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Stop Drafts with A Chic Weighted Door Pillow

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According to the U.S. Department of Energy, drafty doors and windows account for 11 percent of the heat loss in an average home. Wow! This door draft buster is a weighted pillow (we used inexpensive dried beans) that stretches across the base of the door to keep cold air from blowing in and warm air from escaping. It's easy to do in an afternoon, using new fabric or scraps on hand. Why not make one as a gift and another to help cut down your own utility bill?

While you can make our door draft buster from just one piece of extra-wide fabric, it's a more interesting project with a variety of colors and patterns. You can piece together scraps however you choose, or follow what we did. Stitch together as many pieces as you like, but don't forget to add in the ½" seam allowances if you use more than the five described below for our sample. We used three pieces of 100% cotton Woolies Flannel by Maywood. And, yes, it is just as cozy as it looks. We found a good selection of Woolies Flannel online at Fabric.com and Fabric Depot.

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

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The size of your door will determine the amount of fabric you need. We used a standard 36" door to size ours. If your door is larger or smaller, add or subtract the difference from one or more of the patchwork pieces shown.

  • We used 100% cotton flannel. While we bought a half yard each of three flannels, you could also use scraps of any woven fabric you have on hand.
  • Approximately 14-16 cups of filler material
    NOTE: You can use dried navy beans as we did, or other weighty fillers such as dried peas or rice. We also read of people using kitty litter, and we considered aquarium gravel, but both seemed a bit too dusty to work with.
  • Plastic bags to hold the filler; we used four of the narrow plastic bags used on home-delivered newspapers. You could also use the legs from an old pair of pantyhose or tights
  • 1 yard of ribbon to coordinate with your fabrics; we used ⅜" wide grosgrain
  • See-through ruler
  • Tape measure
  • Fabric pen or pencil
  • Seam gauge
  • Seam ripper
  • Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Straight pins
  • Hand sewing needle

Getting Started

  1. Measure the bottom of your door. Our instructions are based on a standard 36" wide door.
  2. Preshrink and press your fabric prior to cutting, especially if you use flannel.
  3. Cut fabric pieces (see the diagram below for A-B-C positions):
    Fabric A: cut TWO pieces 13" wide x 12" long.
    Fabric B: cut TWO pieces 13" wide x 10" long.
    Fabric C: cut ONE piece 13" wide x 15" long.

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

  1. Pin and stitch your five pieces of fabric together as shown in the diagram below. Remember to stitch with right sides together and to use a ½" seam allowance. 

  2. Press seams inward toward Fabric B and topstitch as shown.
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  3. Fold your finished patchworked panel lengthwise, right sides together.
  4. Stitch the long side together, using a ½" seam allowance, to form a tube.
  5. Press seam open.
  6. Press a double-fold hem along the raw edges of both ends of the tube. To do this, turn up the raw edge ½" and press.
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  7. Then turn up an additional 4" and press again.
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  8. Pin and hem by hand to form a 4" wide hem on both ends of the tube.
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  9. Turn your tube right side out. Press as needed.

Filling the Tube

  1. Fill 3 or 4 plastic bags with about 4 cups of beans each. Squeeze out most of the air, leaving a couple inches at the top of the bag empty. Tie a knot in all but one bag. Close this last bag with a twist tie instead so you can add or subtract beans as necessary. When you lay the bags flat, they should fill the empty space and allow some give and take in the bag.
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  2. Slide one or two of the bags into the tube. Tie an 18" piece of ribbon into a neat, tight bow four inches from the end of the tube.
  3. From the other end of the tube, insert the remaining bags. If you need to adjust the amount of beans in the last bag, you can easily do so by removing the twist tie. Once you have the fill at the correct level, tie a knot in the last bag as you did with the other bags.
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  4. Tie another ribbon at the opposite end of the tube to close it.
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Hints and Tips

The door buster is, by necessity, weighty. If you're making a door buster as a gift, it may be easier to wrap and/or send it empty. Just tie the ribbons where they go at either end, include the plastic bags for beans with instructions on how to fill.


Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Alicia Thommas


Comments (19)

Dorthea said:
Dorthea's picture

Instead of the Plastic Bags....which I worry will sweat....I used the leg of an old pair of leotards / nylons for the inner part holding the navy beans. ....If you use regular nylons...use 2 legs and double up the bean holder inner section for strength and it can breath so no mildew issues

Suzette said:
Suzette's picture

Thank you for taking the time to give instructions. I made this yesterday with a few modifications and it came out great! Your instructions were easy to follow, even for novices like me. I didn't have the plastic bags you mentioned so I used a large black trash bag. I tied off one end and pushed the bag down with my yardstick. Then I used my birdseed scoop which has a folding bin and a sliding latch to release the item, in this case rice, from the small funnel like area. I then tied off the trash bag and tied off the draft stopper. Voila! My husband and I are both much happier without the draft coming through the front door. Especially since it got down to the single digits in the last couple of days.

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ Suzette - Thanks for describing your alternative filler idea. We happy to help you stay toasty!

Maggie53 said:
Maggie53's picture

Consider using other bags rather than the newspaper tubes.  Those are designed to be biodegradable and will crumble into a plastic-like dust within say a couple of weeks.  How I know? We have used these as puppy pooper bags on dog walks.  Open the bag pouch and plastic crumbs float out everywhere!  One degraded bag makes a mess!

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ Palak - thanks for the share... but sorry about that cold a'comin'!

pianocat8 said:
pianocat8's picture

Great way to use up those fabric scraps and make one for different holidays, etc.

Sewandsewon said:
Sewandsewon's picture

My girlfriend just last night was talking about another draft stopper.  And when we were assessing what we needed here, well I'm going to be making these.  Thanks Sew4Home.

Abi said:
Abi's picture

Hello, friends! just buy a Janome  4120 QDC, but I used (in an old sewing machine)  nylon thread (synthetic) # 40 (is very thick According to the instructions of the machine, yes, you can use this thread, but when I tried it and I have been locked after a small panic attack, cause tangled thread below, I could remove the thread locked. I need quilting cotton gabardine average, batting and waterproof fabric .... What is it I'm doing wrong? Is there a special foot for it?. Should I buy a special thread for it?. I am very interested to meet me because I admire your site and I know that they are people with much experience in Janome. More than anything need to be told what is suitable for sewing thread raincoat, as are projects with much use by teenagers. Thank you! (Sorry for my bad English, but not my tongue) A great affection from Argentina.

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ Abi - troubleshooting specific machine issues is very hard long distance. I can't tell from your description, but it sounds like your are using a monofiliment thread. If so, you may need to loosen your upper tension slightly. It's also a good idea to lengthen your stitch and sew at a slow and even pace. This type of thread does not stretch as well as regular thread and can break more easily under pressure, especially if it accidentally slides off the spool and wraps around the spool pin. Using a spool cap against the spool helps hold it in place on the pin, and again, going slowly and evenly helps the thread to feed correctly off the spool. With all the thick layers, you may also want to use a Walking foot for better feeding. Beyond that, perhaps a trip to your dealer would be best so he could test the machine.

Abi said:
Abi's picture

Do not know how much I appreciate the prompt response!. I will consider your advice and try it that way, but if not, unfortunately I will have to change the thread. I was checking and is a nylon thread # 40/3 (three strands retaliation) ... I think it just might be too thick for the machine. The mark of wire is Vahe and maybe not know because it's local industry. It is a very good fiber, but I did not realize that maybe I should work with a finer thread. Thanks again for answering so quickly.

vmfc said:
vmfc's picture

Tambien tengo una Janome y soy de argentina, te recomiendo que preguntes en el lugar donde compraste la máquina, o donde dictan el curso de aprendizaje. la Janome es genial!!! yo la amo..tal vez necesites de un porta carretel mas abierto, hay unos así para hacer quilting libre, cuidá la tensión y el número de aguja, es una máquina muy sensible a todo esto pero funciona maravillosamente. juanma es mi lugar preferido.Que tengas suerte !!!!!

Alex Efthemis said:
Alex Efthemis's picture

Love this idea. Great for the holidays in holiday colors!  I'm going to do this. 

Sharon C said:
Sharon C's picture

Could you add moth balls or essential oils to repel bugs?  Or use a cedar chips with another filler?

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ Sharon C - we've not tired this idea. The cedar chips might be able to scented with essential oils, although I'm unsure how well they would hold the scent. You couldn't use plastic bags if you wanted scent to come through, so you'd need to use some sort of mesh instead to hold the filler.

Krys B said:
Krys B's picture

I did simular thing years ago.  I used kittie litter, sewn a tube to hold it all and knitted decorative tube to make it look better.  They are great for summer or winter.

vonda said:
vonda's picture

That's a great idea. I worry about the filler absorbing moisture and molding.  This way, it could be washable.

vonda said:
vonda's picture

That's a great idea. I worry about the filler absorbing moisture and molding.  This way, it could be washable.

stephonic said:
stephonic's picture

Great project - and so simple I could see doing holiday versions to switch out over the course of the winter!