Thursday, October 22, 2020

Scrap-Fabric Draft Stopper

The 110-year-old house has a 110-year-old front door, and it's super drafty! Time to get super crafty. Because sometimes weather-stripping just doesn't cut it.

I think it goes without saying, but here I am saying it anyway, that this year's most popular and practical sewing project is the face mask. Yes, I've made a couple, and I might make more. At this moment of dropping temperatures, however, energy efficiency is a priority. Cold air is rushing into the house through this gigantic gap under the front door.

Draft stoppers in their simplest form are tube-shaped beanbags or pillows, or even just a rug kicked up against the door. You can find DIY draft stoppers all over the internet. I browsed and decided to go for the two-sided, under-door type.

Even improvisational sewing
requires some planning.
My door is 36 inches wide, and 2 inches thick. My plan was an 8-inch-around tube for the interior side and a 5-inch-around tube for the exterior side, connected by a 2-inch flat strip under the door. All 36 inches long.

I came up with the tube sizes just making circles with my measuring tape and thinking, "Yes, that looks good."

Basic materials:
Heavy fabric (can stand up to wear and tear)
Fleece interfacing, batting, or similar for inner lining
Unpopped popcorn kernels 
General sewing notions

I pieced together some fabric scraps and planned to have the nice patterned fabric for the interior side of the door and the plain, utilitarian fabric (old khaki pants) for the exterior, so I had extra sewing to do, but this project could be made easier by using a single large rectangle of fabric.

About 18 inches across for the 8-inch tube, 5-inch tube,
2-inch middle strip (x2 because it will be folded),
and seam allowances.

Line the wrong side (what will be the inner side) of the fabric rectangle with fleece interfacing. 

Then, fold. For a single tube with traditionally neat seams, you'd fold in half wrong-side-out, stitch up all but one side, and flip it right-side-out for filling. Just like a very long, skinny beanbag.

For my double-sided version, I kept it right-side-out when I folded it, and I stitched three lines down the long length of the rectangle: 

One to sew the two loose edges together (shown as the middle here), 
one at 4 inches from the fold to sew off the 8-inch tube, 
and one 2.5 inches from the fold to sew off the 5-inch tube. 

The space left between the two tubes was the 2 inches for the flat middle section to slide under the door.

Then, at one end, I just folded an edge seam and stitched it there, visible but not too shabby. After filling the tubes, I sewed up the other end with the same simple fold.

Could you get away without the fleece interfacing? Yes. Just like you could choose to fill your tubes with pillow stuffing instead of popcorn kernels. But, I like the combination of the two. The fleece gives the fabric a little extra cushion and shape, and it helps fill some of the space inside the tube for a more balanced fill. You get the heavy sagginess of a beanbag, which is better for sinking into and filling the gap below the door, without it being so heavy and saggy it's hard to move. 

Carefully fill each tube with the unpopped popcorn kernels.

Now, if you noticed, I said earlier, "My plan was..." 

I tested my dual tubes before stitching up the open end. Slide the 2-inch, flat middle section under the door, with the larger, decorative tube on the interior, and the plain, smaller tube on the exterior side of the door where, when the door is closed, the tube will sit on the threshold between the wooden front door and storm door. In theory, the two-sided draft stopper provides extra draft stoppage and also moves with the door as it opened and closed. Well...

The threshold is considerably higher than the floor—one of the many modifications in the house's history to try to weatherproof that gap under the front door. The dang exterior tube wouldn't slide over it very easily. I could get the door shut, but not without carefully adjusting the draft stopper as I pushed. Not very user-friendly.

Ultimately, I emptied the popcorn from the smaller, exterior tube, leaving it as an extension of the flat section that slides under the door, which still helps fill the gap better than a simple, single-tubed version.



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