There are lots of things I love about living in a Victorian house. The quirky period features, like our tiled hall floor and front room fireplace. The fact the ceilings are a little bit higher than modern houses. The way every time we strip a room back to its bare bones, we uncover about a century’s worth of history in the process.
On the other hand, there is one thing I’m not such a fan of. The draughts. Through the gaps in the wooden floors, under the doors, down the chimney… for a person who feels the cold even in the middle of summer, it’s a bit of a nightmare. And it’s why I hit the shops last week looking for a cure.
The main issue in our house is the breeze that blows under the doors – there’s no carpet downstairs, so there’s nothing to fill the gap. I had a look for some draught excluders in a couple of shops, but the pretty ones I liked were ringing in at around £25. That seems a bit steep for something you’re going to chuck on the floor as soon as you get it out of the bag. And it’s even steeper when you consider they can’t cost much more than a tenner to make.
So, armed with some free fabric samples I ordered when I was looking to make some curtains, I set about making my own version. It’s a really easy sewing project, and you can pretty much use any spare fabric you’ve got knocking around (bear in mind that anything white or ultra-light will get grubby on the floor though).
What you’ll need:
A single, 100cm x 30cm piece of fabric, or several scraps that equal that length when they’re side-by-side (bear in mind the size of your doors and adjust the length accordingly)
The same again, but just any old fabric – this is for the inside so you’ll never see it
A sewing machine (could be done by hand if you have the skills/patience)
A couple of 1kg bags of cheap rice/lentils or something similar
To start, line your fabric pieces up if you’re making the patchwork version. Decide what order you want them to go in, then take the first two pieces and place them patterned sides together. Pin together down the join, then sew about a centimetre in from the edge.
Repeat this with all the bits of fabric, remembering the patterned sides always need to face in. If in doubt, pin it then open it out and check you’ve done it properly before sewing. What you’ll end up with is a single length of fabric.
Now fold your fabric in half long-ways (patterned side facing in again) and pin down the outside edge. If you’d rather be safe than sorry, you can tack it together at this stage. Or just get stuck in on the sewing machine and be careful to avoid the pins.
Either by hand, or on the sewing machine, sew down the outside (long) edge and along one of the short edges. Make sure you leave one short edge open – the next step is to turn the fabric inside out like a pair of tights. You should end up with something like this…
Next, you need to do exactly the same thing, but with your plain bit of fabric. I used the lining from an old pair of curtains – it really doesn’t matter as this bit will never see the light of day. Once you’ve reversed it, add your filling. I used two-and-a-bit 1kg bags of rice (the cheapest kind I could find in the supermarket). The key is not to fill it too much – you want a bit of slack so the rice can move around inside the bag. Once you’re happy, sew up the top edge – again, don’t worry about the stitching as nobody will ever know how good/bad it is.
Now you’ll need to get your ‘inner sausage’ into the outside cover of your draught excluder. Because you’ve made the two parts the same size, they should fit perfectly with a bit of squeezing.
At this point you can decide if you want to add a handle. You could use a bit of ribbon, some cord, or make one from a bit of scrap fabric (if you want it to match, consider cutting a 30cm long by about 8cm wide piece from one of your fabric patches before you start). I had a scrap left over so I folded the edges inwards and sewed right along the middle. I’ve made some of these without the handle though, so feel free to skip it altogether.
Now you need to insert the ends of your handle into the open edge of your draught excluder. Tuck about an inch inside so it’s nice and strong. Fold the raw edges of your draught excluder inwards by about a centimetre, and pin the whole lot together. The key when you’re doing this is to catch the top edge of your inner sausage (sorry, I can’t stop calling it that, no matter how hard I try) when you do it. So you’re sewing through your outer fabric, your handle, and your inner sausage (!) all at once. Again, tack it if you’re worried, then sew it up.
And that’s it! You’re now the proud owner of a totally unique draught excluder that’ll not only tart up any door in your house, but it might just save a bit on your energy bills, too. And all for the price of a few bags of rice.
Of course, if you’re pushed for time you’ve got a couple of options. Firstly, you could leave out the ‘inner sausage’ and just fill the fabric sock with rice and sew it up. Secondly, you could use a single piece of fabric rather than patches. I found some grand old country house curtains in a charity shop, so I turned them into a single curtain for my hallway and made a draught excluder with the leftover fabric, below. And if you’ve got more time on your hands, you could go all-out and make the outer fabric removable and washable with a zip, some Velcro or some buttons. Either way, you’ll be draught-free!