Wetsuit Recycle Project #5: Neoprene Bean Chillaxin’ Cushion

So, if you start saving your old neoprene, you’ll end up saving your scraps too. Neoprene’s an expensive material, and the surf and SCUBA wetsuits have a lot of good pricey bits left over in addition to the neoprene, such as zipper pulls and the durable zippers themselves. I’ll scrounge the wetsuits until the bitter end, using every bit that I can. Hey, this stuff can be expensive if bought individually at the craft store. This is especially true for quality stuff that holds up to saltwater and the outdoors.

Sorry to say, I have even more scrap than this

Try to save up your larger fields of neoprene for other craft projects. The rest of the little scrap (e.g. trimming bits, scrap, old test sewing/serger scraps) will be chopped up into a “bean bag” like stuffing for a great little foot pillow to put my feet up on after a long surf session full of wipeouts. Keeps my nasty feet directly off the nice wooden coffee table too.

This project is also great for neoprene that’s full of holes and tears, since you’re going to slice, dice, and julienne it anyway. Rip Curl used to do their Wetsuit Recycling Program by making bean bag chairs from old wetsuits using this method, which is where I got this idea.

I love to use a rotary cutter with a blade that’s got some miles on it for this type of project. By the time I’m done slicing this stuff into bits, the blade will be pretty much dulled out. Of course, you can use scissors for all or some portion of this job. You’ll need scissors to cut away stuff like zippers that you’ll be saving, hint, hint…

Making cross-cross cuts

Don’t cut it up powder fine- this is just a bean bag

Oh, Wilbur!!!!

Just a few more pounds….

Once you’ve got enough for pillow stuffing, collect them and set them aside. And don’t accidentally knock the bag of bits onto the floor of your sewing room. It sucks. Trust me.

For the pillow form, I used an old bed pillow protector I bought a while back. I didn’t care for this particular pillow protector since it was kind of a crunchy material to sleep on. But, since I had used and washed it, I kept it. Perfect for this use as a foot pillow, and I can always add more bits later for more pillow loft if I want. Bonus.

Old pillowcase protector is now a fillable pillow form

I trimmed down the sides I needed to be narrower (it’s for a coffee table, after all), and sewed it up on the machine. Easy. Now I can throw all those bits of neoprene into the “bag”, zip it up, and I have a pillow. Boom.

Chock full o’ neoprene

Now to make it pretty.

I used another old pillowcase that was threadbare and made it into my scrap pile, of course. The nice thing is, there’s less sewing since it’s already a pillowcase. Sew up the sides, that’s it.

But, since I must get all artsy-fartsy, I got out my surf t-shirt scraps, some Steam-A-Seam Lite (iron on adhesive sheet), and a fin for a template. The iron on double stick adhesive sheets can turn any fabric into a sticker appliqué onto another fabric. I love the stuff.

I’m using the small pocket graphics for this project

It’s like cool fabric sticker making awesomeness

I traced some fins onto the sheets, cut them out, then placed them on the graphic bits of the t-shirts I wanted to highlight. I also cut a few out from solid color sleeves from other t-shirts for contrast.

Tracing the fins

Using a sleeve from an old shirt

I apply just a bit of heat with the iron to each cut piece before peeling the backing away

I peeled off the backing, and placed the fins wherever I wanted. I kind of copied our local Florida Surf Museum‘s logo, and tried “waves.” 

You can move around the pieces until they’re where you want them

My final layout


If you iron the pieces down well per instructions, you don’t have to do appliqué stitching around each piece since it’s permanently fused to the cloth. However, I never pass up an opportunity to use up any of the craft stash. There’s really not a lot of stitching here, so I’ll use up some crazy colors, or tail end of spools I need to clear out.

Use it or lose it

Like my T-Shirt Pillow Project, I’m going to have fun with the stitching, and use some of those 101 stitches I never use on this machine. I did cut open another side of the pillowcase to make this work easier under the sewing machine. This is no biggie, since I want to line it anyway after I’m done with the appliqué using another old pillowcase.

Ok, this was a boring stitch photo

Once I lined my pillowcase, I popped the Neoprene Bean bag into the case, and I’m done!

Neoprene bean bag pillow form

With the pillowcase on

Better than stanky feet on the coffee table

You can add more neoprene beans


Crafty’s Final Thought:

Remember kids-

Me with IKEA furniture

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