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Bags of comfort

Use a few simple materials to craft this hot or cold aromatic neck bag and eye pillow.

Craft and styling: Sarah Heeringa. Photography: Amanda Reelick

Neck pillow

You will need 

For the inner bag 

  • Unbleached calico or other basic white fabric cut into a strip 28cm x 68cm.

For the washable outer bag

  • Your choice of fabric cut into 3 pieces: 74cm x 18cm, 35cm x 18cm and 64cm x 18cm. 
  • Iron 
  • Raw whole wheat grains or uncooked rice to use as filling — wheat is commonly used as chicken food so can be bought at hardware stores and some supermarkets.   
  • Sewing machine  
  • Matching cotton thread
  • Scissors 
  • Sewing pins 
  • Essential oil of lavender or eucalyptus

Step by step

To make the inner bag

Step 1: Use unbleached calico or other basic white fabric. Cut a 28cm x 68cm strip (this can vary depending on the size of the bag you wish to make). 

Step 2: Fold over one of the shorter ends by 2cm and iron it flat. Laying the folded edges facing outwards, fold the rectangle of fabric together lengthwise. 

Step 3: Use an overlocking stitch or straight seam and zigzag to sew around three sides, leaving the end with the folded edges open. 

Step 4: Turn the bag the right way out and fill with wheat or rice grains. Pin the folded end closed. 

Step 5: Lay the bag flat and pin two seams to form three sections of bag. Check that each section of the bag is filled with the right amount of wheat or rice so that it rests comfortably on your shoulders. Adjust as necessary. Carefully sew along the pinned lines and trim any loose threads to complete. 

To make the washable outer bag 

Step 6: Cut the fabric into 3 strips: 74cm x 18cm, 35cm x 18cm and 64cm x 18cm.  

Step 7: Lay the longer piece out flat. Fold an end of each of the two shorter pieces with a generous fold of around 5cm and over again so that when you lay these two pieces out (overlapping at the folded end) they are the same length as the longer piece of fabric. Lay the two shorter pieces on top of the longer piece. Pin and then sew them together around the edges. 

Step 8: Use an overlocking stitch or straight seam and zigzag to sew around all sides. Trim any threads and turn the bag the right way around to complete. 

Step 9: Sprinkle the inner bag with essential oil and place inside the outer bag. 

Eye pillow

You will need 

  • A piece of paper or fabric scrap to cut into a template

For the inner bag

  • Unbleached calico or other basic white fabric cut into 2 pieces each measuring 20cm x 10cm. Light blocking calico is ideal to use. 

For the washable outer bag

  • Your choice of fabric cut into 2 pieces, each measuring 20cm x 10cm
  • Iron 
  • Raw whole wheat grains or uncooked rice to use as filling 
  • Sewing machine 
  • Matching cotton 
  • Scissors 
  • Sewing pins 
  • Essential oil of lavender or eucalyptus 

Step by step

Step 1: Cut the piece of paper or fabric scrap into a 20cm x 10cm shape. Round it at the sides and cut a rounded v in the middle to go over the bridge of your nose. When you are happy with the shape, cut your fabric out into 4 pieces, each one measuring 20cm x 10cm (two pieces for the inner bag and two pieces for the outer bag).

To make the inner bag

Step 2: Pin the 2 pieces of inner bag fabric together and use an overlocking stitch or straight seam and zigzag to sew around the curved sides and leaving the straight edges open. Turn the bag the right way out. Fold the straight edges inwards and iron them flat. 

Step 3: Fill the bag with wheat or rice grains and check it is the right amount so that the bag sits comfortably on your face when you are lying down. Pin the flap closed and carefully sew along this seam. Trim any loose threads.  

To make the washable outer bag

Step 4: Take the outer fabric and zigzag along the two straight edges of each. 

Step 5: Place the 2 fabric pieces facing inwards and pin together. Use an overlocking stitch or straight seam and zigzag to sew around the curved sides and halfway along the two straight sides leaving a small opening. 

Step 6: Turn the bag the right way out. Fold the straight edges inwards and iron them flat. Trim any loose threads to complete.

Step 7: Place a few drops of essential oil on the inner bag and place it inside the outer bag. See page 22 for how to use essential oils safely.

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