Introduction: Sew Your Own Draft Stopping Door Snake!

About: Enthusiastic hiker, quilter and creator with a passion for making the most of every situation and finding the best and easiest way to do anything!

When fierce northern winters arrive, we need our homes to be cozy. Drafts under doors and windows let heat out and cold in.

To solve this problem, I decided to sew a draft stopping door snake from some fleece scraps, with the goal of creating something both functional and fun to cover the gap under the door. This is an easy instructable - and there's a short-cut version at the end if you want to make a door snake that is functional without being quite so decorative.

Step 1: Measure Door Width and Decide on Snake's Dimensions and Design

As you can see, there was a serious gap under my door, letting in cold air, light and noise. A draft-stopping door snake to the rescue!

First, take some measurements.

The door was 30" wide, so the snake had to be at least this long. I decided to make my snake about 36" long, with lots of stripes created by using strips of different fabrics.

In order to end up with a 36' long finished door snake, I started with a total of 46" in fabric strips, recognizing that the snake would shrink once all the seams in my striped snake were sewn. The more strips of fabric you use, the more you will lose in seams. If you made the snake from all one fabric you would only need one 36" long piece of fabric.

I cut fabric strips ranging from 4" long at the tail tail (thinnest part) increasing to 6 1/2" from the centre of the body to the head.

I cut the printed strips 2" wide and the solid strips 1 1/2" wide.

Step 2: Gather Fabric and Supplies

To make this snake you will need:

  • leftover fleece scraps - you can use an old polyester fleece jacket or pullover, or even an old wool sweater. I had lots of leftover scraps from fleece sewing projects to use up. You could also buy new fabric.
  • Rotary cutter and self-healing mat and ruler, or just a pair of scissors
  • wire to shape snake's jaw and tongue (optional)
  • rice or dried lentils/beans to stuff the snake with and give it body

Step 3: Cut Fabric in Strips

Cut the fabric in strips according to your taste and the size of your leftovers.

I cut the printed fabric in 2" wide strips, and the solid fabrics in 1 1/2" wide strips, with the strips ranging from 4" long to 6 1/2" long. This creates a snake with a narrow tail and thicker body. You could simplify this by cutting all strips 6 1/2" long.

Step 4: If Using a Serger, Clean Lint From the Serger and Sew Test Patch

Before you sew, and part way through sewing, check to make sure that your serger is clean. Fleece produces a huge amount of lint and fluff, which clogs things up and makes it hard for the serger to function smoothly. Use a cotton swab to remove any visible fluff or lint. It's also a good idea to sew a test sample before starting to sew in order to make sure the serger is sewing well and that tensions are properly adjusted for your fabric. My 30 year old serger is on its last legs and needs all the help it can get!

If you don't have a serger you can sew the fabric strips together with a regular sewing machine, which will work fine but the seam won't have the elasticity of a serged seam, or as neat an edge finish. You could also sew the strips together by hand.

Step 5: Sew Strips Together With Serger or Sewing Machine

Lay out all your strips and rearrange them until the order is pleasing to your eye.

Keeping them in order, pin strips together in pairs, and serge or sew each pair together, keeping right sides together. You can save time and thread by "chain piecing" - sewing all the pairs together without stopping and starting or cutting the thread between pairs. You will end up with a long chain of sewn pairs (see last photo), still in order. I used a narrow seam allowance of about 1/3" for all the seams in this snake.

Don't worry too much about thread colour as the thread will be very hard to see. I had red thread in my serger so went with that!

Step 6: Sew Groups of Two Together, and Keep Sewing Until All Strips Are Joined Together

Cut the threads between the pairs of strips and lay them out, making sure you are still happy with the order of the strips.

Sew the groups of two strips to each other, creating groups of four strips.

Then sew the groups of 4 together until all strips are joined.

Trim the edges of your joined strip unit with rotary cutter or scissors, so the edge is smooth as in the last photo.

Step 7: Cut and Sew Two "jaw" Sections

You will need an upper and lower jaw for your snake. I decided to use a yellowy orange scrap for the inside of the jaw, and a black scrap for the outside of the jaw/head, so I cut two yellow and two black pieces of fleece, 3 3/4" wide and 5 1/2" long.

Serge or sew one black piece to one yellow piece, right sides together, leaving the flat side open (this side will be attached to the snake body). Repeat so you have an upper and lower jaw section. Turn jaw pieces right sides out so the seam is on the inside.

Step 8: Cut Two Tongue Pieces and Sew Together

Cut two identical long narrow strips from red fleece for the snake's tongue, about 2 " wide and 7" long (the tongue should be longer than the jaw pieces). The strip should taper to a narrow point at the tip of the tongue.

Serge or sew the two tongue sections together, right sides facing out, keeping the wider end at the base of the tongue open. You will NOT turn this piece inside out as it is too narrow to do so easily.

Take a 17" piece of wire, firm enough to hold a shape, but soft enough to shape with your hands or pliers, and form it into a shape similar to that of the tongue. Insert the wire into the tongue. I buried one of the loose wire ends in the tongue and left one sticking out (see last photo) but you could also leave both ends sticking out.

Step 9: Sew Tongue to One of the Jaw Pieces

Fold down about 1/3" on one edges of the jaw lining fabric (the yellow fabric) and sew (don't serge) the tongue under this piece of fabric, being careful not to catch the outer jaw fabric (the black fabric) in this seam. You will be sewing over the wire end that sticks out of the tongue, so you may want to hand guide your machine when it is stitching over the wire to avoid hitting the wire with the needle.

Step 10: Sew the Long Side of the Snake Together

Sew or serge the long side of the snake together, right sides together, starting at the tip of the tail (and closing off this end). Leave about 4" open in this side seam at the wide end of the snake - this will make it easier to attach the jaw pieces to the top of your snake tube.

Turn your snake tube right side out.

Step 11: Attach Jaw/head Pieces to the Body of the Snake

Pin the black side of one of the jaw/head pieces to the snake body, right sides together.

Pull out the top few stitches (1/3" or so) on the side seams of the jaw/head piece, so that you can sew the black piece completely to the body piece, without catching any of the yellow lining fabric.

Sew one jaw/head piece to the snake body, right sides together, keeping lining fabric out of the way.

Repeat with the second jaw/head piece, attaching it directly next to the first jaw/head piece on the snake body.

Step 12: Add Wire to Jaw/head Pieces

Bend a long piece of wire into a large oval, sized to fit inside both jaw/head pieces, with one side of the oval inside each of the jaw/head pieces. Twist the loose ends of the wire together with your fingers or pliers to join them. The wire will enable you to shape the jaws of the snake into whatever position you want.

Step 13: Sew Up Last 4" of Snake Side Seam by Hand

Now sew up the remaining part of the side seam of the snake body by hand, continuing past the body to tidy up any open bits of the jaw/head piece.

Step 14: Stuff Snake With Rice or Other Filling

Using the mouth opening, stuff the snake with rice or other filling. (e.g. lentils, beans, or dust free kitty litter).

Stuff in as much as possible, including into the two jaw/head pieces.

Step 15: Hand Sew Mouth Opening Closed

Now that your snake is stuffed, hand sew the mouth opening closed. Keeping the piece with the tongue on the bottom, fold under about 1/3" of the raw edge of the yellow fabric on the top piece so that there are no raw edges exposed, and slipstitch by hand.

Step 16: Attach Googly Eyes to Snake (optional)

I found "googly eyes" in the craft section of a local dollar store, and used fabric glue to glue them to the snake's head to give him a more expressive look.

Step 17: Arrange Your Draft Stopping Door Snake in Place and Stay Warm!

The draft stopping door snake proved to be very effective at keeping out drafts and helping us to stay warm.

When not being deployed to stop drafts, the snake stays coiled up, ready for use - we think it's quite cute!

You can make a much simpler version of this snake by cutting a 6 1/2" X 36" rectangle, sewing 3 sides and leaving one end open, stuffing it with rice, and then hand sewing the last end closed.

Sew Warm Contest 2018

Runner Up in the
Sew Warm Contest 2018