The kids are in bed. The dishes done. Those rogue marbles and errant junk-box items – missed in the night time clean-up session – have been safely stowed away, ready for another days play. As I collapse into my comfy and familiar possie in the corner of our living room and gather up my ball of yarn, I take a moment to revel in happy memories about the day and in the salubrious state that is total and utter boredom. Ahhh….pure bliss!
And then it comes…
It starts in the toes. Then the fingers. Invisible tendrils. Squeezing. Gripping. Strangling. Slowly at first and then faster, faster, faster, until eventually I am engorged. Not even those moccasins and that trusty red down-jacket can help me now. The voracious appetite of the early winter chill has swallowed the last of my knitting and pod-cast listening enthusiasm, leaving me in a helpless plight of moral confusion…
Do I retreat to the comfort of that eco-friendly, double strength woolen duvet…or do I hit that big, red “HEAT ON” button?
Keeping warm in winter can sometimes be expensive business. Both on the wallet and on the “minimum-energy-use” conscience. During my teenage years, when a typical boarding-school day also included an additional three and a half hours slogging it out in a pool, a very generous and dedicated mother-away-from-home mentor, Pat, gave me Heat Bear: a wheat bag in the shape of a teddy bear. For many a swimming year (and beyond) later, my much loved night-time cuddle friend would keep me plenty warm. Especially on those cooler evenings following a particularly grueling winter-water workout session.
Twenty five years later and the bear lives on. He has no nose. The wheat has been replaced many times over. And the outer fabric – loved off from hours of snuggles – has recently been revamped using an old pair of K2’s trousers. Nevertheless, Heat Bear continues to remain a special item in our home.
Recently, as the wall calendar flipped into June and condensation began to pool at the base of the icy-cold, bedroom windows, the oldest of my sustainability focused, at-home learners, K1, took to the sewing machine for some energy saving stitching work. Inspired by Heat Bear’s contribution toward reducing our planet warming footprint, I present to you the instructions for making your very own Heat Bag and Cover.
Old cotton shirts (free of synthetic fibres…as they have a tendency to melt)
Old flannelette pajamas or felted woolen jumpers
Sewing essentials (pins, thread etc.)
1 kg oat grouts or whole wheat
Using scrap paper, create a rectangular template 24 cm wide by 27 cm long. Pin the template onto an old cotton shirt, cut around the shape. Repeat this three more times. Place all four rectangles of fabric together. The two inside rectangles need to have their right sides (the sides you wish to see) facing each other. Using a ¾ inch seam allowance, sew around the outside of the rectangles. Leave a hole (approximately 5 cm wide) on one side. This is where the bag is to be filled.
Trim the seam allowance to ¼ inch and then truncate the corners. Turn the bag inside out through the hole ensuring that the two inside rectangles now face outwards. Roll out the corners and edges.
Using a funnel, fill the bag with oat groats or wheat. Top stitch the hole closed.
For ease of washing and for good hygiene, it is best to also make a cover. Using scrap paper, create a template 72 cm in length and 27 cm wide. Sew together strips of flannelette/felted wool fabric to create a length large enough for the template. Place the template on top. Pin. Cut around the outside of the template. Fold over 1 cm of fabric at either end (short ends). Fold again and press. Sew the hems closed.
Lay the fabric out on the table, right side down. Place the bag into the middle of the fabric. The longest length of the bag should be parallel to the shortest length of the cover fabric strip. Fold the fabric over the bag at one end and bring it up ¾ of the way along the bag. Pin the long edges. Repeat at the other end ensuring that you remove the bag before pinning.
Sew the edges closed using a ¾ inch seam allowance. Trim the seams to ¼ inch then overcast the edge. Turn the cover inside out. Place the bag inside. Done!
Now it’s time to nuke the bag (for 4 minutes in the microwave with ¼ – ½ cup water), turn down the night-time heating dial and snuggle up to your new, heart and conscience warming friend.