DIY Neoprene Sunscreen Stick Holder

Going through my stash of upcycle items, I still had a bit of 2 mm neoprene from a old pair of surf shorts that I had cut up for a past neoprene project. I only had a bit left, so I used the remnant to make a little holder for my sunscreen stick that I can attach to whatever I want when I head to the beach.

For this, I needed neoprene, some 4 lb test fishing line or strong thread, a medium weight needle, a split ring (like for a standard keychain), some scissors, and my sunscreen stick:
 

I made a pattern that is usable for a regular sunscreen face stick like you’d pick up at the drugstore. Mine is 3″ around and 3 3/4″ tall, so the pattern is based on those measurements. You can adjust the pattern as needed if yours is a bit different. The pattern is there to give you an idea of the cutout outline.
 

I cut out the pattern to show you how it works. The dotted lines are fold marks plus one line-up mark to show where the top and bottom will meet. You’ll be folding the top part over the split ring and straight stitch across, then fold the bottom up and whip stitch up the sides. Neoprene’s stretchy, and this is meant to be a snug fit, so this pattern is meant for use with this material only. You may need to make it wider if you’re using another material like cotton.

To make sure the pattern stays in place while I cut, I stapled it to the neoprene in a few spots. 
 

Next, I folded the top section over the split ring and just straight stitched by hand with the needle and fishing line along the section’s bottom:
 

I clipped off any extra line after knotting the ends, and flipped it over. I folded the bottom section up like the pictures above indicated, and just whip stitched up the sides. Try to make small stitches- taking shortcuts will guarantee a short life on your holder. You can add a carabiner or clip to it for convenience. As you can see, the snug fit keeps the sunscreen stick from falling out.

 

When I was done, it looked a lot a mace holder. Maybe that’s appropriate. The Sun can be pretty deadly.

Wetsuit Buying….Online

Honestly, as much as I want to support my local surf shop, I have a lot of trouble finding a wetsuit that suits my needs and fits well. Even though I’m a woman, I know men have this same problem just as much.
Options are limited a lot of times to one or two brands, and here in Florida, you are given the choice of a spring suit, and possibly a 3/2 mm full suit. This year, I wanted a 4/3 mm full suit since I get cold easier, and the neoprene’s much stretchier anyway than in the past. When I called around to several shops up and down the East coast, I was not helped, but actually insulted by the staff, asking why I would even consider such a suit here in Florida, and did I know ANYTHING about wetsuits?!? Why, yes, I do. And I know I surf for more than 15 minutes at a stretch, so I get chilled easy. So kiss my frosty ass.
I’m so touchy.
Anywho, that’s when I turned to the internets for my future suit. I had an O’Neill suit last year, but I need to consider some things this year:
1. If I upgrade to a substantial design overhaul especially from a completely different brand, the fit may be different. Rip Curl obviously has done this with the E-Bomb, so the fit of the new design may feel different.
2. If the neoprene quality listed has been upgraded to “super-duper ultra stretch”, this may also affect the fit, and even the warmth and durability considerations. Neoprene tech has gone wild, but this can REALLY alter a fit, necessitating a size change from previous seasons.
3. Even if you plan to order online, take a gander at the selection offered at your local surf shops just to get your hand on the neoprene. Kick the tires, so to speak. Give it a stretch, see where the seams are, how they are finished and taped (or not), and look at features up close- even if the suits offered aren’t in your size, or even in your model. Companies tend to keep wetsuit construction pretty consistent over the line- it’s the neoprene quality that improves as well as the taping and lining.

*   *   *

Some helpful hints to ordering a suit online:

  1. Only order from an online shop that has a clear return policy, preferably with free returns, of course.
  2. CHECK THE DAMN SIZE GUIDE. Nobody freakin’ does that, especially men. For your convenience, I’ve procured a list of direct links to Size Guides of the most popular brands of wetsuits. Here’s your happy links to all the Size Guides:
  3. Once you’ve found the size guide for your brand, measure yourself with a tape measure at the points indicated on the guide to find your approximate size. If you’re an average dude, your measuring tape is probably in your nightstand. The weight part of the guide is tricky. In my opinion, if you find yourself in a lower weight class, but your measurements are LONGER than indicated (lean/willowy build), it may be best to go with a tighter fit and shorter limb length for better core warmth. Conversely, if you are on the heavier side, and find that your weight class ends up with longer limb measurements (strong/curvy build), keep in mind that you can trim neoprene without worrying about fraying. In fact, most ends of sleeves and legs, you will notice, are just raw edged neoprene. This is my opinion- your fit will be unique, of course.
  4. When you get your order, check the zippers first BEFORE trying it on. That means zip them up AND down at least twice. If the zipper is blocked by tags, remove them- they’re attached by a plastic tab, not a gold lock. The company can reattach it, trust me. If they’ve got an issue with it, that’s ridiculous. You need to at least need to be able to see if the zipper works more than once.
  5. Be courteous to the next guy and have a piece of Velcro handy to cover up the neck tab Velcro (if it’s a back zip) while you put the suit on so you don’t pill and rip up the inside of the suit. Bonus points if you’ve taken a shower, but didn’t put on deodorant yet. Nobody wants your Axe leavins’ in the suit lest you decide to return it. Underpants are a given, I hope.
  6. The suit should feel slightly restrictive, but not uncomfortable at the neck, groin, or shoulder points. Have a seat, stand up, bend over and touch your toes (well, work on that one). If it’s a full suit, the neoprene should reach your wrist bone, and right above your anklebone ideally.
  7. Hopefully it works out, but if not, pack it up- right side out- with all the tags, and fill out the return slip. Send it back and try again, but make sure you’ve carefully measured, and considered what didn’t work about the fit on this one before you order again.

All in all, we live in a lucky time. The early surfers had he pleasure of surfing in wool bathing suits, and when it got cold, switched into army issued stiff SCUBA suits that chafed your tattoos clean off. But don’t let that old complaint keep replaying. I keep hearing kids parroting the elders on this, and this is not sage wisdom being passed down, only unchecked bravado of times past. There is little difference in movement these days for the average surfer in a neoprene suit versus not wearing one. Temperature difference, however, I will concede, will make a performance difference.
Men always complain that women don’t understand shrinkage, so this gentleman has diverted all attention from that area:

HEY! My face is up here you pervert!!!

If you scratch my back, I’ll…..punch you in the face.

To the casual observer, we don’t have distinct seasons here in Central Florida. But, being a surfer, I can always tell the when the leaves are turning by the murmurs of my fellow surfers:

“They’re already in a SPRING SUIT?”
“Aren’t you HOT in that vest?”
“Did you SEE that guy wearing a FULL SUIT? I wonder what his problem is…..”

The beauty of the season.

Well, with those utterances, I went to purchase a new fullsuit for the season coming up (fortunately, with discount in hand this time of year). And once again, something that bothered me in the past keeps raising its ugly head. This:

The Death Tab of Velcro

I hate the Death Tab of Velcro. Every time I go to put a suit on that has a back zipper (no, I will NEVER do the chest zip again) the hooked side of the Velcro tab gets lost down in the suit somewhere, ripping the inside to shreds, and making me fumble for five minutes trying to recover it. Then I get nice pilling inside the suit over the season that make me itch. Lovely:

Yuck. And this is just from try ons.

Ok, so I came up with a little hack to help avoid this problem that most suits seem to ignore.
A lot of suits have this grab tab at the neck:

I’m going to attach some loopy side Velcro (NOT the hooked side) to this tab, so I can fold it back onto itself while I put it on so it stays out of the way until I’m ready for it.
Here’s my supplies:

I’m using bright green 3/4″ Velcro so it will show up in the pics- you can use scrap Velcro, whatever. You’ll only need a piece of the LOOPY, SOFT side, not the scratchy hooked side. I also got good scissors, clear 4 LB test fishing line, and a heavy duty SHARP needle. You may want to also use a rubber jar opener to help pull the needle through, since you will be sewing through the tab and the piece of Velcro, which is a lot like sewing through leather, so the grip helps.
Cut a piece of the loopy side of the Velcro, no more than 1″- you don’t want the piece flapping around against your neck.

This is important- you will be sewing the piece to the flap with the loops facing OUTWARD, so the wrong side will be against the outside of the wetsuit tab. You will be whipstitching just one edge together. Make a good starting knot:

Do a tight whipstitch up the edge of the tab:

Finish with a strong knot and trim the ends.

Now, this piece can fold to the inside to act as a block, to prevent the hooked Velcro from snagging on the neoprene while you put it on each time:

Now, get out there and work it, bitches!