Two things you should know about me before we begin:
1) I am not a crafty person. I don’t get how things fit together; making something look pretty with my own two hands does not connect with my brain.
2) My flat is very old and hence very draughty. The front door literally has a couple centimeters of gap between it and the floor. Like so:
And at the moment, I’ve been using a towel to block the hideous draught or, in the case of the present, my running pants:
Now that you know those things about me, we can move on to the business at hand. I needed to buy a draught excluder. I’ve seen them at John Lewis, Selby’s (a one off old timey department store in Holloway akin to a run down mall anchor in central Pennsylvania. Needless to say I try to avoid) and all over Amazon, E-bay and Etsy. They have ones that look like snakes, dressed up in union jack or as a little sausage dog. I’ve even seen them at charity shops — full price. And they all cost way too much money for what they are. The time of year, perhaps?
So of course, when I realized how much I’d have to spend on a draught excluder, I decided naturally that I’d just make one. Now remember item #1? Yes, I forgot all about that too.
So when I mention it off hand at a get together with the in-laws, out comes MIL with two pieces of the most sumptuous fabric known to man. I would definitely want curtains and cushions professionally made out of these. Hell, I’d frame it, that is how beautiful the print.
They cost a bomb per meter in real life… however since she is in the business of getting free/leftover fabric samples from vendors/clients… it’s now all mine!
That was, btw, exactly one month ago today. It’s taken me that long to get off my lazy, unemployed expat ass and gather all the goodies I needed to get crafty.
So here is how you make a draught excluder from scratch if you don’t have a sewing machine or pins or those cool marking pencils or really anything to make crafty things with like stitch witchery or proper shears instead of the ones that you use to open up bags of frozen veg or Thai palm sugar (like I do, of course).
Oh. And the whole process has been illustrated with photographs, because that’s how I roll.
All of the tools are of an indeterminate age. I used to, back in my summer camp through high school days, make “friendship bracelets” that, later in life, became “cool multicoloured beaded necklaces” (ahem). I’d make them for friends, boyfriends, myself. A pop of colour next to my wrist full of black jelly bracelets. So shabby goth-chic!
I remember once staying with a friend and her family in a tent in the back yard of their house on Martha’s Vineyard. I also remember there was a bit of smoking substances around the camp fire, which is probably why I don’t remember too much about the weekend. But what really stands out for me was the expensive bead shop that we went to where I purchased a couple of hand made kiln blown tie died type beady numbers. You know what I mean. The ones that would go out of style really quick once the whole “Dazed and Confused” scene ended. Yeah, those. I still have them. All they are now are pretty reminders of a blip where I thought I could be crafty.
Back to the job at hand. Tools dug out of little tupperware bead (and buttons – where did I pick up so many buttons???) container.
It’s what I usually decide to put at the front door when I go running and need the pants. I placed this on the fabric and did a nasty little cutting job. Not exactly even but who’s counting when you are going to fold the fabric over anyway?
So now that you’ve folded over your fabric, get to threading that needle. In 10 minutes when you have finally got that damn thread through the bleeding needle, come back to me. I’ll be over here with a cup of decaf tea. (Btw, it only took me a few tries. I’m usually pretty adept at threading needles. Must be my perfect 20/20 vision. Not meaning to brag or anything).
And start on the short end. If you have a sewing machine, get threading that machine and start sewing. In an hour or so I’ll let you know when I’m done. Go grab yourself some lunch, you deserve it.
Okay, now you can start on the longer stretch. I did a bit of trimming to make the uneven edges match up a bit more. The trick to this part when hand stitching is to take breaks every once in a while to stretch out your hands (seriously ouch) and to try and keep the stitching even. I had an episode of “Escape to the Country” on the TV so I got to marvel at pretty country homes I can’t afford whilst sewing together my cheapo draught excluder. Ain’t this the life!
Let’s talk filling for a minute. I actually haven’t decided on mine yet. Some people put uncooked rice or beans. I shudder at the cost of buying a giant bag of beans. Surely not the same cost as a new, fancy, professionally sewn draught excluder, but still. It’s the principle of the matter, right?
Some people put those little polystyrene balls in them, like filling for a cheap bean bag chair. But again, this costs money. And then when you buy your 1.5 cubic feet of balls, what the hell are you going to do with the rest of the environmentally unfriendly bits? Definitely not enough for a bean bag chair of my own.
And then there are the recycling options. Bunch of old stuffed toys? 10 year old pillow that really could use a burning? Have an old stuffed chair that could go to the skip? Pillage those insides and use them for your excluder.
Me, I have an issue with using uncooked food for this project. In London? Think about it. There are things here called rats. I saw one the other day when walking up Parliament Hill. I got all excited by the wildlife. Birds! Squirrels! Ooo, what’s that! It’s — oh, it’s a rat. Anyway, with that mile-wide opening in the front door, it seemed tempting fate to place foodstuffs in front of it.
You already know my feeling about polystyrene. Yuck. And I don’t have any stuffed toys, 10 year old pillows or furniture to pillage. We just moved here. Everything is new. Lucky us.
So my plan is to buy a cheap pillow for a fiver from the Everything and Anything shop. That’s it’s name. It literally has everything and anything you need. And at cheap prices. Seriously, I don’t lie. I’ve purchased cleaning supplies, CFL lightbulbs, a sieve and the worst, now broken after three uses, can opener in the world. All of them for a quid each. RIP can opener. RIP.
But for now, I am stuffing my empty shell of a draught excluder with the towel I used to put in front of the door. It was made to measure, after all. Once you do decide on your filling, be sure to turn your excluder right side out, be impressed for a moment by your stitching genius (go on!), and then place it aside. Grab your filling and stuff it inside the chopped off leg of an old, run-ey pair of nylons. This way you can remove the filling for easy storage or washing of the outer shell. Sensible, eh?
And then seal it up. I’ve decided to, when I get around to filling this puppy, using a button to do so. I think it’ll look quite pretty. Some people just pin it back or… well, I actually don’t know how to sew this up in a proper way without it being inside out again. Like I said before. Me + crafts = no idea. Don’t even talk to me about how to reinforce a button hole!
Fantastic eh? I think so. Too bad the lighting doesn’t bring out just how pretty the fabric really is. You’ll just have to come visit and have a look!
So here is the cost breakdown:
Total cost: £0.00
Next project: The rest of the fabric will make a great couch cushion cover as well as curtains. In the hallway there is this window we simply must talk about…