Monday, January 13, 2014

Corn Bags

So, who's ready to get back to a normal posting schedule?  I know I am!  But first, I have a week of catch-up posts - end of 2013, Christmas stuff, that sort of thing.  Of course I have plans to switch up the daily blog pattern for the rest of the year, but that's still being fleshed out.  So today, I'm going to give more details about one of the last 101 Things in 2013 projects that I finished last year.  

I shared this picture a few weeks ago:

My sister and I went in together on this project to make 14 of these big bags for our mom, aunts, friends, and ourselves.  We had a few pins that we used for reference:

We loved the idea of having a removable, washable cover.  I received a corn bag as a gift once a few years ago, and while it's very nice, the only thing I didn't like was that I couldn't wash it.

So here is a list of supplies we gathered, and how much it set us back:
- 50 lb. bag of feed corn (I got this for $8 + tax at our local Mill & Supply store - 50 lbs made 14 large bags and over a dozen pairs of hand-warmers)
- muslin or an old bed sheet for the inside bag (we scoured remnant bins, freecycle, and our friends' scrap bins for the fabric and probably spent a maximum of $5 on all the fabric for this project, including the cute fabric)
- cute fabric for your cover 
- sewing machine - highly recommended!
- iron

This won't be a full tutorial with pictures, because I'm still terrible at remembering to take those pictures, but here's how we did it.

NOTE ON FEED CORN: We had to sort the corn (least favorite job ever).  There were a few black kernels, and a few bugs that we didn't want to include.  We also microwaved each finished bag 3 times before we gave them away to kill anything that may have still been in there.

Cut two 12" x 12" squares of your plain fabric and place together (if you have wrong sides, they should be on the inside).  Sew a straight stitch 1/4" from the edge on 3 sides.  Iron over twice (another 1/4" for each fold) on the two parallel sides and sew those sides down. Press over twice (1/4" each fold) on the third sewn side and sew this side, too.  You'll have lost a total of 3/4" on each of the three sides for your seams.

Pour 6 cups of corn into the bag.  Hold the bag upright so all the corn settles at the bottom and put a few pins near the top of the corn to keep it in the bottom of the bag.  Sew a straight stitch 1/4" from the edge on the open side. As with the other three sides, press over twice (1/4" each fold) and then sew this seam.  Remove the pins and trim the thread ends, and you should have something like this:

Why, yes, that is an old pink bed sheet.  We used white muslin for most of the inner bags, but ran out for the last couple.  The corners look something like this:

For the removable cover, cut 3 pieces of fabric: one piece should be 12" by 10", and then two pieces 12" by 7".  Line them up (right sides together) so that everything fits in the 12" by 10" piece.  (See the original posts for a better description of this process.)  Sew all the way around with a straight stitch (we did about 1/2" seam allowance), and then again with a zig-zag stitch to keep edges from unraveling. Trim away excess fabric and threads, turn inside out, and place inner bag inside.

Here's what the flap looks like:

Then we made a lot of hand warmers.  We cut two 4" by 5" pieces for each hand warmer, placed them right-sides-together, sewed a straight stitch on 3 sides, and then reinforced that with a zig-zag stitch.  We then turned them right-side-out, and pressed the edges of the 4th side in (so no raw edges would show), and filled with 1/2 to 3/4 of a cup of corn (we found that fuller was better for these). Then we stitched the 4th side shut. These do not have removable covers.

And that's not even half of the hand-warmers we made, but by the time I got a picture, they were already given away.

When we gave these to friends, we included instructions on the proper care and usage.

For the big bags, it was basically:
1. Cover is removable and washable, but do not wash inner corn bag.
2. Heat up in microwave for 3 minutes - do not overheat or corn may scorch.
3. If corn bag has not fully cooled, do not use full 3 minutes to reheat.
4. There will be a corn smell and slight dampness for the first several times, but this will fade with use.
5. You can also place in the freezer for a cold pack.

And the hand warmers get heated up for 30-40 seconds.

Caleb and I each have one of the big bags for our personal use.  He's been taking his in the car to keep warm on the way to work - and heating it up at work sometimes, too.  I'll sometimes heat mine up before bed - it's often still warm when I wake up around 2:00 in the morning!  

This is a pretty simple project that even a novice sewer (like yours truly) can handle.  

Oh, and I only bent one sewing machine needle in this process - and that was before I figured out the right way to fold the inner bag.  Huzzah!  Perhaps my sewing-machine-needle-destruction days are behind me!

Love and Warmth.
Leah Joy


  1. I have to tell you, my corn bag is quite possibly the most popular gift I have ever received! My girls all love it too, so I will definitely be making more of them, if only so I can use mine when I want!! Thank you again for the present, and the tutorial.

    1. Yay! I'm so glad! I definitely recommend checking out the two pins I posted for a better tutorial! :)