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How to Make a Soothing Headache Eye Mask

Project At-A-Glance
Sewing30 minutes
Making a Soothing Headache Eye Mask requires no prior sewing experience, and takes under 30 minutes. They are perfect for self-care or gifts!
Woman with long brown hair and a pink shirt lying on a pillow with a Soothing Headache Eye Masks over her eyes

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Headaches and I, well, I wish I could say we weren’t well acquainted, but that just wouldn’t be the truth. I’ve suffered from headaches since I was a pre-teen, but I finally got them mostly under control thanks to dietary and lifestyle changes in my early 30s. Then, BAM, I contracted Lyme Disease, and headaches came back as a daily part of my life.

While I’ve accepted that headaches are a part of my journey for the time being, I don’t just suffer through them. No way! I’ve got a whole arsenal of natural (and sometimes pharmaceutical, when it gets really bad) options to help me manage my cranky noggin. One of those tools that I rely on constantly is my headache eye mask.

Hands holding up a complete Soothing Headache Eye Mask in front of a woman's torso wearing a pink shirt

Almost all of my headaches start behind my right eye. I’ve figured out that if I catch on to the first twinge of a headache early enough, I can either stop it in its tracks or, at the very least, keep it from getting worse by lying down in a quiet, cool, dark room with one of these cold aromatherapy masks over my eyes.

It doesn’t always work, but it does work often enough that it’s worth a shot every time I start to feel the throbbing behind my eye.

Brunette woman in a pink shirt lying on a grey couch with a Soothing Headache Eye Masks over her eyes

These guys are SO easy to make—regardless of your previous sewing experience—and would make thoughtful, beautiful handmade gifts for anyone in your life. Everyone has a headache on occasion, right? So everyone could use one of these! Let me show you how to make them.

Your Materials

  • The pattern
  • 1 fat quarter of cotton or flannel fabric—you’ll end up using much less, but a fat quarter is an affordable and accessible way to get the fabric you need. Most major retailers carry fat quarters in their craft section.
  • Coordinating thread
  • Needle or sewing machine
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Scissors
  • Funnel
  • Straight pins
  • Mixing bowl and spoon
  • About 1 1/2 cups white rice
  • 3 drops lavender essential oil—lavender is a classic stress-relief scent that can really help tension or stress headaches
  • 3 drops chamomile essential oil—similar to lavender, chamomile is a classic stress reliever and can help ramp down tension and stress
  • 3 drops eucalyptus essential oil—if your headaches are caused by sinus congestion, eucalyptus oil can help clear it out
  • 3 drops rosemary essential oil—rosemary oil can help boost your circulation, and many headaches are caused by constricted blood vessels in the head

Note on peppermint essential oil: Peppermint essential oil is a classic oil for treating headaches. However, since these masks are designed to go over the eyes, I highly recommend not adding peppermint essential oil. It makes eyes burn and water, which might distract you from how badly your head hurts, but it’s still no fun. If you do want to use peppermint essential oil, dilute some and then rub it on your temples—far away from your eyeballs. Then place on these eye masks.

Materials for Soothing Headache Eye Masks on a grey background: pattern, fabric, scissors, rice, essential oils, funnel, needle and thread, pins, bowl, spoon

Step 1: Cut your pattern and pieces

Unlike my hot/cold rice packs, these eye masks are designed to mold around your nose and lay flat on your face, so I created a pattern for you to use. Print out the printable and cut out the pattern. You’re probably going to think it looks way too big, but trust me, once you’ve sewn it together, it’ll be the perfect size to block out all the light on an adult’s head.

Scissors cutting out the paper pattern for Soothing Headache Eye Masks

Then find a fold in your fabric (you might want to iron it a bit, as fat quarters tend to have some intense fold lines), fold it in half so right sides are out, and place the pattern piece along the fold as shown. Pin in place.

Hands pinning a paper pattern for Soothing Headache Eye Masks to striped fabric

Cut around the pattern, unpin the pattern, and unfold the pattern piece. It should look like this.

Piece of fabric cut for Soothing Headache Eye Masks and unfolded

Step 2: Assemble

Fold the piece back together, this time putting right sides together, and pin all the way around the open edge.

Pins surrounding the edge of fabric for a Soothing Headache Eye Mask

Sew all the way around the open edge, using a 1/4” seam allowance, but leave about 1 1/2″ of one end open for turning.

Hand holding fabric for a Soothing Headache Eye Mask that is mostly stitched but has an opening left

Because these eye pillows will be in heavy use (and carrying rice), I like to reinforce the edges by doing an overlock stitch. You can also use a serger, if you have one, or even just a second zigzag stitch. If you are sewing this by hand, you could also just do a second row of straight stitches in the seam allowance.

Overlock stitch around the edges of a Soothing Headache Eye Mask

Then, turn the eye pack right side out and iron flat.

Blue, green, white, and grey Soothing Headache Eye Masks sewn together but unfilled

Set the fabric aside for now, and then we’re going to mix together the rice.

Step 3: Fill the Pack

In a medium-size mixing bowl, combine the 1 1/2 cups of white rice with the drops of essential oil. Stir well to combine.

Essential oils being dropped into a glass bowl of rice

Using a funnel, fill the fabric pack with the rice—you might not want to use all of it. You don’t want these masks to be so full of rice that they are stiff. You want some give to them so they can mold around your face.

Rice in a funnel being poured into a Soothing Headache Eye Mask

Once the pack is filled, fold under the open edge, and pin closed.

Hand pinning fabric together for a Soothing Headache Eye Mask

Filled Soothing Headache Eye Masks with 3 pins holding the opening closed

Step 4: Close the Pack

Using a ladder stitch, close the end of the pack shut. I highly recommend stitching over this seam two or three times to reinforce it.

Hands showing how to do a ladder stitch to close up a Soothing Headache Eye Mask

Trim your threads and you’re done!

Completed Soothing Headache Eye Mask on a grey background

Store the headache eye mask in a ziptop bag in the freezer (the ziptop bag helps keep wanted scents in and unwanted scents out). Remove and place on your face whenever you feel a twinge of a headache.

Soothing Headache Eye Mask in a ziptop freezer bag, labeled with "headache eye pillow - lavender, rosemary, chamomile, eucalyptus"

When I am suffering from a headache that I know is from sinus congestion, I also sometimes warm these eye masks in the toaster oven (you can also do the microwave) to help loosen congestion. The warm (or even hot) pack over my sinuses seems to really help get stuff draining.

But more often than not, I prefer the cold packs when my head is throbbing. Especially if I combine it with a hot lavender foot soak—something about the combination of a cold pack on my face and my feet in hot water seems to get my circulation going enough to stop a headache in its tracks usually.

Brunette woman in a pink shirt lying on a grey couch with a Soothing Headache Eye Masks over her eyes

I’m sure the built-in quiet time on the couch doesn’t hurt the cause either! I hope these eye masks help make your next headache a bit more tolerable.

Cassie is the founder and CEO of Wholefully. She's a home cook and wellness junkie with a love of all things healthy living. She lives on a small hobby farm in Southern Indiana with her husband, daughter, two dogs, two cats, and 15 chickens.

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16 Responses
  1. Jean Nuttall

    I made one of these masks for my daughter who has occasional migraines and sinus infections. I did not use the essential oils as she is sensitive to fragrances but she absolutely loves it!! In fact, she just called and asked me to make her another one and one for her cousin!

    1. Danielle @Wholefully

      That makes us so happy, Jean! We’re so glad your daughter loves it, and we really appreciate you coming back to tell us about your experience. Thank you!

    1. Danielle @Wholefully

      Hi, Phyl! You can find the amounts you need listed in the Materials section of the post. It’s three drops each lavender, chamomile, eucalyptus, and rosemary essential oils. Let us know how the project turns out for you!

    1. Danielle @Wholefully

      Hi, Eileen! We don’t recommend instant rice or minute rice because those are pre-cooked and they can be more prone to mold. But if you don’t have regular rice, we’ve had folks say they’ve had luck using different dried products such as lentils, beans, flaxseed, and others. Anything that’s uncooked, dried, and feels comfortable to you should work!

  2. Cheryl

    These are so cute I had to make a few for gifts! I have one question, If you warm them, how long do you suggest? I gave a higher wattage microwave and I’m thinking 30 – 45 seconds as my large bags are 1:30. Does this sound about right? Thanks!


    1. Danielle @Wholefully

      Hi, Cheryl! We recommend checking it in 15 second intervals until you find how long works for you. Since everyone’s appliances and heat preferences vary, this is the safest way to figure out how long!

    1. Danielle @Wholefully

      Hi, Alison! The first thing in the list of Materials for the project is “The pattern” and those words are a link to the pattern PDF. Just click on that and the pattern should open up for you to download or print.

      Let me know if you’re still having trouble finding it, or if it won’t open—though I checked it on our end and it should work just fine for you! Happy Sewing!

    1. Danielle @Wholefully

      Hi, Christine! We haven’t made it with brown rice but think it should work fine. You might find that the amount you fill it with needs to be adjusted to make it hug the contours of your face better. But otherwise it should be okay. Let us know how it turns out for you!

    1. Danielle @Wholefully

      Hi, Michelle! If you keep your eye mask in a bag, the oils should last quite a long time. Ours have been going strong for years! You shouldn’t really have any need to add more oils back into the rice.

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Hello. My name is Cassie, and I’m a healthy home cooking expert.

I'm a Certified Holistic Nutritionist, and I've been developing healthy recipes professionally for over 15 years. Food is my love language, and my kitchen tips and nourishing recipes are my love letter to you!

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