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.
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.
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.
- 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
- 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.
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.
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.
Cut around the pattern, unpin the pattern, and unfold the pattern piece. It should look like this.
Step 2: Assemble
Fold the piece back together, this time putting right sides together, and pin all the way around the open edge.
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.
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.
Then, turn the eye pack right side out and iron flat.
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.
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.
Once the pack is filled, fold under the open edge, and pin 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.
Trim your threads and you’re done!
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.
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.
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.