DIY GoPro Case from a Wetsuit

Yeah, I’m officially one of those people who broke down and bought a GoPro. I’ve been enjoying it, but I haven’t been using it to demonstrate my “heroness”. It’s a great learning tool, to show me what I’m doing wrong- or occasionally right- when I’m surfing or SUPing. I also can’t wait to take it diving.
The thing’s so small, much improved from the old video recorder waterproof cases, but didn’t come with a stinkin’ case. $300 bucks and no case. Really? So I’ve taken to removing the camera after my surf, wrapping it in a towel in a clean, sand free beach bag to transport it back to the car where I hopefully don’t drop the camera when I unwrap the towel to rinse the thing off.
Being that neoprene is so useful, and is plentiful since most surfers can plow through a wetsuit in a couple of seasons, even around here, it’s always good to make the most of that expensive material if you can’t sell it or it got ripped.
For this project, I’m going to use a much loved vest I’ve had for 6 or 7 years but has been replaced. I wanted to breathe new life into it by using it for this project.

My surf vest (I cut the sleeves off- got to be different, ya know?)

First off, I needed to make I pattern for my case. I decided I wanted to make a cylindrical case, that has a drawstring closure at the top. I needed to make sure I had enough space to put the camera in even if I put the special floaty back on it, so I set it on my gridded cutting table to look it over:

Side view
Top view

This gave me an idea to make the bottom of the case a 5″ diameter circle. I took a compass, set it to a 2.5″ radius, and drew out a circle on plain paper, then cut it out. It seemed to fit the case pretty well, without a lot of slop:

Within the pattern bottom

Next, I needed to figure out how tall I wanted my case to be, keeping in mind that this will drawstring closed, so I’ll need a little extra at the top.

Determining height of the case

I settled on a 5″ height, since the bottom will be sewn to the side with minimal seam allowance by a blanket stitch. I also had to calculate circumference to make sure the side would go all the way around the outer edge of the bottom, to make my cylinder. To do that, I multiplied Pi (3.14) by my diameter of the bottom (5″) to come up with about 15.7″. Since I’m not making wheels for a Beemer, I rounded up to 16″ (significant digits anyway, remember those? Blech.) So I made my rectangular pattern by taping two sheets together and cutting out those measurements.

Side pattern

Now if you’ve read any of my other projects with neoprene, I like to pin the pattern to the neoprene with staples. They lay flatter than traditional pins since the neoprene’s so thick. For the bottom, I decided to keep the “GoSurf” logo, and use the back of the vest for the side.

Laying out the pattern
Laying out the pattern
Pattern stapled down and cutting around pattern

Once everything was cut out, I was ready to start sewing. I used 4 lb fishing line and a heavy SHARP needle- now’s a good time to use a thimble for work gloves, trust me.

Pattern pieces and Fireline (fishing line, 4 lb)

I started with a blanket stitch to join the side seam together of my rectangle. If you don’t know how to blanket stitch, check this out.
Once I had made the spine, I kept the same thread and kept going to attach the bottom. Note that the seams are on the OUTSIDE of the case, and it will not be turned inside out.

Starting to join the bottom

Here’s the cylinder when complete, you can see the spine at the top:

Finished cylinder looking inside

Next, I needed to make my drawstring. For the holes, I used a regular hole punch, but you may need to clip the holes if the punch doesn’t go all the way through. I punched 10 holes, evenly spaced, about 1/2″ from the top edge. I’m not using grommets for a couple of reasons: first, they will rust (EVERYTHING does), second, I don’t want to scratch anything. Besides, I am making a handle for this so I will not be using this drawstring as a carrier that will put a lot of stress on the holes. The edges of the neoprene won’t fray.

Punching holes in the top edge

For the drawstring, I used a regular shoestring, and I got a locking fastener for drawstrings that you can pick up in any craft or fabric store, or take one off of an old drawstring bag.

Shoestring and adjustable fastener

Thread the shoestring in and out of the holes, making sure that the ends come out to the front of the bag (in this case, I made the seam the “back” of the bag). Thread the ends through the locking fastener, open the bag as wide as possible, and knot the ends of the string! If you don’t, you’ll be threading over and over again.

Drawstring threaded

Next, for the handle, I used some nylon webbing 1″ wide and cut 18″ long to make a loop. Don’t forget to singe the ends of the nylon webbing where you cut for it will fray out.

Making the handle

I’m going to baste this folded piece together on the sewing machine, then I’m going to sew the handle end onto the OUTSIDE of the bag, about 1-2″ down from the top edge, making sure I don’t catch the drawstring at the top of the bag. Of course, you can also do this part by hand, but use a strong needle and a small rubber mallet may help push the needle through all of the layers. On the machine, I used a Denim weight needle (100). I used regular poly thread to sew with, but you can use fishing line if sewing by hand.
First, I sewed the bottom edge of the handle loop (make sure the drawstring is out of the way!) by making some passes back and forth on the machine. You can use a straight stitch, but a zig zag is always good, especially along the bottom edge.

Sewing on the handle along the bottom edge of the handle

I did this again, but at the top edge of the bag (again, stay clear of the drawstring!) to make it doubly secure.

Sewing on the handle along the top edge of the bag

Next, I wanted to stiffen up the bottom of the bag a bit so the camera wouldn’t make the bag droopy, so I used the same pattern circle I used for the bottom of the bag and cut a piece of an old plastic placemat out. You can also use plastic folders, anything plastic that can be cut with scissors and has a bit of stiffness. I did cut the circle a hair smaller than the original pattern to ensure it would lay flat in the bottom of the bag.

Super cool placemat!

So that’s it. Here’s a pic with my GoPro inside the case:

My precious….

Here’s a couple more from the outside, hanging by the handle, and then just sitting on the table:

Hangin’ out
Bottom side!

Now when I rinse off my camera, I can rinse the case off too and let it dry. As a bonus, a black case made from old neoprene doesn’t exactly scream “come steal me!”. Well, that is, except the people who know me and I just gave myself away on here.
I’ll let you steal my flip flops, ok?

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