My grandmother has been suffering with pretty severe neck and shoulder pain for the past couple of weeks. Living over 500 miles away, there really isn't too much I can do to help her, but she did tell me that she tried to use her heating pad on her shoulder without much success. I decided to make my grandma a little care package including a microwaveable heat wrap. I did some research and found that although some heat wraps are filled with rice or wheat, flax seed is really the best option. Other fillings can emit an unpleasant, "cooked" smell when heated. I also wanted a wrap that could cover both her shoulder and neck simultaneously; that's why the wrap in my pictures is rather oddly shaped.
I started by cutting my basic shape out of fabric. It is important to use only natural materials that won't melt in the microwave (no polyester); cotton is a good choice. Also, there should be no metallic threading in the fabric. For the descriptions below, I am going to write them as if I had made a simplified rectangular heat wrap rather than the crazy shape I actually made. I cut two rectangles out of the fabric, one for the front and one for the back. I also cut two slightly larger rectangles to serve as a removable cover that can be washed. With right sides together, using my sewing machine set to a short stitch length, I sewed around the perimeter of the rectangle, leaving the fourth side open. Then I turned the wrap right sides out, and began to fill. I put in a small amount of flax seed, then topstitched across the wrap, enclosing the seeds in a small pouch. I repeated the process, filling, then stitching until I reached the unstitched top of the wrap. I filled this last portion with seeds, then folded in the exposed edges and topstitched the wrap closed. This process created a segmented wrap that ensured a more even distribution of the seeds. I also did not fill each pouch to its absolute capacity, as I was concerned that this would put too much pressure on the seams. I sewed the cover the same way that I did the wrap itself, but instead of stitching the fourth side closed, I covered the exposed edges with bias tape.
I tied the heat wrap with a bow and enclosed instructions for using it: Microwave for 3-4 minutes, testing the temperature before applying it to the sore area as it may be quite hot. Also, it is important to keep the wrap from getting wet (seeds + water, not good), so it may be best to store it in a plastic zip-top bag. I shipped the heat wrap with a jar of homemade chicken stock, soup mix, and a bar of lemongrass soap. Even though I am not able to be there with my grandma, at least she'll know I'm thinking of her and hopefully the flax seed wrap will help soothe her sore muscles. The wrap could also be placed in a plastic bag and frozen, to be used as a cold pack. The method for making the wrap could be used to make a heat pack of virtually any shape or size, suitable for any muscle aches and pains. Be creative and enjoy!