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How to make your Machine Embroidery safe for the microwave

Updated: Apr 2

Now you can put your favorite machine embroidery designs on your bowl cozies, heating pads, and potato bakers.

These make excellent gifts and you can customize them with your embroidery machine if you follow all my safety tips in this article.

If you prefer to watch the video on this topic rather than read it, here ya go…

You know those winter nights when your feet are FREEZING when you get into bed? Try putting a microwave heat pack at your feet. It’s the most luxurious feeling on a chilly night. And since there are no cords or electricity, your pets might even like to snuggle with them too. Just don’t let Fido rip it open!

embroidered heat pack

It is extremely important that you follow all the safety tips I'm going to share, otherwise, you're just making a fire hazard and nobody wants that as a gift. At least, nobody I want to give stuff to.

Choosing Microwave-safe Fabrics

  1. Your fabric should be 100 percent natural fibers like cotton or linen.

  2. You could use other natural fibers like wool or silk, but those can smell bad when heated, so stick with 100% cotton or even linen or rayon. Just make sure somewhere on the label of your fabric it says 100 percent natural fibers. And if you have fabrics that are sitting around that you no longer know the fiber content, then don’t use them.

  3. Buy your fabric from a reputable source so that you know it is what they say it is.

  4. I’ve ordered natural fiber fabrics online that turned out to be blended with synthetics. (you can do a burn test if you want to) so be careful of that.

  5. Pre-wash your fabrics before using them. This removes the sizing or chemical treatments.

fabric labeled as 100% cotton

Choosing Microwave-safe Threads

  • Use either 100% rayon thread, or 100% cotton thread made for quilting machines.

  • The cotton is stronger than rayon, but rayon has a nice shine to it.

  • And this is super important. Your bobbin thread also needs to be your 100 percent natural fiber like cotton or rayon. Wind a bobbin or two of your top thread and you’ll be fine.

Choosing Microwave-safe Stabilizer

The stabilizer is the tricky part because most machine embroidery stabilizer is polyester, But there are cotton stabilizers available.

You must use a cotton stabilizer for your machine embroidery if they will go in the microwave. The polyester kind has the potential for melting. Not something we want to deal with, right?

(I’m providing Amazon affiliate links above and will make a small commission if you purchase from those links. I’ve found the Pellon cheaper at Walmart but the Madeira I order from Amazon)

I have a class on SkillShare if you want step-by-step instructions for sewing microwave-safe heating pads:

Choosing Microwave Safe Fillers for Heating Pads

I prefer to use cherry pits in my hot/cold packs because they can be machine-washed and last for many years. They also smell like cherry pie when you heat them up. But they must be special ordered and they’re not the cheapest of the fillers.

Rice is what most people use. It can’t be washed and will eventually smell funky. Other grains like beans, feed corn or flax seed are also common fillers. Check out this blog post at A Littly Crispy where she compares 12 different fillers. I loved her analysis and it jives with my own experience.

You can add some essential oil (just a few drops) or dried herbs to your filler for some aromatherapy.

heat pack fillers and fragrances

Microwave Fiber Items Safely

  1. DO NOT use polyester, acrylic, nylon or other synthetic fibers in your microwave. Even when blended with natural fibers, it’s risky. Stick with 100% natural fibers like cotton, and linen.

  2. And for the love of sparkles, do not use anything metallic like metallic thread or fabric with metallic in it. It will set off a little fireworks show in your microwave.

  3. ALWAYS put a cup of water next to your heat pack when you microwave it. That’s very important.

Microwaves act on WATER. And if there’s no water in the microwave, it will overheat whatever is in there. So that cup of water is not only for safety, but it also steams your heating pad for a warm, moist heat that is more soothing.

Let me prove to you I am not kidding about this safety stuff, I’m going to show you a burned one that I have.

I got lazy and didn’t put the cup of water in there. The tube was folded up and it scorched through several layers where the microwave had a hot spot of focused energy.

heating pad burned by microwave

Be careful about hot spots in your microwave. Putting that cup of water next to the heating pack will absorb the microwave energy and lessen the risk of scorching.

I don’t mean to scare you away from making microwave heating pads. Just the opposite! I’ve burned more microwave popcorn than heating pads. You can do this safely, you just need to be responsible about it.

WORTH mentioning: From my personal experience – those burned cherry pits smelled exactly like burned popcorn. (◔◡◔)

How about 2 Free designs?

I’ve created 2 text designs for microwave foot warmers. You’re welcome to download them for free at Creative Fabrica. Click the button below to check them out.

free embroidery designs

I also have some in-the-hoop pillow designs that can be used as hot/cold packs and were used on the two bags in the photo above. They come in 5 sizes and work with any brand of embroidery machine. It’s only a couple of dollars to get all the sizes from 4×4 up to 8×12.

NOTE: Those are affiliate links to Creative Fabrica, by the way. They pay me a bounty if you become a member after using one of my links. I’ve been a paying member for a few years because I get full access to embroidery designs, graphics, fonts, and much more. Even that “winter” design above is from creative fabrica where I downloaded it for free by using my membership.

REVIEW Microwave Safety of Fibers

Let’s review because if you’ve forgotten any of these safety requirements, you are not ready to try these microwave embroidery projects.

  • Always microwave your fabric goods with something wet, even if you have to put a cup of water in the microwave. with your stitched item. Water is very important.

  • Only use natural fibers for everything. This means your

    • fabric

    • top thread,

    • bobbin thread

    • stabilizer (Pellonw wrap-n-zap batting or Madeira Cotton Soft TearAway)

    • filler – I like cherry pits or rice. Check out this microwave filler comparison if you want more options.

Now you can put your favorite machine embroidery designs on your bowl cozies, heating pads, and potato bakers! Yippee! You’re armed with all the safety info and supplies needed to do it safely!

Go out and make some stuff. Give wonderful gifts. Be safe and warm!


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