Wednesday, January 5, 2011

This Cold House, Part 2: How to Sew a Draft Stopper

It's also known as a draft dodger or a draft snake. Call it whatever you like -- this easy sewing project will help you save a little money with your heating bills by blocking off drafty areas along the bottoms of window and doors. As I mentioned in my previous post, I've been meaning to make one of these for my back door -- for the last week or so, I've just had a rolled-up towel as my makeshift draft stopper.

It's been a while since I've featured a sewing project on this blog, so I'll just say this to any new reader:  I compare my sewing experience with my skiing experience. I'm a pretty uncoordinated person and it took me a while to learn, but I can ski and I really like it. I stick to mostly the easy green runs (though I have done a blue run or two in my time) when I go, but I can do it. Same with sewing: I'm not a super-crafty type of person and it took me a while to get over my sewing machine phobia, but I can sew and I really like it. I stick to easy projects (though I dabble in some intermediate stuff), but I can do it.  Long story short: if I can sew this, you can sew this.

Okay, onto the step-by-step how-to...

There are different ways to make these, but I followed the instructions I saw on Martha Stewart's website.  Gotta give credit where it's deserved.

To get started, measure the width of the door or window you want the draft stopper to fit. On the fabric of your choice (I'd suggest a slightly heavier, home-decor weight fabric, but anything will work), cut a piece of fabric that is as long as you measured (in my case, it was 36 inches) and about 9 1/4 inch wide. You'll also need a little extra fabric to cut out the circles for the ends.

I had a serependipitous fabric find among my remnants. When I got my living room curtains from Ikea, they had to be cut to fit. I saved the leftover fabric. Turned out that the long piece I had was just a little under 10 inches wide. Sweet!

Fold the fabric in half lengthwise, right sides facing, and pin the edges together (if you're feeling adventurous, you can skip the pins and free-hand it).

Sew along the pinned edge, with about a 1/4 inch seam allowance. You want to leave a 4-inch opening somewhere along the middle. Be sure to backstitch at both edges of the opening. You'll use this opening for turning the tube rightside out later.

Move the seam to the middle of the tube and iron, pressing the seam open.

Now that you have the tube done, it's time for the slightly more tricky part, the ends.

On Martha's site, she has a printable pattern for the 3 1/4 inch circles.  Since printers always seem to commit some kind of printer suicide when I own them, I had to improvise.

I traced the bottom of a pint-sized canning jar with some chalk. Right about 3 1/4 inches. So you can either print yours off or try my method. Cut two circles.

Fold the circle in half and press. Fold it in half again and press. Repeat with the other circle.

Match the creases on the unfolded circle with the pressed creases at the end of the tube.  Pin in place.

With a needle and thread, baste in place. Until recently, I thought basting was only relegated to roasting poultry. Basting in terms of sewing means to stitch loosely so you can machine-stitch more easily. As you can see the stitches on mine are wide and loose; be careful not to cinch the end. Remove the pins.

Machine stitch around the basted end. Like I said, this was the trickiest part.

The machine stitches are in red -- you just go around the edge, nothing too complicated. Remove the basted stitches. Follow same procedure on the other end.

Turn your tube rightside out through the opening at the seam.  Next, fill the stopper. You don't want it to be too full or it won't be flexible; don't under-fill it, either. I wish I could give an exact amount, but every stopper will be a different size. Just go with your gut.

On the Martha Stewart site, she suggests using kitty litter as filler. I can see how that would work, but it seems a little more pricey than other options to me. I used dry pinto beans mixed with some rice. I like this filling because it makes the stopper not only moldable and flexible to any opening, but it also keeps it weighted down. I've read other instructions for draft stoppers and they've filled theirs with old fabric scraps and holey socks.

Ta-da! Draft successfully stopped. {Pay no heed to my scuffed-up back door. Between the boy and my cat clammoring to get outside, it just gets that way. }   This was my first attempt at making one of these and it really was easy. If you're still averse to sewing or don't have a sewing machine, there are some no-sew stoppers I've seen on various sites (here's a link to one I found).  In any case, whatever type you make, it will look better than a rolled-up towel, I'm sure.


This Place is a Disaster! said...

If I used beans or rice, I would have to line the inside with a plastic bag. THe floor inside of our drafty door gets wet with shoes and snow so it could soak in and ruin the beans and rice...same with kitty litter, right?

Heather said...

Yeah, you're probably right about the wetness ruining the beans and rice and it would make all the cat litter clumpy (since that's what happens when it gets wet when used by cats). Lining it with a plastic bag is a good idea. If having a weighted draft stopper isn't that important, you could always use the fabric scrap route - that way, you could wash it and it would dry out. You could also try using a vinyl cloth (like what you use for tablecloths) since it will repel moisture better. Just a few ideas.

tom said...

I was looking for ideas about filler for a draft dodger. Love how you used a ball jar for the end cap template. Thanks for the idea!

Unknown said...

Beanbag beans?

Kristina said...

If moisture is a problem, try using plastic or foam beads that they use to fill stuffed animals and beanbags. Shipping stores sometimes have the foam ones, as do craft stores. When in doubt, Amazon ships to your door! ;)

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