Tutorial: Make these citrus handwarmers

These handwarmers will keep your hands toasty on a cold winter's day, and the bright citrus gives a hint of the summer to revive your spirits.

It’s still pretty cold outside in the mornings here, so I made my daughter some handwarmers to keep her warm on the way to school. You might have seen patterns for these around the internet (for example these simple square ones or these cute heart woollen handwarmers) – my citrus versions remind me that spring and summer will come again – eventually!

They’re quick and easy to make, and it’s pretty straightforward to adapt to your own design. In this post, I’ll describe how to make my citrus handwarmers; in a later post I’ll show you how to adapt them to your own design.


  • 25cmx25cm (10″x10″) cotton
  • 30cmx25cm (12″x10″) fleece
  • felt scraps
  • approximately 2oz (50g) uncooked long-grain rice

Download the citrus handwarmers pattern pieces.

Design Notes

You can make these just with the one layer, but I’ve chosen to make the rice-filled pouch separately out of cotton, so the outer fleece layer is easily changed or washed. Using two layers has the added advantage of adding more insulation so it will keep warm for longer.

I’ve used fleece for the outer layer, as it’s readily available in lots of different colours (my stash seems to be growing by the minute), it keeps the warmth well and it doesn’t fray. You could use other fabrics if you want – felt or flannel would be good warm choices. You could even use a pretty quilting cotton – the double layer will provide some insulation, although they won’t keep warm for quite as long.

Instructions to Make Handwarmers

  1. Cut two squares from the cotton and place right sides together. draw round the inner circle template and sew round the outline, leaving gap for turning.
    You can use a water-soluble pen or some such if you like, but this is just the inner pouch so if you use pencil it won’t matter too much.
    I prefer to sew the two squares together, and then cut back the seam allowance afterwards as it’s far easier than trying to sew tricky circles together with narrow seam allowances.

    Trace the circle onto the cotton squares and sew round, leaving a turning gap.

  2. Trim close to the stitching, and clip curves.
    If you’ve got them, the easiest way to do this is to use pinking shears. Leave a slightly larger seam allowance around the turning gap.

    Trim the seam allowance and clip curves, leaving a little extra seam allowance at the gap.

  3. Turn to the right side, fill about three-quarters full with uncooked rice and stitch the gap closed.
    I filled mine with about 1oz (25g) of rice – you want it slightly floppy, like a bean bag. You can make a small paper funnel by bending a corner of paper into a cone and snipping off the end.

    Finished inner pouches for handwarmers.

  4. Turn over the straight edge on the two back pieces of fleece and stitch down.
    Only turn this hem over once; it won’t fray as it’s made of fleece, and folding twice will make it too bulky.
    Fold over the straight edges on the back fleece pieves and sew down.
  5. Cut out six inner segments from felt, and curve the corners slightly. Position on the front circle and stitch round the edges of the felt with a narrow zigzag.
    Don’t sew the inner segments to close to the outside stitching line; leave at least 2cm (3/4″) from the raw edge.

    Sew the felt inner segments with a narrow zigzag.

  6. Place the front right side up, and place the two back pieces right side down on top, so the straight edges are horizontal and overlap.
    Place the front right side up, and the two back pieces right side down, overlapping at the straight edges.
  7. Sew round the whole circle 1cm from the edges. Trim and clip round the curves on all layers.
    Trim and cip curves, then turn right side out.
  8. Turn to right side, and insert the inner pouch. Repeat to make a second handwarmer.


To use:

Remove the inner pouches and pop them in the microwave for around 30-50 seconds. Insert them inside the fleece outers and pop them in a pocket, or inside a glove to keep warm.

I’ve read that rice bags like this can dry your microwave out and ruin it; if this is something that worries you just place a glass of water in the microwave at the same time. (Or you can take your chances, like I did – my microwave’s not ruined yet!).

These are quick and easy to make, so you can whip up different designs for everyone in the family.

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