Everyone knows that a little Vicks Vapo-Rub smoothed onto a kid’s chest can help ease a cough and clear up a stuffy nose. But some kids (and some adults too) don’t like the sticky stuff smeared on their skin. And some grown-ups are concerned about using a petroleum jelly-based rub.
I recently had a major Mom-lightbulb-moment. I make rice bags for bedtime – usually scented with orange oil, cinnamon stick and cloves. I will sometimes put one on my “I don’t like sticky stuff on my skin” daughter’s chest to help ease a cough and soothe her to sleep when she’s sick. What if I make a special rice bag for sick times and scent it with the aromatics in Vicks VapoRub?
Awesome – if I do say so myself. Cue the chorus and trumpets please. 🙂
Here’s what to do.
Use this free pattern to make a rice bag. Don’t worry, it’s super easy – all straight lines and no handwork.
The pattern calls for 2 1/2 cups of rice. Before you put the rice in the bag, stir in 20 drops of eucalyptus oil and 20 drops of rosemary oil. I get my essential oils at Greenlife grocery – which is a division of Whole Foods. They have a health and beauty section off to the side.
Put the rice in the bag and sew it closed. Ta daa!
The smell will be very strong at first – keep it stored in a ziplock bag to help preserve it. After a couple of months it will seem like it’s lost its scent, but microwaving will bring it right out again.
Microwave at 1 – 1 1/2 minutes (depends on the strength of your microwave and how hot you like it) and lay it on your child’s (or your) chest. The warmth will help soothe a cough, and the aromatics will help clear a stuffy head. No stickiness needed. 🙂
For extra comfort – sew up this rice bag cover.
I designed it especially to fit the rice bag I linked to above. Sometimes having a special critter like this monster to help scare away a cold does as much good as the aromatics and the chicken soup. 🙂
Here’s how to make it. . .
Cut 1 square of fabric or faux fur 10 1/2 inches square, for the back of the rice bag cover.
For the lower jaw, cut two rectangles, each 4 3/4 inches tall and 10 1/2 inches wide. Cut a piece of white jumbo rickrack 10 1/2 inches long.
For the top of the face, cut one rectangle 8 1/2 inches tall and 10 1/2 inches wide.
Make the eyes. Trace a 3-inch circle on the back of one scrap of white fabric. (I used the inside of a roll of masking tape.) Layer that scrap and another scrap of white fabric right sides together. Sew around the circle, right on the line you drew. Sew all the way around. Trim away the excess fabric, leaving about 1/4 inch seam allowance all the way around. It doesn’t need to be exact.
Pul the two layers of fabric apart slightly and cut a slit in the center of one of the layers. Turn the eye right side out through the slit, smooth out the curves, and press the eye flat.
You can see the slit in this photo. It’s OK for it to be unfinished since it’ll be the underside of the eye. You can see this whole process in more detail in this video showing how to applique onto faux fur.
Repeat for the second eye, or make a cyclops!
You’ll need to add the rickrack teeth to the bottom of the face. Draw a line 1/8′′ from the long edge of one of the smaller rectangles, on the right side of the fabric.
Lay the rickrack on the right side of the fabric so the valleys line up with the line you drew. Stitch the rickrack in place along the 1/8′′ line.
Lay the second small rectangle over the first, right sides together, with the rickrack sandwiched between the layers. Stitch them together using 1/4′′ seam allowance.
Flip the two rectangles right sides out and smooth them down where the rickrack comes out of the seam. Press. You can watch a video demonstrating the technique here.
Hem the bottom edge of the larger rectangle for the monster’s face. Turn up the bottom edge of the rectangle 1/4 inch and press. Turn it up another 1/4 inch and press. Sew the seam in place. This video will help with that hem if you’ve never done it before.
Position the eyes on the rectangle so they’re centered, and the top edge of the eyes is 2 inches down from the raw edge at the top of the face rectangle. Stick them in place with a quick swipe of fabric glue stick. Sew around the edges of the circles with matching thread. This video will help if you have trouble sewing those curves.
Add a couple of black buttons (I used 5/8″) to make pupils in the eyes, and a couple of tiny black buttons (I used 3/8″) to make nostrils below the eyes. You’re almost ready to sew all the pieces together!
Lay the back of the rice bag right side up on a flat surface. Layer the jaw rectangle over the fur so that the bottom edge of the jaw rectangle is lined up with the bottom edge of the fur square. Smooth all the fur to the inside, so it’s sandwiched between the two layers and pin or clip into place.
The bottom of the face is it the top of the photo here; I like to pin toward myself. See how all the fur is tucked inside the pinned edges? That’s what you want.
Layer the rectangle with the eyes face down over the top of the fur. Smooth the fur to the inside and pin or clip into place. The bottom of the eye rectangle should overlap the top of the teeth rectangle.
Sew all the way around the edge using 1/4 inch seam allowance.
Using 1/2′′ seam allowance, sew again up the two sides (not across the top and bottom). That will help reinforce the stress points at the sides of the “mouth.”
Turn the cover right side out and slip a warm rice bag inside!
Happy sewing! And to everyone fighting the cold and flu this season – get well soon!