DIY Animal Silhouette Heating Pillow – Simple Sewing Project

Simple, frugal gift for kids - thoughtful, serves a purpose, and doesn't break the bank.

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I needed a thoughtful gift for my daughter’s classmates birthday party. And because I don’t know the child very well and the parent told me not to worry about a gift, I had nothing to go on.  Unfortunately, my 3.5 year old was not much help either. I decided that I needed a thoughtful, useful gift, that I could put together relatively quickly with the materials I had on hand.

I decided to make a Rice-Filled Owl Heating Pillow, using half a fat quarter, an old flannel pillow case, and some rice.

Simple, frugal gift for kids - thoughtful, serves a purpose, and doesn't break the bank.
Simple, frugal gift for kids – thoughtful, serves a purpose, and doesn’t break the bank.

Because this was a quick project, I don’t have any good pictures of the process, just the final result. But it was a pretty easy project, even for a novice with the sewing machine like myself.

Procedure – How I made a Rice-Filled Owl Heating Pad Gift


  1. 8.5″ by 11″ piece of paper to create template – I used card stock so it was didn’t fold as I traced it
  2. Outer fabric – I used about half of a fat quarter I had at the house
  3. Inner lining – I used an old flannel pillow-case
  4. 2 two-inch fabric circles – I used the same old flannel pillow-case as my inner lining
  5. 2-3 cups of rice – to fill the pillow

The entire process took me about 20 minutes, including the time to set up the sewing machine. First I drew and cut out my owl pattern onto card stock. I then placed the template onto my fabric and cut out two owls from my outer fabric and two owl from my inner fabric. I also cut out circles for the eyes. These I positioned on one of the outer fabric pieces and then stitched around it with a dark thread. I used the same thread to sew a small circle into the center of the eyes as well as the outline of a beak.

Then I ironed all 4 owl fabric pieces and put them together into a sandwich, with my outer fabric’s right sides facing each other in the middle of the ‘sandwich’ and with the flannel inner lining making up the outside. I then using my sewing machine to sew around 3 and a half sides of the  owl, leaving about a 2 inch gap at the bottom. Then I carefully inverted the owl, now ready to be filled.

Using a funnel, I added about 2 cups of uncooked, white rice to fill my owl. I used white rice because I had it available, but I’ve used lentils as well. Then I folded over the fabric and sewed shut the opening. Be careful not to fill the animal too full, otherwise it is difficult to sew shut.

An Extension & Customization Ideas

The simple nature of this project means it could done for any animal outline. I am already planning a cat heating pad for myself and a dinosaur for the next birthday.

Because you will probably have both rice and fabric left over, consider making 4″ by 4″ little rice “ice” packs to match.

Overall, this was a very successful little project that will hopefully get some good use. Now I have to make a few more, as the birthdays just seem to keep coming.

Have you or your child given or received any homemade gifts that thoughtful and useful?

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2 thoughts on “DIY Animal Silhouette Heating Pillow – Simple Sewing Project”

  • WooT! I adore these and in the process of making some right now. For my family in the hotter states can they put them in the freezer OR is it the fridge to cool?
    Thanks so much 🙂

    • Sorry for the delayed reply – I have made little ones that I keep in the freezer. They make a great ice-packs for those small bumps and bruises or just as a quick way to cool off in the summer.

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