Introduction: Huge Pencil Draft Excluder

About: I love creating. I love ART in all its forms. I am a daughter of the 50s, born in 1992. I had the pleasure to be a Featured Author on this fabulous site, and you can read my interview here: https://www.instr…

If you don't know what a draft excluder is, let me try to explain it.
A draft excluder is kind of like a long snake made with fabric and wadding or upholstery foam. It is used to keep the house warmer during cold days, laying it on the floor at the bottom of a door or a window. That way the cold air that comes in from that slot doesn't make the house colder.
Like I said many times before, I am not good at sewing, but as soon as I saw the Sewing Contest I thought that this would have been the perfect opportunity for me to try and learn!
I already had the idea of creating a huge pencil shaped draft excluder because the one I had was old and ugly. The only way to do it was sewing it so, it took me a while and it's far from being perfect, but I finally did it! I must thank my mother for her patience in teaching and helping me how to do it :)

I didn't have a nice colored fabric for it so I decided to make some kind of patchwork, sewing together many pieces of fabric from one of those sample books that you can find in upholstery shops. I have those because my father was an upholsterer but you can easily find them too because once the fashion changes (and that often happens) they don't need them anymore.
I am going to show you how to make this big pencil with those samples since it turned out nice after all, but you are free to make one with a big piece of fabric that you like.

Have fun! :)

Step 1: What You Need

  • upholstery foam 12cm thick (4.72 inches) and about as long as your door
  • foam rubber saw or knife (something to cut the foam)
  • ruler
  • pieces of colored fabric
  • sewing machine
  • scissors
  • pen/pencil
  • (curved) needle and thread

Step 2: Cut the Foam

The first thing you have to do is cutting the structure of your draft excluder.
My piece of upholstery foam was already as long as my door, so I didn't have to cut it that way. If yours is too long just cut it, and if it's too short you can glue 2 pieces together.

Now you need to cut a long rectangular piece of foam. The thickness of the longest sides must be the same so, since the thickness is 12cm (4.72 inches), you need to measure 12cm on the other side too. 
Trace a line and cut it using a foam saw or a knife.
What you have obtained is a long piece of foam with 4 long sides as rectangles and 2 smaller sides as squares.

Step 3: Measure the Sides

A pencil usually has 6 sides and that's also the way the foam has to become.
For this reason, you need to divide the 4 long sides in 6 smaller ones.
To do this, divide 2 of the opposite sides in half (6cm - 2.36 inches) and trace a line.
Then trace 2 lines on each of the other two sides. These lines need to be 6cm distant from each other, that means that they are both 3cm (1.18 inches) distant from the border.

The 6cm sections that you have just created will be some of the sides of your foam pencil, so you need to remember that from now on.

Step 4: The Smaller Sides

One of the smallest sides of foam will be the flat top of the pencil and the other one will become the tip of the pencil.
To do this, you need to look at the lines you made previously and join them together on both of the smallest sides. This way you will obtain an hexagon. It won't be really perfect but that doesn't matter too much.
As you do this, you will notice that the edges of the foam won't be part of the hexagon. This means that those parts will be cut out.

Now choose the side that will become the tip of the pencil: trace a little circle in the middle of the hexagon that you have just drawn. That little circle will be the actual tip of the pencil. Even though tips are usually sharp, consider the whole proportion of the big pencil so don't make it too small.

Continue to work on the tip side and decide how long the end of the pencil will be. 
I decided that mine would be about 15cm (5.9 inches) so, starting from the hexagon side, I measured 15cm and traced a line on the longest sides. This way you'll have 2 separated rectangular parts.

Step 5: Cut the Sides

Use your foam saw or knife to cut the sides of the pencil. 
Don't consider the tip now, you'll cut it in the next step. Simply cut the hexagonal shape on the whole piece of foam.
Basically, you have to cut out the 4 edges following the lines you traced.

Step 6: Cut the Tip

Since you have just cut out 4 pieces, the lines that you traced to divide the tip from the rest of the pencil are "broken" now, so make sure to join them together again before you start cutting.

Now, starting from those lines, make oblique cuts that arrive to the border of the circle in the middle of the hexagon.
Keep doing this all around the tip of the pencil until you obtain a pretty good pencil tip. Don't worry, it doesn't need to be perfect.

The structure of the draft excluder/pencil is done!

This was definitely the best part to me, I had a lot of fun doing it and was super satisfied of the result :D

Step 7: Sew the Fabric Samples

The second part of this project consists in sewing the fabric to create the cover of the pencil foam.

First of all I cut many pieces of fabric out of the samples book I had.
Once you have all your pieces, you are ready to start sewing!

Take 2 pieces of fabric (different colors), keep them one against each other and sew one of their borders together.
When you are done sewing you can open them up again and the side where the seam is invisible will be the front.

Take another piece of fabric and place it against one of the pieces that you have just sewn and, just like you did before, sew the border together. 
Continue this way adding more pieces so that your piece of fabric will become longer.
This will be one of the sides of the pencil, so measure your foam pencil and make sure that the piece of fabric you are making is a little longer than the foam (tip excluded). Better longer than shorter! :)

Make other 5 long pieces of fabric like that, always joining different colors together.

Step 8: Sew the Sides Together

The 6 strips of fabric that you have just prepared will be the sides of the pencil. But you have probably noticed that they are larger than the actual sides. 
For this reason, take one of them and draw a 6,5cm thick strip (2.55 inches) on its back.
The pencil foam's side was originally 6cm but I added 5mm because the cuts weren't perfect so I thought it was better that way. You can take your piece of foam anyway and measure the sides again to make sure that you are working with the right measures.

Now place that fabric strip on one of the others with their front sides facing each other, and sew them together following one of the lines that you have just traced.

When you are done, look at the back of that other strip and, starting from the seam you've just made, measure 6,5cm again and trace a line.
Place another strip against the front side and sew them together following the last line, just like you did before.

You have to do this same exact thing for all the strips, until you have sewn all of them together.
This way you are sure that your fabric sides are the same size as the foam sides.

Trace the same line on the first and last strips too. You don't need them right away but you'll still need them later.

Step 9: Cut the Tip Pattern

The tip of the pencil looked like the hardest part to me, but once you understand how it works you can easily do it!

First of all I used a sheet of newspaper to draw the right pattern for it.
Roll it around the pencil foam's tip, secure with tape, and mark the end of the cone, which is the part where the large part of the tip ends.
Also, make sure that you trace a line where the side of the newspaper meets the other side. Basically that's the side where you sticked the tape.
Finally, trace a line all around the cone where the fake pencil mine will begin.

When you are done, remove the tape and the newspaper from the foam and open it up.
The shape you'll see is the fabric shape that will cover the tip of the pencil.
Cut it.

Step 10: Cut the Fabric for the Tip

The tip of the pencil has 2 different colors so you need 2 different pieces of fabric.
I used one in beige for what would be the wooded part, and a black/grey one for the pencil mine.

Let's start with the beige part.
Place your paper pattern on the beige fabric and trace its outline, keeping it a little bigger than the actual size. I made it about 1cm (0.39 inches) bigger on each side.
Cut the fabric following the lines you traced and remember to cut out the tip part that is going to be black instead.

On the paper pattern, divide the mine part from the rest of the tip and place that small part on the black piece of fabric.
Again, trace a bigger outline and cut it.

You have both the pieces for the tip now.

Step 11: Sew the Tip

You need to sew the two parts of the tips you've just cut now.
To do this, simply place the border of the black piece (the round border) on the smallest border of the beige piece and sew there.
This isn't really perfect but you are free to sew it another way if you prefer! :)

Now the tip piece is done and you need to sew it to one of the short sides of the fabric patchwork you did before.

Since the side of the tip piece is round and the one of the other colored piece is straight, it's harder to sew it well. For this reason, I placed both around the pencil foam (where they are going to be) and secured them with pins. 
Once you are done doing this, you can remove the fabric from the foam and, without removing the pins, sew the borders together.
I placed them in a way that the beige part would come out on the outside and covers the border of the other piece of fabric.

Even if this is far from being perfect, I like it. But, again, if you have a better way to sew it, do it! :D

Step 12: Close the Fabric Tube

The fabric piece you have now is still flat. You need to close it to form a tube.
To do this, you have to join and sew the 2 long sides together following the lines you traced in step 8. Remember to work on the inside (back) of the fabric. 
When you finally reach the tip part, keep sewing their sides together until you reach the very tip of the "mine".
Once you are done, cut all the exceeding parts and turn your tube so that all the parts where you see the seams will be on the inside of the cover.

Your cover is ready so insert the pencil foam inside that tube now.
This is a pretty hard thing to do because the foam doesn't slip fine with fabric. If you have this problem too, you can cover the foam with a nylon bag, plastic wrap or whatever helps slipping, and remove it at the end when you are done. You can even leave it there if you prefer, it's fine!

Step 13: Cover the Last Side

You still have one last side to cover that will close the whole tube.
Trace a bigger outline of the hexagonal side on a piece of fabric (I used a white one) and cut it.

Now you have to sew that piece to the rest of the pencil to close it.
I used a curved needle and thread for this, but I think that a regular needle will work fine too.
Insert the sides of the hexagonal piece of fabric between the foam and colored fabric, fold the colored fabric a little to hide the edges, and simply sew all around the hexagon.

Your big pencil is done!!! Admire how cool it is! :D

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