DIY Truck Tailgate Surfboard Pad from a Beach Chair

Some time ago, I found a discarded, broken beach chair sitting next to the trash on one of the beach crossovers. The chair was of no use anymore, but the seat material was still in decent shape. It’s made of a heavy duty nylon with a waterproof backing material. That material can be pricey to buy, but here’s some just being tossed out. So, I cut away the seat material (I did chuck the seat frame), and brought it back home to run it through the washer.
Here’s the seat laid out:

Beach chair seat material

I thought it would work great for a tailgate pad on my husband’s truck so I wouldn’t get wax all over the tailgate anymore. I looked at the Thule tailgate pad as an inspiration.
I was able to get a good sized rectangle out of the seat material, around 13″ by 22″:

Rectangle cut from the seat material

For the underside of the pad, I cut another rectangle of the same size out of nylon flag fabric, leftover from my car rack pad project from a couple of weeks ago:

I made sure to overlock the raw edges of the blue nylon flag fabric, so the edges wouldn’t fray.
Using 1″ nylon webbing, I cut a 3 yard strip in half to use as the straps to go under the tailgate. I burned the cut ends with a lighter (outside!) so the webbing wouldn’t fray out:

1″ wide nylon webbing
From each 1 1/2 yard piece, I cut a small 6″ length of webbing that I threaded through a parachute buckle and folded in half, then sewn onto the bottom of the seat material rectangle, 3 inches in from the edge, placed UPSIDE DOWN and facing inside (see first picture), since this entire piece will be sewn onto the flag fabric backing, and turned inside out. On the top side of the rectangle, I sewed the other two long pieces of webbing across from the buckle pieces (see second picture below).

To make strap to secure the tail to the pad and keep it from sliding back and forth on the tailgate, I used some leftover 1″ nylon webbing in purple (sorry, that’s the color I had!). I cut one piece about 15″ long and secured a buckle piece to that end, and the other I left about a yard long with no buckle. I stitched the ends centered on the rectangle, as far in from the edges as the black straps, and in the middle of the rectangle. I sewed a square with an X inside to make sure the end of each piece was secure- I did not sew the webbing all the way to the outside edges- I wanted the straps to be free to come up and around the tail of the surfboard.
I’m ready now to put the flag fabric backing onto the piece. I gathered all the straps and made sure they stayed in the center, away from the edges, placed the flag fabric piece on top, and sewed around THREE sides only:

Since I left the side open, I can now turn the piece right side out:

Using some mildew resistant polyester 1″ thick foam, I cut a rectangle a little smaller than the tailgate pad case and slid it inside the casing:

Once the foam batting was inside the casing, I folded the open edges in about 1/2 inch and stitched the rectangle closed:

I unbuckled the purple tail straps and ran three lines of stitching down the middle of the pad, going through all layers. This will keep the foam batting from moving around inside the casing.

Next, it was time to do a fit check with my fattest board, an SUP, and trim any major excess off of the webbing strips and singe them with a lighter to seal.
I installed it like the Thule instructions directed.
Here’s the final fit:
Now I can use the Hubby’s truck to do donuts in the middle of A1A without the board sliding around. Weeeeeeeeee!!!!!

DIY Neoprene Headband

Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving- there’s been waves here all this Thanksgiving week, but it’s been insanely windy, making it feel a lot cooler than normal. When the wind starts kicking up, the first thing to bother me are my ears, since when the wind hits them, it feels like it blows through my head *insert brainless blonde joke here*. I could wear a hood, but sometimes it’s just a little overkill, and feels a bit constricting.
I have a pair of neoprene shorts I replaced recently, so these are a good candidate for making the headband. They’re about 1 mm thick:

I used the back of one of the legs, since this will be a long enough and wide enough piece of neoprene for my big head headband.

Next, I used my rotary cutter to make a 4 inch wide headband. The length I used was about 16 1/4 inches, a snug fit for my bulbous head, but I don’t want it coming off in the surf, since it stretches. If you measure around your head, take an inch or two off of the measurement, since different types of neoprene stretch more than others, especially today’s modern neoprene.

Mine’s 16 1/2″ by 4″

Next, I’m going to get out my 4 lb test fishing line/ Fireline and a strong needle, ready to do a simple seam to join the headband:

For the headband, I cut the bottom into a bottle neck shape so it will narrow on the back of my head so I won’t have the extra bulk at my neck.

Bottom of the headband into a bottle neck shape.

I used a whipstitch on the seam, quite close together to ensure it won’t tear. You may wish to go back over the seam again, to ensure the strength, especially since it should be quite snug on your head.
Here’s the finished product on me:


It’s really warm over my ears, and I think it will work to block the wind well. Gotta keep the air in my head, ya know?

DIY Wet Bag

When I was back at school….again….I took the opportunity to surf before heading to class like many of my classmates. I also surfed up until the moment I had to be on the road so I wouldn’t be late for class. I’d do one of those quick changes in the parking lot, stuff my wet gear into a humble plastic grocery bag where it usually wouldn’t be remembered until the smell would alert me to the errant bag in the corner of the trunk. Of course, at that point, the plastic grocery bag had to go. There goes my contribution to the environment.
I figured it would be nice to have something that could hold my wet stuff, be a little more permanent, stand out and be seen, and be worth keeping. So I made my own simple post surf wet clothes bag.
I started off using an old clear shower liner I had, but never used. You can use one that’s been used, just give it a good washing prior to doing this project to remove any soap residue.

Save those magnets!!!!

I started off with a good sized rectangular piece (13″ by 21″) that I cut with my rotary cutter and a straight edge:

This bag is going to be like a simple envelope- I’m going to fold up the bottom, and fold over a small section to make a flap to close with Velcro.
I wanted to make this kind of girly, so I picked up some Duct Tape that had girly colors- for the guys, they have plenty of manly prints too, plus boring silver, of course. I used this as stabilizer to go under the Velcro strips I’m going to put on the flap for the opening. I found pink Velcro which was AWESOME:

First, I took a strip of the duct tape and ran it along each edge, front and back. I trimmed off the sides of the duct tape to neaten it up.
Along one edge, I chose this as the bottom Velcro strip- this is important- I put the hooked side on the bottom. This keeps the hooks from snagging on my gear as I’m sliding it into the bag. I used a 70 weight Microtex (sharp) needle on this material and a 3.0 straight stitch. I lined it up around a quarter inch down from the top edge and ran the line of stitching down the edge of the Velcro:

I stitched lines down both edges and repeated this on the other edge on the top:

Next, I used a duct tape sheet (they sell these in big box stores and craft stores) to cut a 2.5″ wide strip to make a wrap to join the sides together:

I peeled back the adhesive backing and lined the sides up to make the pocket:

You can leave it at that, but I reinforced it with a line of stitching.

I didn’t want the top flap corners to stick out and be pointy, so I trimmed off the corners:

I wanted to hide my stitching line, so I cut a narrow strip from another sheet of colored duct tape to put over the line:


Finished with bikini, rashguard, and boardshorts inside!

It really holds a lot! I also throw in a couple of desiccants from shoes or pill bottles to help cut down on some of the moisture in the bag.
Now I can try to keep the “stank” to my surfing.

DIY Surfer Girl Skirt, Cover Up, and Changing Assistant

Quite a few years back, Patagonia used to make a nifty skirt that was made from lycra, just like a bathing suit. Unfortunately, they don’t now, so I’ve been making my own the past couple of years. They’re easy to pack, they don’t wrinkle, and if you have a wet rear from surfing or diving, it’s ok with this material. I take three or four with me to the Keys on diving trips, they’re the easiest thing to change out of my swimsuit right there at the dock or beach, and still use it to go out to Lorelei’s later.
First, I picked up some lycra at the fabric store- it’s usually in the swim/activewear section. For this simple skirt, I highly advise to choose a lycra that has a random print so the seam will not be as obvious. Lycra’s a little pricey, but if you’ve got a 40% off coupon (all the fabric stores have those these days), it’s still better than the $60 they were asking you to shell out at the store.

Same stuff as a bathing suit’s made of

Before getting the material cut at the store or ordering it, make sure you measure the widest part of your hips, leaving a little looseness in there- you don’t want the hips and rear to be form fitting, the waist will be fitted using elastic.
Basically, you’re going to sew up a tube- this is the simplest garment to make as far as sewing’s concerned. The material’s a bit of a challenge, though, so it’s a good step up project.
First, fold the material over until it’s half the measurement you took loosely around your hips, plus 2 inches. The 2 inches is going to be the seam allowance. It’s a bit wide, but I’ve found it keeps the stitching line laying flat when sewing so you don’t get a funky puckered seam.
Pin the fabric together, but only at the outer edges- don’t pin anywhere in the center or you may put a run in the fabric.

Pinning only in the seam allowance

I cut off the excess material, saving it for whatever. Next, I’m going to cut to top edge (waist) perfectly straight using my rotary cutter and a straight edge so I get a sharp line.

Squaring off the top edge

When I start to sew down the side, I will make sure this edge is at the top when I start. Then I pin the thing on the borders like crazy, since lycra will shift around like mad.
Before sewing, I will change my needle out to a ballpoint needle designed for knits. I used a 75 ballpoint stretch, since this lycra’s pretty light material, compared to, say, denim.

Use a needle only for lycra fabric.

I used regular white poly thread and set my machine to do a long zig zag stitch (2.0 length, 1.5 width) down the one side seam. On knits, you need to do zig zag since there’s stretch in the fabric and you don’t want to bend over or to the side and have the stitches pop out.

I used a guide to make sure I stayed 2 inches from the edge and sewed SLOWLY, making sure the two layers didn’t shift around under each other. DON’T pull the fabric through, and make sure you support the weight of the fabric or you’ll get a gnarly puckered seam:

Making the side seam

After sewing down the side, cut the seam allowance off to about 1/4″ from the sewing line- there’s no need to use pinking shears:

Trimming the seam allowance off.

Once you’ve sewn down the side, you should have a large tube! Now what?
Next, I’m going to make the casing for the waist so I can put some elastic through to make a waist. I’m using 3/4″ no-roll elastic and 1/2″ Steam-A-Seam Strips to keep the casing folded over when I sew. It helps me greatly to use this, or any other type of stay adhesive on this part, since the casing’s kind of tricky.
I’m going to iron the casing over, making sure I fold the top over 1 1/2″ inches- 1/2″ for the adhesive (which bonds to the fabric), plus the 3/4″ for the elastic, plus 1/4″ to make sure the elastic lays smoothly in the casing.

Measuring before I form the casing.

I will adhere the edge down at 1 1/2″, using a medium iron setting. Then, I’m going to use the same zig zag stitch as before to sew it down, 1 inch away from the top edge. Make sure you leave a small opening  so you can thread your elastic through the waist!!!

Using the guide to sew 1 inch away from top edge

Now, you have a choice before you start threading the elastic into the waist casing. You can finish the bottom edge, or you can leave it raw, since lycra doesn’t fray. Either way, square up the bottom, like you did for the top, and use the rotary cutter to make a clean straight edge.
If you want to make a hem, and don’t have a serger (like me- that stinks!!!), you can use a twin needle for stretch fabrics:

This makes a cool hem edge:

Bottom hem edge with the twin needle

Next, I’m going to thread the elastic through the top casing using a tool called a bodkin. It looks like a pair of tweezers, but clamps onto the end of the elastic and makes threading a lot easier. In a pinch, you can attach a large safety pin to one end and feed the elastic through the casing that way:

Using the bodkin

These will be on top of each other- just staggered for the photo

The mark is where you’ll sew, using a zig zag stitch, once again:

Sewing the elastic together.

Make sure you DO NOT PULL at the elastic while sewing.
Once you’ve finished, trim off the ends of the elastic, and adjust the elastic waist back into the casing. Stitch up the hole you left in the casing using the same zig zag stitch, and you’re DONE!
Here’s some ways to wear your creation:

Hanging out at the beach
Going to the store, or changing out of your suit
Going out to the bar after surfing

And fellow surfer girls- the skirt is bulletproof against those dudes spilling their nasty Natty Ice all over you to get your digits. The dude spilling his Dos Equis on you, however, may get a chance. He IS the most interesting man in the world, you know.

The Line Up Grillin’ Apron

We’ve been really fortunate this winter here in Florida with the warm weather. In fact, many people have their grills out and are driving me nuts with the good smell. That’s when I thought about this craft.
Something I found recently at the craft store was this printable cotton fabric. I thought this was the coolest thing. I’ve used iron on transfers, of course, but never heard about actual fabric that could be printed on a home printer.

Printable fabric

I picked up a pre-made apron at the store, or you can use one you already have. I wouldn’t make one, they’re cheaper to buy than make and you’re going to get it dirty.

Ready made cooking apron

I chose a fun Paddleboarding Line Up picture I liked that was interesting. I ran one of these fabric sheets through my ink jet, and set it to print on the whole page and in photo quality. The fabric sheet is backed with stiff peel away paper so it can go through the printer smoothly.

Picture out of the printer

Let the picture dry for a while. After that, the instructions told me to peel off the backing, leaving just the cotton cloth, then run it under some tap water until the water is clear. I didn’t have any bleed, I think since I let it dry overnight. Next, I wrung it out on an old towel then dried it with a hot iron.

Fabric drying on the towel

I got out some of my trusty Steam-A-Seam Light (a double sided adhesive for binding fabrics together), and started adhering the fabric to the 8 1/2″ by 11″ piece of Steam-A-Seam first.

Steam-A-Seam sheets and photo fabric

Before I placed it and steamed it in place on the apron, I cut out the picture a bit just to make it a little more interesting.

Fabric steamed onto apron

You can stop there, but of course, I have to make things worse. I did a baseball stitch around the image, and fabric marker’ed around it for fun.

Hosed up apron

The nice thing about using printed fabric is that I can chuck this all teriyaki’d up into the washer and not worry about the image chipping or peeling off of the apron. Of course, there’s a whole bunch of other stuff you can do with printable fabric too, which I’m going to try out this week. 😉
Time for the inevitable question: gas or charcoal? Propane’s my choice- there’s some trees I’d like to keep in the backyard. Friends don’t let friends use lighter fluid. Yuck!

DIY Towel Shorts

Every waterman or woman has about a zillion towels around their home. They come in handy- some have been self-bought, but for me, most are gifts, since people know my favorite pasttimes.
The ones that I’ve bought for myself are usually not as nice as the ones given to me, so at some point the tattered ones have to become cleaning rags or kitchen towels. In between, however, I have some good towels that just take up a lot of space in my closet, but never see the towel rotation. This project is best for those type of towels.
I had two smaller brown bath towels that were nice, but too small to use as beach towels, and I don’t use them for the bathroom (it’s all about the color scheme…yikes). I thought it would be fun to make some shorts from these towels. Besides, if you go to the fabric store and buy terry cloth by the yard, it’s freakin’ expensive. Towels are much more economical to buy, even better if you already have some.
The nice thing about towels, or terry cloth, for shorts is when you’ve gone out in the water, gotten wet, but want to grab some munchies or need to run a couple of errands before heading back home. Wearing your wet boardshorts just amplifies the chafe factor. Plus, I recommend this to girls who think it’s OK to go into Publix in a thong they wore to the beach- sorry fellas- but there’s some people, ahem, who should consider these shorts for a jaunt to the supermercado….
Instead of the pattern I used on my last project, I used Simplicity 9330. It has other stuff for the bath and night clothes, so it’s worth the money since you can get a few other things out of it, especially with terrycloth or towels.

Pattern for the Towel Shorts

For my shorts, I used the 2 small bath towels. You may need more depending on your size- insead of going by the recommended yardage on the back of the envelope, lay out the pieces you’ll need on the towels to see if you have enough. If you don’t have matching towels, well, who cares.
Here’s where I began to carefully cut the pieces from the towels- I used the finished long edge of the towel and lined it up with the bottom of the shorts so I didn’t have to hem them, they were already hemmed.

One leg cut out, with the bottom edge the finished edge of the towel.

I HIGHLY recommend overlocking the raw edge of each piece of terry you cut out as soon as it’s cut, or you’re going to have a tough time with frayed edges and seeing the edge for sewing allowances. It’s a pain, but well worth it. Use up some of your less favorite poly thread in your stash for this, even your Coats and Clark (blech!).
Instead of a drawstring made from the terry cloth, I just made the waist elastic for simplicity. You can make a drawstring, but chuck the drawstring pattern from this particular pattern since making it from terry will be too bulky. Use a cord if you’re going that route. I used 3/4″ non-roll elastic and folded the top down to make the casing for the elastic.
I didn’t put pockets in these, but that would be easy enough if you are familiar with how to set side pockets. Otherwise, you can make a “patch” pocket (a square sewed on three sides, leaving the top open) and put it on the thigh of the shorts.
Here’s some pictures of the finished product:

With a rashguard- looks no different from regular shorts
Elastic waist
Completed Shorts

This is handy for avoiding wet seats in the car too. Throw them in the back of the car with your other towels, and you can wash these with the rest.
Or you could not wash them and enjoy the funk- and I’m not talking about George Clinton and Parliment Funkadelic.

Tagua Bead and Sailor’s Flemish Knot Necklace

When I got up this morning, I thought of the sailor’s old adage: “Red skies in the morning, sailors take warning, red skies at night, sailors’ delight.”
Well, it wasn’t too delightful this morning outside, but I started thinking about nautical knots and some tagua beads I received recently.
Tagua is known as “vegetable ivory”, since once the seeds are hulled and shelled, the center nut looks like and can be carved just like ivory. The tagua nut tree can be found native to South America.

Tagua Nut Tree
Tagua nuts uncarved

This material has been promoted since the tree doesn’t have to be taken out to get the tagua, and a lot of times, the tagua isn’t collected until the nuts have fallen to the ground and the local animals have already eaten the outer hull, saving time for the humans!
Here’s the carved tagua beads I just received- they still have some of the character of the original husk, almost making them look like little paintings on the beads:

Carved tagua beads

These beads have a pretty good sized hole drilled into them, I can use thick cord or several thinner cords together. For this project, I used 3 lengths of waxed cotton thinner cord- this will be more challenging to make the knots, but it’s great practice. I would advise 3 lengths of cord at a yard a piece, just to make sure. Waxed cotton cord will hold the shape of your knot much better than hemp, because hemp kind of becomes fluffy after a while.
My idea is to have one bead in the front and center of the choker, with a Flemish Stopper Knot on either side, but not tightly placed up against the bead, so the knots show. The Flemish Knot is used often in boating, and is good to know if you spend any time on the water, since it’s a good, strong knot to end off a line.
First, I’ll know a Flemish (or Figure 8 Knot) with one cord:
Take the bitter end and make a loop, with the bitter end length passing on top of the main cord:

Next, take that same bitter end and place it over the main cord to make a figure 8. My thumb is sort of covering this, but the bitter end cord is on top of the main cord:

Next, I’ll pass the bitter end over the right side loop and under, kind of like a pretzel:

Next, carefully tighten the knot down:


So we’re going to do the same thing, just with three cords, instead of one. Do the first knot towards the center of your lengths of cords. Knot enthusiasts are hard nosed about keeping multiple cords flat when knotting, so it depends on how artful you want to be.
Make sure you thread the tagua bead on before making the second knot on the other side:

Left a little slack for the bead

I’m not going to do anything fussy to the cords, I’m just leaving the cords loose as a group of three on each side. To finish this off, I always like to use a small length of matching cord and making a short square knot sinnet with the ends of the cords from the necklace going in opposite directions as you make the sinnet over the cords. This makes an adjustable “drawstring”, so you can slip this necklace over your head and tighten the necklace down to where you want. For more instructions on this type of closure, see my Maori Hook necklace project. So here’s the finished project:

Finished tagua and Flemish knot necklace

This is an easy, simple way to learn a useful stopper knot that has been used for many, many years.
Hmmm…..would be useful for a leash loop knot too, right?