I would any quilt, but since we have the bulk of rice, I suggest starting with a 45% angle and press under a 1/4", like shown below.
I've had to re-enact this, so please bear with me.
I used some scrap to show you. Don't let it confuse you. We are binding the actual bag filled with rice, not what was cut away.

Stitch down the bottom half of the binding, then leave open a little (as shown above). This will allow for tucking the opposite end in, once the binding is all stitched in place.  
Stitch around the entire piece with a 1/4" seam allowance.
Then tuck in the tail and stitch in place.
This is what it will look like when your done.
 You can whip stitch the ends together along the seam. Fold over and hand finish your binding.

Take your time in stitching the binding. You will have to start and stop, taking it out of your machine and shaking the rice to different places at times. I learned the hard way,  the joys of over filling.
I also experimented with running a basting stitch about 5/8" in, before filling with rice. After machine stitching on the binding you can remove that basting row before you hand stitch it down. It actually worked out pretty well.

Your all done. Pop that little guy into the microwave for 1 minutes then sit back and enjoy!

On that note...my youngest asked me to make him one to replace his tube sock full of rice.
Now that's a picture in my mind I'm not sure I want to see!

So I broke out my special stash of Alexander Henry fabrics...

One for "the boy" and one to go into someones Christmas stocking!

I have tried to cover things the best I could. If you find you have problems or spot errors, please do not hesitate to contact me. 


  1. This looks like something I could use! Thanks for the great tute.

  2. I just have a rectangular rice bag right now,but it always slides off my shoulder. Thanks so much for the tutorial,I am going to make me a new one soon!

  3. This is great! Thanks for sharing. I sure can use one or two.

  4. I keep thinking I want to make myself one of these. I bet it would help a whole lot on my sore neck... yours look awesome.... Great tutorial.. Thanks for taking the time to share your work with us!!
    I was given a large bag of Lavender while I was in WA. I am going to use some of it in pinkeeps. The rest.... not penciled its use out yet.
    Do you think it and Walnut shells would make a good stuffing for this? I have even thought about purchasing the expensive stuff they use in making the one you purchase at the stores. Thank you for your sweet post on the blog. You made me smile!!!

  5. Mine is on my shoulders as I type!!! I've had mine for 5 years - gift from daughter :) Rice is definitely the right filler - not minute rice, the regular stuff. The edge on mine was surged, so that works as well! I'm going to make these for Christmas next year using your tutorial!!

  6. Thanks Joan for the great tutorial! Great choice of fabric, haha!!!

  7. Great tutorial. I need to make a few of these for gifts. Thank you.

  8. Very nice tutorial. Thank you very much for sharing. Looks a bit fiddly (read scary) but I am going to try. Hopefully it won't be so bad when I start. Thanks again.

  9. Joan, I got a friend I didn't know what to make for her. This is perfect. I really want to thank you for the binding tip. I have not put but a few bindings on and this will make them neater and easier for me. Thanks for the tutorial.

  10. Boy, do I wish I had one right now to use!! My shoulders have been aching. The tut sounds clear; thank you so much. LOVE the fabric you used for yours. Really, who wouldn't want a hot-lookin Santa like that around the shoulders!!

  11. I've been looking for one of these! Love all the photos in your tutorial! Thanks!

  12. I am recovering from shoulder surgery and this looks like just the ticket! Considering a slight modification....making the two sides longer to reach around the neck to Velcro or a tie to keep it on, then wearing it spun sideways over my surgical shoulder/arm.


Thanks for stopping by today. Your comments really do make me day!