DIY Flax Seed and Lavender Neck Pillows
Surely you've seen those neck pillows advertised on TV and in magazines and catalogs—the ones you warm in the microwave before wrapping around your neck?
Well, you can make your own natural, scented neck pillow in less than an hour. Flax seed is the ideal filler because it's a good heft—comforting but not too heavy—and it holds heat well (thanks to the oil content in each seed), even after heating and reheating many times.
Here's how to make your pillow:
* Choose your fabric. Something heavy but not too stiff, like brushed canvas or cotton ticking, works well.
* Decide what size you'd like your finished pillow to be. Customize it to suit your needs, but a rectangle about 6 inches by 18 inches is a good place to start. (This is long enough to drape around your neck.)
* Cut your fabric. You can cut two pieces of cloth, adding about half an inch for a seam allowance all around. Or you can cut one piece of cloth that's twice the width you want the finished pillow to be plus half an inch seam allowance on each side. (In this case you'll fold the fabric in half lengthwise and sew three rather than four ends closed.)
* Place right sides of the fabric together and sew, using a half-inch seam allowance on each side. Leave one short side open for filling.
* Turn your pillow right side out.
* Fill your pillow about two-thirds to three-fourths full of flax seed. Add about 1/4 cup of dried lavender flowers. Don't overdo the flowers, because the scent will become stronger when heated. And don't overfill the pillow or the seeds won't be able to move around and the pillow won't drape comfortably.
* Sew the last end closed. (You can fold the ends in and sew by hand or by machine.)
To use your pillow, warm it in the microwave for about 30 seconds. Shake and warm for another 30 to 60 seconds, until the desired warmth. To warm it in the oven, place in cold oven and turn heat to 200 degrees. Shake pillow after five minutes, then replace for another two to five minutes, testing often.
Note: Be careful not to overheat the pillow! It can get hot enough to burn you or even start a fire!
* Design your pillow in the shape of a "U" to fit around your neck. Or make a muff to put your cold hands in.
* Make a no-sew version using tube socks. Just fill with flax and lavender and knot the end.
* Sew a liner to fill with flax and lavender and a removable cover for washing. Simply make the cover just a bit larger than the liner, for easy removal. And be sure to prewash and preshrink your outer fabric. (You don't want it to shrink so that it no longer fits over your liner.) Choose a liner fabric that's lightweight and a bit open weaved but tight enough to hold the contents.
* Use dried rose petals, mint, or other dried herbs that you enjoy for scent in place of the lavender flowers.
* Use your pillow over your forehead, or under or over your feet, too.
* Try chilling your pillow in the freezer when you need to cool rather than warm an area.
Flax pillows make wonderful gifts. Choose fabrics that are appropriate for the recipient, and tie with a pretty ribbon or raffia. Include a little card with directions.