54. How to Make Hand Warmers

Make some reusable hand warmers to heat up in the microwave

This episode is subtitled: ‘Who is Jaz’s new man…?’

The business felt like it was getting back to normal this week. Our customer numbers in Tulips have gone back up after the post-Christmas lull and it’s calmed down a bit in Teacups now that most people are back at work. The only complaint is that us florists have had to add a layer or two to cope with the drop in temperature and the biting wind that’s been whistling through the open door, whilst our colleagues in the tea room have just closed their door and turned their heating up a notch to keep everyone cosy. January and February are very testing months for florists.

As I said, things were ticking along quite nicely – that was, until yesterday. We had a large funeral order so Jaz and I spent most of Tuesday preparing the arrangements and after a long day, we agreed to come in early to check them over, pack them into the van and I would take them across town to the funeral director for 9am, leaving Jaz to open up properly.

We arrived at the same time, shivering against the arctic conditions (okay, I may be exaggerating a bit but it was VERY chilly). I fumbled with the key in my cold hands but it wouldn’t turn in the lock. I tried it another couple of times, conscious of my looming deadline.

‘Is is the right key?’ Jaz asked, so I took it out to show her the single key on the tassel key ring to prove to her it was the right one. The truth was, it had been a bit temperamental lately but nothing that couldn’t be sorted by gently wiggling it about. Never before had it failed to open the door.

I had another frantic jiggle with it in the lock, willing it to turn so I could get those funeral flowers loaded into the van and on their way. Time was ticking and if I didn’t get on the road within the next few minutes I’d not only have the work rush hour traffic to contend with but I’d be caught up in school traffic as well. Oh, my goodness – what would happen if I didn’t get those flowers to the funeral director on time?

‘Is the lock frozen?’ she ventured. Ah, she might have a point there so I ran to the van to grab some antifreeze. I squirted some in and crossed my fingers. Still the key wouldn’t budge.

I could see the flowers through the window; I just couldn’t get to them. The thought of a grieving family attending a funeral with none of the final tributes they’d ordered for their loved one was making me feel sick and the more seconds that ticked by, the more nauseous I got.

‘Do you need any help, ladies?’ It was the man with the kind face who I’d seen wink at Jaz last week. That’s a coincidence.

‘Hi, Darren. We’re locked out,’ said Jaz, a bit more nonchalantly than I’d have expected under these very stressful circumstances.

‘And and we need to get some funeral flowers delivered,’ I blurted out, pacing up and down past the door, wondering who I should ring.

‘Let me see what I can do,’ he said and he pulled some sort of tool out from the inside pocket of his coat. A hammer would have scared me but I’d have let him break the window if it got us in. However, this was a small gadget, maybe a Swiss army knife or something like that, which he used in the lock and (ha, success!) about 10 seconds later we were in the shop picking up the arrangements and heading out to the van with them.

‘Thank you!’ I called out through the open window as I set off with, what I felt like, just enough time to get there without the funeral director starting to panic.

I could have cried with relief but instead I turned the radio volume up and screeched along to ’I should be so lucky’ as I sailed through green light after green light. Thank you Kylie, it was just what I needed to celebrate my good fortune. The flowers were safely delivered at nine minutes past nine, a whole minute before the cortege was due to set off, and the panic was over. Phew.

But then I had a thought.

How come ‘Darren’ had managed to get into a locked shop in less than 10 seconds without a key? Who is he anyway?

I arrived back at Tulips in a more sober mood and decided I should tackle Jaz there and then.

‘Oh, he’s really cool, Jenny. He’s gadget-mad so I’m not surprised he had something that would do the trick. You were really lucky weren’t you?’

At that point I was feeling more nervous than lucky so I rang a locksmith and paid a fortune to have a substantial new lock fitted that day which I was assured was ‘state of the art’ and burglar-proof.

Why can’t she meet a nice straight-forward man? Actually, it’s really none of my business so I told myself to let it lie. After all, surely she’s sensible enough not to fall for a burglar and surely any burglar is sensible enough to know there’s not much swag in a flower shop! So we chatted about chilblains and frostbite while we tested out the hand warmers I’d made for this week’s creative project.

‘What does he do for a living, Jaz?’ I couldn’t help myself.

‘I’m not sure, really,’ she replied. ‘He calls himself a free spirit.’

Oh, good grief…

salvagebox.co.uk - Blue's pawI could have done with these hand warmers while I was fumbling with the dodgy lock yesterday, although the microwave (for heating them up) was on the inside of the door that wouldn’t open, together with the funeral flowers!

As we increase our layers against the dipping temperatures I’m always tempted to keep hold of old tops, even when they are way past their best, but after some deliberation over just how bad the holes were, I decided to sacrifice this one and make something useful out of it.

Make some reusable hand warmers to heat up in the microwave

Make some reusable hand warmers to heat up in the microwave

I cut out four squares for my pair of hand warmers, about 9cm each. I made sure I avoided the holes completely because there will be rice in these pouches which must have no means of escape. I also routed out some grosgrain ribbon from my salvage box that had been used to bundle some fat quarters together. I’ve accumulated quite a lot of this ribbon from my Hobbycraft fat quarter purchases but any ribbon will do.

Make some reusable hand warmers to heat up in the microwave

I cut a loop for each hand warmer so it can be hooked over a thumb or finger. Cut enough ribbon to make your loop and for there to be a centimetre or two at each end inside the bag (my ribbon was 12 centimetres for each bag). I made a tiny pencil mark on the ribbon at the point I wanted it to emerge from the seam. This made it easier to pin into position and meant that I could ensure the loops on each hand warmer matched. Don’t forget that the loop needs to be pinned on the inside because you’re sewing the bag inside out.

Pin the squares, right sides together. I also put a pin lengthways into the loop to keep it out of the way of the seams.

Make some reusable hand warmers to heat up in the microwave

Then stitch all round the square, leaving a gap of a few centimetres in the middle of one row (chose one without the ribbon).

Then turn it right way out before adding the rice. My gap was very small so I made a paper funnel to feed the rice in. You don’t need to fill it with rice, use just enough to make a floppy pouch like a bean bag.

Make some reusable hand warmers to heat up in the microwave

Hand stitch the gap and there you are!

Make some reusable hand warmers to heat up in the microwave

Make some reusable hand warmers to heat up in the microwave

Make some reusable hand warmers to heat up in the microwave

And here they are on a plate ready to go into the microwave. Play around until you work out what temperature and timing works best. I used 600w for 30 seconds.

Make some reusable hand warmers to heat up in the microwave


  • I don’t think it matters where you put the loop but it looks better if they match each other.
  • You might get some more inspiration from Little Yellow Couch.

Salvaged Items:

  • Old t-shirt
  • Grosgrain ribbon from fat quarters

These hand warmers are just the thing when there isn’t a steaming cup of tea handy and you want to feel cosy. Hope you enjoy having a go.



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2 thoughts on “54. How to Make Hand Warmers

  1. I wish I had looked at this on Thursday then I would have had time to make them before watching my son’s match this afternoon. This looks like a very useful item and seems quick and simple to make. It will be interesting to see how long they stay warm for.

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