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How to make a draught excluder

Ros Badger / 16 October 2015 ( 03 April 2020 )

Recycle an old wool blanket and keep the heating bills down by making your own draught excluder.

Homemade draught excluder
Make your home feel nice and cosy with this homemade draught excluder

My lovely mother-in-law was a primary school teacher in the Eighties and one of her favourite projects was to teach her pupils how to make a snake draught excluder.

The children were asked to bring a wide tie into school – and as this was the post-Seventies, there was an abundance of kipper ties with masses of patterns to choose from. The pupils would stuff the tie, sew up the widest end, which then became the mouth, sew on buttons as the eyes and end up with the perfect present for Granny.

Things have moved on, but a draught excluder is still a very useful addition to the home. The one I’ve designed and made here also recycles fabric – it’s a little smarter than the school snake!

A tired wool blanket is the perfect fabric to use. I chose a striped one that had unfortunately acquired a few moth holes. It’s very satisfying to give such material a second life as something pretty and practical.

For more crafty ideas, visit our Craft & Hobbies section

You will need

  • An old wool blanket
  • A computer (or a marker pen)
  • Embroidery thread or wool
  • Pins, needles and thread
  • Old material, for stuffing

How to make

Step 1

Measure the width of your door; the doors in my house are all different, so bear this in mind if making more than one excluder.

Step 2

Measure and cut out your fabric, 34cm (13in) by your measured width, plus an extra 3cm (1in) to allow for a 1.5cm (½in) seam at each end. For guidance, my piece of fabric measured 83 x 34cm (about 32 x 13in).

Step 3

Decide on a suitable word you’d like to embroider. I settled on Cosy, but lots of other comforting words or phrases would work just as well.

Step 4

If you have a computer, type the word and then experiment with different typefaces and font sizes.

I finally decided on ‘Iris’ at size 200 because I wanted something cursive. Print out.

If you don’t have a computer, you could simply write your word onto a piece of paper using a marker pen.

Step 5

Now transfer the word onto your fabric using a pencil. The easiest way to do this is to use a window as a light box. Attach the paper to the window pane with a piece of tape. Having marked the centre of your fabric with a pin, place it over the paper, matching it to the centre of your word and trace over the outline with a pencil.

Step 6

I used a four-ply mercerised cotton and satin stitch to embroider ‘Cosy’ but a knitting wool works just as well.

Step 7

When the embroidery is finished, fold your work in half horizontally, right sides together, and sew along the long seam in order to make your ‘sausage’.

Step 8

Lay your ‘sausage’ out flat and lightly press the seam open so that it now runs down the centre rather than the edge of your work, then sew up one end, leaving the other end open to stuff. Turn your ‘sausage’ out to the right side and stuff with whatever old material you have available.

Step 9

Hand stitch the final seam by folding and pinning in the ends of your fabric and securing with a small catch stitch.


If you would like your draught excluder to have more of a sausage shape, fold the top and bottom corners together at either end so that they meet in the centre and stitch together; you could use your embroidery thread here too to make it stand out or even add a button at each end.

Looking to make your home feel warm for winter? Read our guide to making your home feel cosy to beat the cold.


The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.