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DIY Flax Pillow

This simple DIY flax pillow is an easy sewing project anyone can create. It makes a wonderful gift or useful item to have in your home.

diy flax warming pillow rough and tumble farmhouse

What is a flax pillow?

This simple design is a small fabric pillow that is filled with flax seed and dried herbs. It can be kept in the freezer as a cold pack or warmed in the microwave to use as a gentle heat.

I’m a fan of this great project because it requires only very basic sewing skills, can be made with scraps of fabric you have lying around, and is just darn handy.

Follow Along

For a step-by-step tutorial on how to make your own flax seed pillows check out the YouTube video below.

How do I use a flax pillow?

My young daughters think of these homemade warming pillows as little cure-alls. Bump on the head? Take a cool one from the freezer. Tummy not feeling well? Put a warm one on there and snuggle up with a blanket.

I gifted a pair of these pillows to my sister and her husband places them on his eyes when he gets migraines or tension headaches. The weight of the flax creates a gentle pressure on your eyes. Placing them on the back of the neck is another great place they can offer relief.

Menstrual cramps or a sore muscle? Use them like little flax heating pads and soothe whatever ails you. It is really an effective pillow for little aches and pains that can come with homestead living. 

Herbal Additions

I like to add a few tablespoons of soothing herbs to these pillows but that is completely optional.

​Dried chamomile or English lavender flowers have a lovely, soothing scent that many people find helps with relaxation and rest. 

Personally, I avoid using essential oils in these pillows. The scents from the oils will eventually fade away more quickly than the actual herbs themselves. While chamomile and lavender are typically very low-risk options, I still always caution about their use. Even a few drops of essential oils can have negative effects for people or pets. 

flax pillows and herbs rough and tumble farmhouse

What type of flax seeds to use?

I found readily available two types of organic flax, golden flax and brown flax. I chose to go with the brown flax for the simple reason that it is $1 cheaper per pound than the golden flax. Brown flax runs about $2.60 per pound. A one-pound bag will easily get you two pillows. I buy them in five-pound bags as I like to make up a few sets of pillows at a time.

A few fellow bloggers have tested different fillers for heating pads and Flax comes out with high marks every time. Check out their tests here and here.

Supplies for DIY Flax Pillows

Flax

​I make pillows that are about 5×5 inches. These pillows use about 1.5-2 cups of flax seed per pillow. You can certainly make smaller pillows and use as little as a cup of flax seed or less! Use whole flax seeds for this project. 

Cotton Fabric

Since these pillows are going in the microwave, it is very important you do not use synthetic fabrics. Cotton, cotton-made flannel, linen, and 100% wool are all safe options. Please check the fabric tags to be sure you are not using a synthetic blend of any kind.

I love getting flannel sheets and pillowcases from the thrift store to make these pillows. However, if the fabric doesn’t have a tag or I can’t read that is definitely 100% cotton, I do not buy it. You risk melting and fires in the microwave. 

​If you don’t have fabric lying around that you know the content of, you can always pick up a fat quarter to make your pillows. 

lavender flannel flax pillow rough and tumble farmhouse

Cotton Thread 

For the same reason we can’t use synthetic fabrics in the microwave, we also need to use 100% cotton thread. Synthetic thread might catch fire or melt.

Sewing Machine

You can certainly sew these by hand but I like to make them with a sewing machine.

Other Supplies

  • Funnel
  • Fabric Scissors
  • Measuring Cup
  • Dried Herbs

Pin it for Later

flax pillow for pinterest rough and tumble farmhouse

Lining the Flax Pillow

I have seen other tutorials for how to make pillows like these that suggest making an inner liner for your pillow. Others make the pillow out of a plain cotton fabric, then make a small removable pillow case to go over top that can be removed for washing.

I only use one layer of sturdy flannel fabric for this tutorial. I have not had any issues with materials getting too hot, oils leaking through fabric, pillows busting open, etc. So long as you use close stitching and sew carefully, a single layer of fabric has worked fine for me.

If you’d like to make your pillow extra reinforced then by all means feel free to sew an inner liner as well. 

Steps to Make a Flax Pillow

Cutting

For this pillow I simply cut the fabric into a roughly 5×5 inch square. You can make your pillow as small or as large as you like.Hearts are also an easy and sweet shape to make. See the photo below. Remember, you will be sewing these together so you will lose about 1/4 inch on all sides of the pillow for the seam.

I like to fold my fabric in half, then cut my square from that. This leaves me with only three sides to sew instead of four.

Pinning And Sewing

After you have your pattern ready, cut out two pieces of fabric using your pattern. Place the fabric right sides together (meaning the two nice sides of the fabric are face to face). Use pins around the edge of your fabric to keep them in place. If you are a confident sewer you might want to skip this step for speed, up to you!

I’ve also found that if you simply use a folded piece of fabric it seems to stay in place nicely without pins.

Sew around the raw edges of the fabric, leaving a quarter-inch seam allowance. Use a small, closely spaced stitch setting. Do not sew all the way around. Be sure to leave about one inch unsewn. This is where you will put the seeds in.

After using a straight stitch, go back over the edge using a closely spaced zig-zag stitch. This will help prevent your edges from fraying inside the pillow. It also adds another layer of security to keep those little flax seeds from busting out. 

heart shaped flannel flax pillows in red flannel rough and tumble farmhouse

Trim and Flip

Trim off any extra threads or excess materials.

Turn the fabric inside out by pulling it through the hole. This takes a little working but isn’t too bad. Next, use a pencil or the end of closed scissors to poke the corners into place. 

Fill with Flax Seeds

Using a funnel, pour in the flax seeds. Follow this by 2-3 Tablespoons of your dried herbs.

Give the bag a feel and see if you like if you like the feel. If you want more or less, feel free to adjust. 

If you would like to add essential oils, it is best to first pour the flax into a bowl, add your oils, and toss with a spoon. Then add them to the bag.

Sew Shut

When it comes time to close up the bag you have two options. I like to close it by hand using a ladder stitch. It is invisible and keeps a nice smooth edge.

If you prefer, you can simply pinch the seam shut and sew over the top. This won’t be quite as clean of a finish but will be very secure.

Using and Caring for your Flax Pillow

Place your pillow in the microwave and heat for 20 seconds. If you’d like it warmer, continue to heat in 10 second intervals until it reaches the desired temperature.

If you are putting the pillow in the freezer, place it in a container or ziploc first. This will keep it from absorbing moisture or any smells from the freezer.

Lastly, do not get your flax pillow wet! This will cause the seeds to soak up the water and get gooey/gummy. 

​The pillow can be spot-cleaned by using a warm damp washcloth. 

If you ever notice odd smells coming from your pillow or any general funkiness, you can use a seam ripper to open the area you hand stitched shut. Pour out the old flax. Wash the empty bag on delicate, dry thoroughly, re-fill, and sew shut.

I’ve used my same flax pillows for several years and never had to replace the filler.

Looking for some other simple projects or ideas for handmade gifts?

Check out my practical handmade gift guide list!

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