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I have been making these rice filled flannel frog warmers for several years, and they are one of my all-time favorite items to make (and use!) A little backstory on these guys: when I was a wee middle school girl growing up in super chilly rural Nebraska, one of the things I wanted most was a heated electric blanket to warm me up in the cold winter months. One year for Christmas, my parents bought one for me. It was AMAZING! I was on cloud nine, but only for a hot minute. I soon realized that I would not be able to keep using it. Why? Well, basically because of diabetes.
As some of you may know, I have had type 1 diabetes for most of my life. But what most of you probably *don’t* know is that heat can drop a blood sugar like nobody’s business. When my blood sugar is high, a hot shower can be just the ticket to bring my levels back to normal. However, having a warm blanket envelop me as I drifted off to sleep was just a recipe for disaster. It was consistently dropping my sugar to dangerously low levels, so I had to give it up. I was so bummed! And cold! But then my mom had a great idea: she made me a frog shaped flannel rice pack that I could heat in the microwave before bed to use as a foot warmer. It was perfect! It was just the right amount of heat to warm me up before bed, but it wasn’t so much that it dropped my blood sugar levels.
So that is the little story of where these guys originated. I use them nearly every night in the winter months to keep my feet warm, I use them every month to combat the lovely “that-time-of-the-month” cramps, and I also use them to soothe sore and achy muscles after weight lifting and/or quilting. (Quilting can sure do a number on my shoulders!) I mainly use these by microwaving them for 2-3 minutes, but they can also be put in the freezer to use as a cold pack as well.
I wanted to make a quick tutorial so that you all can make your own frog flannel rice packs. They also make excellent gifts. This last Christmas I gifted these to my daughter’s preschool teachers and daycare provider. So, without further ado, here is how to make your own!
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Note: I almost always use flannel sheets from Target or Amazon to make these guys. More specifically, the pillowcases from these sets. I usually buy a sheet set and use the pillowcases for these type of projects and save the flat/fitted sheets to back quilts in.
Flannel pillowcase OR 1/2 yard flannel material OR (2) fat quarters of flannel (appox. 18″x21″ each.)
Printable template of frog (link found at bottom of blog post)
Freezer paper (optional)
Fabric scissors (these are my favorite ever)
Buttons for the eyes (these wooden ones have been my favorite lately)
Approx. 6 cups of white rice
Pencil with eraser
Needle + thread
First, print your frog template. CLICK HERE to download the PDF template. He was too large to put on one page, so you’ll print the top and bottom half separately, cut out both pages, and then tape them together where the solid black dashes meet. He is already slightly asymmetrical and rustic looking, so don’t worry about getting this part perfect.
This next step is optional, however I do recommend it if you are planning on making more than one of these frogs. The freezer paper will allow you to fold up the template for storage and then iron out the wrinkles later on before making another frog. If you are doing this step, then just trace the printer paper template that you just taped together onto freezer paper and cut that out with your paper scissors.
Now, take your flannel fabric and fabric marking pen and trace around your template. You want to make sure that the two sections of whatever you’re using are WRONG SIDES TOGETHER when you’re tracing around the template (as demonstrated below.)
Once you’ve traced around the template, I find it useful to place a few quilting/sewing pins inside the frog shape to hold both layers in place while you cut along the line you traced.
After your two pieces have been cut out, you will want to sew on the button eyes onto one of the pieces before continuing on. I usually just eyeball (ha, pun sort of intended) the placement of the buttons. Keep in mind you will be sewing with a 3/8″-1/2″ seam allowance, so you’ll want to place the buttons further up to account for the seam allowance. The photo below demonstrates where I generally place and sew my buttons. If you’re not familiar with how to sew on buttons, it’s very easy. HERE is a great YouTube video demonstrating how to do this.
Once you’ve sewn your button eyes on, place both pieces RIGHT SIDES TOGETHER and pin around the edges. You’ll want to leave an opening a few inches in diameter that you will NOT machine stitch (as demonstrated in the photo below.) You will use this opening to turn the project ride side out in a later step.
Sew around the frog with a straight stitch and relatively short stitch length (I usually do around 2.0-2.2 on my Janome) and using a 3/8″-1/2″ seam allowance, making sure to leave an opening to turn the project later (as shown in the photo above.) After you’ve stitched around the frog with a straight stitch, reinforce your straight stitch with a tight zig zag stitch. This step is optional, but I always try to make the frogs as strong as possible since the rice adds some weight and stress to the seams. You could also stitch a second straight stitch if your machine doesn’t have zig zag capabilities.
After you’re finished sewing your seams, take your fabric scissors and snip the fabric up to the seam line (making sure you don’t actually cut the seams) to ensure the seam lays nicely once the project has been turned right side out.
Turn, Turn, Turn
Now it’s time to turn the frog right side out. I find that a pencil with an eraser does a great job of turning along the seams to make sure everything lays nice. Place your pencil (eraser facing the inside of the frog) into the opening you’ve left and run the eraser along the entire seam, taking special care with the feet and mouth.
Filling your frog
Now, the fun part! Take your funnel and rice and fill up your frog! I usually use six cups or so, but it’s completely personal preference on how full you would like your flannel rice pack to be.
Once you’ve filled your frog with rice, take some quilting pins and pin the opening of the frog closed. Hand stitch this opening closed with a needle and thread. I use an invisible stitch (also called a ladder stitch) and do it as tight as possible to make sure there is no rice spillage. I’ve been making these for 15+ years now and have never had a frog come open on me (knock on wood.) If you’re unfamiliar with how to do an invisible stitch, HERE is a good YouTube video.
And that’s it! You’re all set. How adorable are these guys?! I hope you love them as much as I do. To use the flannel rice pack, I put mine in the microwave for 2-3 minutes, depending on how hot I want it to be. (I usually do closer to 3 minutes if I’m putting it over my clothes for cramps and closer to 2 minutes if he will be on my bare toes as a foot warmer.) You can also stick them in the freezer to use as a cold pack. Enjoy!
And in case you missed the link for the template above, CLICK HERE to download the template to make your own frog flannel rice pack.
Until next time,