DIY Hand Warmers from Flannel Shirts

DIY Hand Warmers from Flannel Shirts

I have a confession to make: Once I made my Fall Table Runner, I became completely obsessed with making more projects with flannel fabric. I’ll go ahead and apologize now because after a few weeks, you may be rolling your eyes at me. I decided that my next project should be a scrap buster, as I had several flannel shirts that needed more upcycling. So, why not make some DIY hand warmers for a fun and easy upcycling idea?

As we all know by now, I spent the past summer scavenging my local thrift shops for flannel shirts. And I ended up with a bunch of them! 

Flannel shirts for easy upcycling ideas

Important to note, I made sure each shirt was 100% cotton before purchasing.

Not only did I have lots of flannel shirts left over from my table runner project, but I ALSO wrote a book on flannel crafts!

Flannel craft ideas and projects

So, if you LOVE working with flannel, I hope you’ll check out my book. But in the mean time, let’s get to the tutorial for DIY hand warmers!

This post contains affiliate links for your crafting convenience. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. All blue, bold, and underlined text is a clickable link, either to a product or to a related post.

Upcycling Flannel Shirts as DIY Hand Warmers

First, I grabbed my thrift store flannel shirts and my fabric cutting tools (this set is FANTASTIC!).

Then, I proceeded to cut out dozens of small squares (4” and 5”) in sets of four (two squares per hand warmer, two hand warmers to make a pair).

Cutting out flannel squares for reusable hand warmers

After that, I ironed the flannel squares and pinned them together in pairs.

Squares of fabric from flannel shirts

Then it was time to break out my sewing machine.

I sewed all around three sides, starting and ending approximately 1” in on the 4th side, leaving an opening in the center.

Making the DIY hand warmers from flannel fabric

Then, I snipped of the corners at 45° angles. Doing this helps to remove excess fabric that can otherwise bunch up inside the DIY hand warmers.

Trimming the corners after sewing

After removing my pins, I turned the whole thing right-side out.

DIY hand warmers to be filled with rice

Next, it was time to fill the reusable hand warmers!

Finishing the Reusable Hand Warmers

Then, I used my craft funnels to fill each homemade hand warmer with plain white rice, about ¾ full.

Rice to go in the homemade hand warmers

Optional step- I also added a few drops of autumn-scented essential oils to the rice before finishing them up!

Essential oils for the reusable hand warmers

After that, I tucked in the raw edges of my DIY hand warmers and pinned it closed.

Closing up the DIY hand warmers

Lastly, I sewed them shut with teeny tiny whip stitches. And that was it!

How to make hand warmers from flannel shirts

DIY Hand Warmers from Flannel Shirts

These DIY hand warmers are SO easy to make and are the perfect scrap buster craft project. Especially when the weather is cold.

Homemade hand warmers

They’re also an easy sewing project for anyone who is just learning how to sew.

Instructions for heating: In a microwave, heat a pair up for 25-30 seconds until they are nice and toasty! They stay warm for a little while, just long enough to take the chill off of cold hands!

Reusable hand warmers

Is it weird that they also look like cozy Fall decor all piled in a bowl like this? They have a very hygge look to them…

How to make hand warmers

I hope you enjoyed this easy upcycling idea for flannel shirts! And again, please make sure you peruse my book, “Crafting with Flannel” by Sarah Ramberg, if you enjoy flannel craft projects!

Craft ideas for flannel shirts

It’s available to purchase online from:

And if you want even more repurposed flannel shirt project ideas, please check out this amazing collection of projects that will surely inspire you!

upcycled flannel shirts

Craft on!


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Sarah Ramberg is the owner of Sadie Seasongoods, a website that celebrates all things secondhand. From upcycling ideas and thrifted decor to vintage-centric travel itineraries, Sadie Seasongoods is a one-stop shop for anyone who loves thrifting and approachable repurposing ideas. Sarah is also the author of “Crafting with Flannel” and has been featured in numerous media outlets and magazines.


  1. Iv’e made both hot and cold sacks and hand warmers but never in flannel, I love the idea of using flannel, it is so much cosier than other fabrics. They look great and I’m sure people will love them 🙂 x

  2. These look so cute! I like the idea of them but how long do they actually stay warm?

  3. I won’t be rolling my eyes–there is not much I like more than flannel!

  4. These are adorable! I’m a sucker for anything plaid!

  5. My sister made me a set of solid colored handwamers several years ago. I loved them. I love the plaid!!!

  6. cynthial1956 says

    What a quick and easy idea. I think these would be the perfect Christmas gift!

  7. Oh! I love hand warmers ,and these are so cute in the flannel! Thanks for sharing it at the Vintage Inspiration Party. I pinned it to my “Spotted at the VIP board here –

  8. My hands are the first thing to feel the cold. If you handed me one of these I’d be so very impressed and grateful.

  9. Wonderful – I had actually been looking for wool sweaters at the goodwill to make some of these up but well, they are rare & hard to find here in nebraska! Great idea to use flannel instead!

  10. What a clever idea! When not warming hands, they can warm hearts just by looking at them piled in a bowl. You should link this post to the Tartan Parade over at Alison’s Polohouse.

  11. Cute idea! I love the way they look simply displayed in the bowl, too:)

  12. I love rice warmers!! What a great idea to use your leftover flannel to make these! Another great upcycle!!

  13. These are so cool! Not to mention useful and cute. Thanks for sharing this with us at Welcome Home Wednesday. I am pinning this for personal use =)

  14. Those are so cute just laying in the wood bowl also.
    I think the whole blogger world is looking for flannel LOL because even Joann fabrics here is out.
    Also I haven’t seen any flannel shirts at thrift store, guess I’ll start looking next summer after flannel season is over

  15. Quite awesome! And possibly easy enough for the world’s worst sewer (me)!

  16. You could make rectangles too, they could wrap around the back of a stiff neck or lay over a sore shoulder.

  17. I too, have scraps of flannel that I couldn’t bear to part with…thanks for the great idea! Have you ever put any essential oils or other smelly good stuff in with the rice? Might make your kitchen smell good while heating too! Pinning!

  18. Those look great! Awesome way to use up fabric leftovers!

  19. My sewing skills aren’t the greatest but I believe EVEN I can do this one . ?

  20. distresseddonna says

    Loving, pinning, sharing!

  21. These are so cute!
    I think I need to make some lavender sachets with plaid flannel — you have inspired me, Sarah!
    Thanks for sharing this great project.
    Alison 🙂

  22. The flannel hand warmers are super cute and I love the colours! I made them before for my girls little feet when in the strollers and it’s just the BEST when it’s cold! I love the flannel you used!

  23. Love theses! Thanks for joining in at Vintage Charm! xoKathleen

  24. Bonnie Jean says

    Love these! I’ve always got cold paws & with Winter coming on, this is a perfect idea! As suggested above, I have a big bag of lavender buds that I’m going to add maybe a tbsp. full to a couple of them to give it a try with the scent. I know my daughters and granddaughters would love it with the lavender scent! Thanks for sharing this with us! 🙂

    • Thanks, Bonnie- yes, lavender would be a great addition! Does lavender microwave well? I’ve never tried it…since I made these for a big party at a friend’s house, I decided against using essential oils in these…didn’t want to overwhelm her house/microwave with the fragrance!! 😉

  25. These would make great gifts! I love plaid and made a plaid garland yesterday for Christmas. I’m going to use my plaid thermoses and old tins in the kitchen for Christmas this year. Can’t wait to start decorating once Thanksgiving is over. Thanks for sharing with SYC.

  26. We had two mornings where it froze. I could of used a little hand warmer 😉 Pinned & shared. Thanks for joining in the Inspiration Spotlight party. Always great to see what your making. Happy Nov.

  27. What a great idea…love it! Thank you for sharing at Share it One More Time….

  28. There are adorable! I need to make these.. It’s starting to get cold in Toronto! Plus, I have an unadulterated love of plaid. (My Canadian is showing!)

  29. I’ve been making memory quilts with Mother/Daddy’s clothes. This is a great “Memory” project.

  30. These turned out great and I have such a plaid addiction right now. I loved your plaid table runner and these were just perfect to use with the scraps! You are so creative!


  31. Great idea for hand warmers. I’ve got to start thrifting flannel shirts. Thank you for sharing at Vintage Charm and hope to see you back this Thursday.

  32. These are such cute ideas!

    Thanks for joining Cooking and Crafting with J & J!

  33. What a lovely idea! Thanks for sharing it. Pinned!

  34. What a great idea! I made a large reusable rice bag to use when I had a sore back. These work great and get hot and hold the heat a long time. Hand warmers would come in handy even at work on some days. Thanks for sharing! Pinning!

  35. designingvibes says

    Such a great idea. THanks for sharing!

  36. These are so darling! What a great idea for a walk to school on a chilly morning!!!

  37. thesummeryumbrella says

    I can’t get over how cute these little beauties are!!! Such a great idea too 🙂

  38. Thanks for sharing these with us at Throwback Thursday. This is a great way to up cycle those old shirts!

  39. What a great idea! Here I’ve been paying for those expensive hand warmers from Academy and I could have made them myself! Thank you so much for sharing and linking up with us over at the Welcome Home Wednesdays Link Party!

  40. Fantastic tutorial! LOVE the plaid flannel!! and i love that I have the very same starbucks mug as you! Great taste!! 🙂

  41. incredible ideas indeed…I love flanel and now we’re not going to waste it anymore 🙂

  42. Sue Washburn says

    using jasmin rice smells better!

    • Good point!!! But I’d rather save my Jasmine rice to eat. 😉

    • Bonnie Jean says

      Oh! I love the idea of using Jasmine rice instead of using the lavender buds I was originally thinking of trying! I’m heading to the local thrift store tomorrow and search for some pretty flannel shirts to re-purpose! It’ll be fun! Thanks for the inspiration Sue! ?

  43. I am obsessed with flannel right now to. Seems I am every year at this time. Love your project and will be digging out my flannel scraps to make my own. Thanks.

  44. Hi Sadie 🙂 I love these! I have added them to this week’s Snickerdoodle round up because I really think they would make awesome gifts!!
    Have an awesome weekend!

  45. These are so adorable and would make awesome little stocking stuffers! Thanks for sharing with us at the Merry Monday link party. I hope you’ll join us again next week. Sharing your post on Twitter!

  46. Such a brilliant idea! Love your kitty too!

  47. Stephanie @ Casa Watkins says

    Sarah I love this idea!!! How wonderful to have on hand these upcoming cold months. Thanks for sharing with us at the Your Home Decor and More link party! Pinning and sharing

  48. Maggie Smith says

    What kinds of thread do you use?

  49. Great recycle! Thanks for sharing at Brag About It! Pinned and tweeted 🙂

  50. What a great idea, I’m going to have to give these a try.
    (Visiting from Creative Ways Link Party).

    Have a great day, Kelly.

  51. wonderful recycle project. Perfect for the cold winter months too. Please tell me you shared this at my Thursday hop ( you can link up until Saturday midnight) xo

  52. Trudy Cousino says

    Just saw a pin on your flannel scrap wreath and saw this as well..just wanted to say that WalMart sells chemical hand warmers really cheap, you could make the covers to their size and leave one end open or add a snap, those hand warmers last for hours btw.

    • Thanks for popping over, Nancy- but you lost me at the word “chemical”!! That’s one of the many reasons I made my own. 🙂

      • Trudy Cousino says

        Ahh, chemical was not the right word. They are made from iron powder, salt, charcoal and vermiculite…nothing harmful.. Package says ingredients will not harm environment and can be disposed of in regular garbage. Called “hot hands” and used by people who work outdoors, fishermen in my area etc. work well on arthritic areas as well. Ps, I am not nancy.

        • Argh, I’m so sorry about that, Trudy!! I hate it when people get my name wrong so I truly do apologize! But I’m so glad the hand warmers are environmentally friendly. Since my blog is dedicated to repurposing/upcycling instead of buying new, it’s obviously important to me. 🙂

  53. I’m from Buffalo, and my husband hunts, so this is pure genius to me. Oh, and I love flannels of course 🙂 Shared on FB Sarah! XO

  54. Such a nice idea with flannel. Why didn’t I collect flannel shirts this summer??!! I’ve got to make some. Thanks

  55. Barbara Curtin says

    What about making a large one to put on the cold car seat when you go out in the morning?

  56. Hello! I linked back to this page from my blog at:! I’m making something similar and you definitely inspired me! Thank you for sharing!

  57. LEN J SIEGLER says

    I think they have to be made of cotton to be safe material for microwave.

  58. I love this idea! Did you hand sew the opening to hide the stitches or use your machine?

  59. Heat a brick in the oven. Wrap it in a towel and put it in the bottom of a small cooler. Then put lots of hand warmers in there. They will stay warm longer!

  60. Every since I saw your first flannel craft I’ve never looked at flannel the same way. I always wonder what would Sarah do? I do hope you share this with us at Celebrate Your Story link party this week!

  61. Ava's Alphabet says

    Such a darling way to use up flannel scraps. These would be great for football games. I wonder if you could carry them in a thermos or something to keep them warm? I also adore your kitty assistant. Cats do love a good project. Pinned and sharing. Thank you for joining us at Family Joy Blog Link-Up Party as always. I hope you will join our next party starting Sunday at noon EST.

  62. Perfect gift for winter!!
    Demi –
    Visiting from Nifty Thrifty Sunday

  63. I love these!

  64. I am brand new to the sewing machine world. Your tutorial is great! I’ve already made a few and love them. One question, how do you make sure the stitches on each side are the same distance from the edges of the material?

    • Sadie Seasongoods says

      Your sewing machine should have measurement lines under the presser foot which should help you guide it! (At least, that’s what I do!! 😉 )

  65. carol heringer says

    Is there a “print friendly” version? I may be missing it. Neat project!

    • Sadie Seasongoods says

      Since the only way I can earn a living is by having people visit my page, I don’t make a print-friendly version. I hope you understand…

  66. Oh this is a great idea! I always have lots of scrap fabric left over. I make dog and cat toys and blankets for rescued pets. I have outdoor cats and I bought one time use hand warmers to keep them warmer for the winter and put them under blankets in their houses, Now I can put them into a cute pocket of fabric for them. I use old clothing too. Anything soft and warm. Thanks for the idea! Will teach my grand daughter to sew using this idea!

  67. Know I’m a tad out of date but just wondered if there was a reason why you didn’t use the sleeve’s? Would they be too big? I am absolutely atrocious at sewing (have actually attached items to myself!) so the least amount of sewing is a relief!

  68. Melissa Grace says

    Since these are microwaved, do you have to use cotton thread? Also, have you tried the essential oil addition since publishing this?

  69. Hi, Ms. or Mrs. Sadie, I have a question. Have you needed to wash these and if so how did you go about it? I was contemplating adding a plastic or PUL layer to hold the rice so at least the outside could be washed if necessary.

    • Sadie Seasongoods says

      I gave all of mine away at a Fall Bonfire party, but that’s a really good question. If I were you, I’d sew strips of single-sided Velcro on one of the edges.

  70. Great Tutorial. Nice Work. i found in 2020 and try to make it. Really amazing idea.

  71. Barb Stapleton says

    I was wondering if white navy beans would hold the heat longer than rice??

    • Sadie Seasongoods says

      That’s a great question, Barb, and I wish I knew the answer to it. Definitely worth researching and maybe experimenting!

  72. Amber Duffy says

    If you use feed corn, they stay hot longer. I’ve made long ones for around the neck, larger square ones to use instead of a heating pad…the moist heat is better. 😁 Now I’ll have to make this size for hands! 😁

  73. I can’t tell you how happy that photo of the plaid hand-warmers in the wood bowl makes me! Love everything about it! Now to buy some old flannel shirts…..

  74. Ruth Ann Owen says

    we received about 8 or 9 wool shirts (washable so a blend) in at our clothing room. They are like new but way way out of date. Put them aside to try to decide what to do with them, this is a great idea. make quilts out of unwearable blue jeans, had thought it might be interesting to put some squares of these shirts in a quilt with the jeans. Going to try the hand warmers, might be a good give away to our “customers” in our free clothing room. Thanks

  75. Hi there, Just found this and thought it would make a great library program, but we do not have an abundance of sewing machines. Would it be possible to hand sew them and what stitch would you suggest?

  76. I’ve been making fleece blankets and have the square corners left over. Sounds like a good use for them unless someone does not think these should be made out of fleece.

    • Sadie Seasongoods says

      I don’t know the answer to that, Bonnie, since I’ve only made them with 100% cotton flannel. I think you need to verify that the fleece is a natural fiber first, because I imagine that acrylic or other man-made fibers can’t be microwaved or dry-heated safely.


  1. […] Free flannel handwarmer sewing tutorial at Sadie Seasongoods […]

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  4. […] I aim high to create a cozy experience for my guests. I made these hand warmers – with a tutorial from Sadie and her uber precious cat Cottonball – to have available at the unit for chilly nights. I was able to utilize leftover flannel […]

  5. […] during our winter soccer season {sitting outside at thirty degree games is rough} and I love these DIY hand warmers!  I don’t think they’d retain the heat long enough for a game but they’d be […]

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