Deluxe Beach Cover Up DIY

Even though I’ve made a simple one of these beach cover-ups before, I wanted something a bit more substantial. I also wanted one that was a bit wider for getting into and out of my wetsuits easier. Wider. Yikes. I also wanted to put a hood on this one in case the wind is howling in the parking lot when I get out.
So, I procured a couple of big beach towels from the local outlet store. Outlet stores are the best for good towels- they’re as cheap as Walmart, but last longer since they’re made for a department store. Just don’t get picky about what color/print/etc. For the hood, I went to the clearance bin and found a single hand towel with a funky fiesta print.

My beach towels are approximately 32″ wide by 66″ long

For this project, instead of sewing down each long side (which is over 5 feet long, remember), I’m going to make the side seams the short edges of the towel. 32 inches will be plenty long enough to cover me, but not so long that it will be difficult to change with.
First thing, I cut off any tags on the towel- I don’t want to take the chance and sew over the extra bulk.

Nautica doesn’t make these cover ups!

Next, I pinned (technically clipped) one of the long sides together with the LOOPY SIDE OF EACH TOWEL FACING OUT, and the groomed, soft sides together,. This seems a little weird, but the loopy side is the most absorbent. The other long side will be the bottom opening of the cover up when we turn it inside out. I pinned/clipped all the way across, but the middle 12 inches I marked off on each side with a yellow butterfly pin to tell me not to sew this part. This section will be the head opening:

The no sew zone. Gotta get my big head in there somehow.
For my project, my middle twelve inch opening for my head started about 27 inches from the outer edge.
Download it, rent it, whatever

On a side note- if you are getting into sewing for surfing, I recommend going to your library and picking up Sandra Betzina’s More Fabric Savvy. It is a great reference for unusual fabrics, and since we’re not at a freakin’ quilting bee here, it’s VERY useful.
Also, please note that in the sewing pics below I was using a walking foot. A lot of people shy away from these, and I don’t know why. It takes about two seconds more to install than a regular presser foot, and, BOOM! huge difference in the feed of stuff like terrycloth, knits, neoprene, and other non-quilting-craft-cotton. Which leaves the fun stuff to sew. Try one!
Back to the good part….

So I used the finished edge on the towels as a seam guide. DO NOT try to sew or even fit this bulk of both finished edges under your machine! The needle WILL break, and you may do serious damage to the delicate machinery, or put an eye out, like Santa told you. I used a Heavy Universal needle (at least 90/14 or above) and set the machine for a straight stitch at 3.0 in length.

Sewing along the finished edge of the towel

Remember to not sew all the way across, or you wont leave a head opening! Also, don’t try to sew the far edges together by machine. Either hand sew them together, or leave them as is, like I did:

Don’t sew through that gnarly bulk! NOT worth it!

You don’t have to do this part, but I wanted those seam allowances sewn down. I went back and put a simple wide, long, zig-zag stitch down each allowance, stopping at my mark for my “headhole”. Remember, sew the part that’s towel, NOT the finished edge (the finished edge is light blue here):

Opening the seam allowance and stitching down each edge until you get to the head opening

Zig-zag down each side- as long as your thread matches, it won’t really show.

When I did get to the head opening, I split off one side and turned a seam over that matched the allowance I had been sewing before the split:

Starting the split
After doing the other side.

Neckline “Inside Out” with the seam allowances stitched down to minimize bulk.
Neckline turned right side out, finished.

Here, you can decide if you want to sew down each short side, leaving the top fold open down at least 12 inches for “sleeves”. Originally, I left mine open on the sides, but I liked it better sewn up the sides.
At this point, I was ready to add my hood. Of course, you will have wanted to have measured your hand towel to make sure this works. For me, the hand towel I bought eased just fine around the 12″ diameter neck. Here is the hand towel with the pink finished edge on just the short sides, the long sides had no additional bound edge:

 I folded the towel in half, the two pink bound edges together (loopy side OUT), pinning/clipping the top edge together. This top edge is what I’m going to sew, which will be the TOP of the hood:

Getting ready to sew the top edge by using clips instead of pins
I’m using the finished narrow edge as a seam guide when sewing.

Once that seam is finished, I pinned/clipped the bottom edge of the hand towel to the neckline of the big towel cover up. Make sure your seam will be on the INSIDE of the cover up once the hood is attached. Make sure you pin/clip A LOT, and SEW SLOWLY. It’s not a race. It’s probably flat out there, that’s why you’re reading this. No rush. Use a long stitch, and go back over it to secure:

The bottom of the hood took up almost the entire neckline. Perfect!
Sewing right inside the finished edge. Slowly.

Again, I don’t try to sew over the thick ends- leave them open, and save your machine. If the bound ends have enough of an opening, thread a LONG shoestring through them and you can pull the hood a little bit closed (not too much, depending on how thick the binding is). That’s it! Enjoy the pics!

Hood applied to the neckline, then turned right side out.
Front Side Finished
Back Side Finished
With a hood, it’s easier to hang up to dry.
If Star Wars was in an “Alternate Lifestyle” Universe, this is the Obi Wan special. 
NOT a man bun, thank you very much.

2 thoughts on “Deluxe Beach Cover Up DIY

  1. I dig it! Yesterday, I almost bought the same towel you used for the hood. 😀 The way I made my towel robe work for hanging was to add in a piece of ribbon at CB neck seam that allows for a quick hook hang and super great dry off time. 🙂 Though you're likely to get better drying because you're hanging the entire hood straight rather than letting it double over. I bet it's great after surfing.


  2. I like the ribbon loop idea!!! That way, you could hang it in your car too. The cover up is great after surfing, especially if it's been windy. The beach towels are great for winter changing, since they are thicker and a lot warmer than average towels.
    Send a pic of yours and I'll post it!


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