October 30 2009, 10:06 AM
This week's weather reminds me exactly why we started our Weekend Winterizing Challenge so early: You never know when Colorado will flip the switch to "winter" and leave us shivering in our homes. It's always been tough for me to stay warm at night. I layer on sweatshirts, slide underneath a large down comforter, and still wake up shivering. That all changed last winter, when my friend Amy Skinner made me a birthday present. "They're warmers," she exclaimed as I tore off the wrapping paper and held up two very soft flannel bean bags. The bags are actually filled with bird seed, and each night before I go to bed I microwave them for a few minutes. After they're heated, I pull back my bed covers and toss them on top of the chilly sheets. By the time I slide into bed, it's warmed up and I can drift off to sleep without shivering. To make warmers for this edition of our winterizing challenge, I looked up variations online and came across some funny names for them, from the bare-bones description "rice sock" to the comical "magic bags." Following are two ways to make your own warmers: how to make warmers like mine, as well as a fast and simple way for those of you who may not be as sewing savvy. Step 1. Pick your fabric. If you're sewing warmers like mine, pick up some soft, thin flannel. Want something quicker? Find a clean cotton sock. A taller and thicker sock is better. You'll be filling it with grain and don't want it to poke through. Step 2. Gather your grains. Skinner uses birdseed because its affordable. For those of you making the simpler rice sock, grab some uncooked rice. Other warmer-makers have reported using corn seed and old cherry pits. Step 3. Make your pattern and fill the bags. My warmers' sizes and shapes vary; I have a longer, skinny warmer and a small, square one. I place the long one lengthwise down the bed, where my back is, and toss the smaller one down by my feet. Skinner makes up patterns based on the sizes and shapes she wants to make. (In case you're new to sewing, here's a simple bean-bag tutorial.) When filling the bags, don't pack the rice or birdseed too tight; you want your warmer to take new shapes as needed. Step 4. Add the good smells. Skinner tucked lavender from her yard into my warmers and dotted the birdseed with lavender essential oil. If you're taking the faster, sock-warmer route, just toss in the contents of a tea bag with your rice. Step 5. Closing your bag. If you're following the flannel pattern, you'll simply finish sewing up your warmers. For those making sock warmers, consider sewing the edge shut to make sure nothing falls out. A faster solution would be to tie it off with yarn, or to simply tie a knot in the end of the sock. Step 6. Warm 'em up. Before bed, toss your warmers in the microwave for a minute or two (depending on how many you're microwaving at once), and enjoy a nice, warm bed. Estimated time: Skinner estimates that if crafters have all the materials, it'll take around 30 minutes. For those making sock warmers, they can be ready in around 10 minutes.