As the weather turns colder, drafts begin to creep inside under doors and windowsills. Those trickles (or downright drafts) of cold air can really ramp up your heating bills, not to mention freezing your tootsies all winter long!
A simple draft dodger or draft snake is an easy afternoon project that can help seal off the bottoms of doors and windows against drafts. Here are instructions for a simple sewn draft dodger, as well as a no-sew version. Both make great gifts and are perfect projects for involving kids!
Read on to find out how to make a draft dodger.
To make a draft dodger, you will need:
- Tape measure or ruler
- Fabric: Cotton prints work great, but you can also use knits, old blue jeans, or any scraps you have on hand. Just make sure the fabric is woven tightly enough that your filling won’t escape!
- Sewing Machine and Needle/Thread: If you don’t have a sewing machine, you can do all the sewing by hand.
- Filling: About 10-15 cups of loose filling. I like to use uncooked rice because it molds so easily; but you can also use dried peas or beans, buckwheat, unscented kitty litter, coarse sand, shredded rags or plastic bags, or Styrofoam pellets.
Optional items include:
- Funnel: A funnel will make the project much easier, especially if kids are helping. You can use a regular one, or improvise by cutting the bottom out of a disposable cup or plastic bottle.
- Framing Square: A straight edge or square corner will help you cut a nice straight rectangle.
- Newspaper Bags: If you’re worried about your draft dodger getting wet, you can place the filling inside plastic newspaper bags (the tube-shaped ones), which you then stuff inside the fabric.
- Decorations: You don’t have to decorate your draft dodger, but here’s a chance to be creative! You can turn your draft dodger into a snake, a dog, or an abstract masterpiece by hot-gluing eyes, ears, buttons, twigs, or other decorations to the finished project.
Step 1: Determine Fabric Length
Measure the width of your door or window, then add 4” to find the total length of the fabric. For example, since my door was 35” wide, the fabric needed to be 39” long.
Step 2: Determine Fabric Width
Use the table below to find the width to cut the fabric for the diameter you want your draft dodger to be. Widths include the ½” wide seams on each side of the fabric.
|Fabric Width:||Tube Diameter:|
|10” wide fabric||2⅞” diameter tube|
|11” wide fabric||3⅛” diameter tube|
|12” wide fabric||3½” diameter tube|
|13” wide fabric||3⅞” diameter tube|
|14” wide fabric||4⅛” diameter tube|
|15” wide fabric||4½” diameter tube|
|16” wide fabric||4¾” diameter tube|
Step 3: Measure Fabric
Lay the fabric out flat on a table, and mark a rectangle from the dimensions above using a pen, pencil, or straight pins. The width can vary from 10” to 16”, depending on how fat you want your draft dodger. I cut my fabric 11” wide for a 3⅛” diameter draft dodger.
Step 4: Cut Fabric
Cut out the rectangle of fabric with scissors along your measurement lines.
Step 5: Fold and Sew Fabric
Fold the fabric rectangle in half lengthwise with the back side of the fabric facing out. Sew across one end and down the long side of the fabric about ½” in from the edge. Leave the other end open, so you have an inside-out tube.
Step 6: Turn Right Side Out
Turn the tube right side out. If you’d like, you can iron the seam so it will lay flat, but be careful not to put creases in the fabric.
Step 7: Fill Fabric Tube
Carefully pour your filling into the tube, I made a funnel by cutting out the bottom of a paper cup, and mine took about 7 pounds of rice. If you fill the tube to about 8” from the end, you’ll leave enough fabric to sew the end shut without spilling, and the filling will spread out and be nice and pliable when you’re done. It doesn’t have to be stuffed full; a little softness will help the draft dodger mold into the cracks.
Step 8: Sew Fabric Tube Closed
Fold the edges together so that the cut ends are tucked inside, and sew the end of the draft dodger closed. Decorate if you wish, and your draft dodger is finished!
Step 9: Install Draft Dodger
Place your draft dodger tightly against the bottom of a drafty door or against a windowsill to keep old man winter at bay!
No-Sew Draft Dodger
Has anybody else looked at these instructions and thought, “Wait a minute, why can’t I just use something that’s already tube-shaped, and save all that sewing?” Well, you can! You can make a no-sew draft dodger using:
- An old pair of tights or leggings
- Knee socks
- Tightly-knit sweater or shirt arms
Simply cut the leg or arm off the garment, stuff with filling, and tie the ends closed with a knot (or sew shut), and you’ve got the easiest draft dodger ever made. Some of the cutest ones I’ve seen have been made from crazy striped tights, another perfect holiday gift for the kids to make!
If you’ve been bitten by the draft dodger bug, there are all sorts of ways to be creative. Check out these patterns and ideas:
- 16 Door Draft Stoppers, Dodgers, & Snakes: Free Patterns (tipnut.com)
- McCall’s Patterns: Toy Animal Draft Dodgers (lanetzliving.net)
- Draft Dodger Crochet Pattern (redheart.com)
you can also use pantyhose before inserting into the sewn tube. if you have pets that chew everything,please make sure the filler is pet friendly—rice may be the best option–instead of tiny pebbles.
For interior,bedroom doors or others, I use the tube insulation that is sold for pipes. (1/2″) All you have to do is prey the tube open (where it is scored) and make sure you have the correct length to match the bottom of the door. Slide the opened tube onto bottom of the door..and your done!!Costs less than $1.00 for 2 doors.
In making a few door draft dodgers I would like to know the most effective filler. Rice or beans don’t seem like they would be good insulators
I have made draft dodgers and filled them with rice. The rice granules are small and assists the draft dodger to fit in all the crevices and cracks. It does the job.
We made 4 draft dodgers for a 48″ sliding glass deck door and side panels. For the doors we found 15″ was the best fabric width to stand from the floor and cover all seams. For the side panels 16″ was a better size. We alternated rice and shredded foam when filling. Rice was 50# for $16 at Costco; there is 20#’ish left over. Foam was $6 per bag at the fabric store (we used two). The family room is cozier already!
I’m using Martha’s instructions and she uses paper kitty litter for filler. I don’t feel like spending big bucks on it though for one draft dodger. You mentioned unscented kitty litter. I have three cats so I have standard litter. Does anyone know if they will be attracted to it and leave a little gift for me? Thanks.
I live in an area where, when wet, mice seem to find a way into the basement and migrate toward the heat. I’m a bit leery of using rice or any other “food”. What other weighted suggestions do you have?
@ Katherine, you could use small pea gravel or aquarium gravel for a non-food filler that won’t be attractive to mice.
I really don’t want to spend food money on this – what I do have is huge bales of pine chips for rabbit litter/bedding. Can I use those?
I heard that you could use newspapers to stuff draft dodgers. Do you shred them? Thank you
For the effort required to make a draft dodger you could just fix the door seal. Then you dont have to worry about any of the above. Not to mention, you dont have to move the draft dodger every time you open the door. My suggested filling would be shot. Small steel balls. They are heavy and they wont attract anything. And they pass right through mammals without harm.
In a pinch, I’ve used old bath towels and hand stitched (tacked) together then used clear packing tape. It works and when you are done with them for the season you can take the tape off and the stitching, wash and put away for the next season or cleaning rags or what ever you were keeping them for. I usually used in front of doors that were kept closed most of the time, but still needed to keep the cold out.
I would really like to print these directions, without all of the ads & comments…. Is this possible??
Absolutely, Becky! Just tap the printer icon below the article.
Thanks for commenting, and stay warm. 🙂