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.

DIY Wetsuit Storage Hanger

So it’s the end of February, and I’m ready to lose the wetsuit. Wrestling into it, wrestling out of it, rinsing it, etc. Not to mention the 3 different wetsuits I’ve had in rotation lately depending on the fronts that come through. Although I can’t complain- beats the yellow snow up north any day. I can complain, though, that EVERYONE in New England and most of Quebec holds a perma-pass to DisneyWorld and apparently crashes here in Brevard County for the duration of the Winter that they complain so loudly about. Don’t you have bitchy NYC “Housewives” to be tended to??? A Curling session you’re missing???
Ah, I feel better now.
Since the wetsuit will be going into storage soon, I was thinking of a way to make a good storage hanger without going out and buying one, since my agoraphobia increases with the number of tourists on the road.
I gathered up some items I had on hand: 4 cheap plastic hangers, some electrical tape (I happened to have blue), some packing bubble wrap, a few desiccant packs from medications and inside packaging, and a pair of utility scissors:

The four hangers will provide the thickness necessary to hold up a heavy wetsuit (thoroughly dried of course). I’m going to align them next to each other like this:

Next, I cut a few strips of electrical tape so I could wrap the hangers together at a few places:

After that, I cut a strip of tape for each desiccant pack, and placed it in the middle, off to the side of the tape so they’ll be exposed. I’m taping these to the long bar across the bottom so they won’t get in the way of the suit and they’ll be inside doing their job.

 

Then I cut 2 rectangles of bubble wrap about 6″ wide and about 10″ long. I took each of these and jelly rolled them up to place on each of the shoulders of the hangers, secured with more tape on each end:

 
 

Here’s what it looked like complete:

Now, if you want to go nuts, wrap the hook completely with the tape (color coded if you want), and add labels. Here, I added the thickness of the suit and the month and year it was purchased, so I know how many seasons it’s been around, since neoprene does have an effective wear life, especially if you use wetsuits for diving as well as surfing.

Now that I’ve started to store my wetsuits away and go back to showing some skin, it’s time to think about getting some ink to raise my surf coreness in the lineup. Since I’m still trying to get sponsored by KFC, I’m thinking something like this:

RAD!

Subtle way to Stoke your own Stoke

Ok, so while I’ve been competing in paddleboard racing events for years now, it’s ONLY within the past year I’ve tried competing in surfing. I’m not a competitive person anymore- not like I was in high school, and that was in Science Team, Math Team, Quiz Bowl….anything within the realm of nerddom. Physically, I was a wuss, but academically, I was Zena, the Warrior Princess.
Amazing how the universe plays cruel tricks on you. Now I just want to be that Olympian I dreamed of. Well, for now, little by little, I’m happy with the small victories in my life. With much trepidation, I was convinced by some good friends to try some fun competitions to get over my fear of my surfing in front of others and taking off on waves instead of letting everyone else go ahead of me all the time and settling for leftovers. My friends are thankfully so observant and want me to improve. I couldn’t ask for better friends!
I already have some paddleboard trophies hanging on my personal wall in my craft room, away from public show- they’re beautiful carved works of art that hang flat on the wall, no matter the place on the trophy. However, I have collected some 3-D trophies from these new surfing competitions that are quite nice, but I really have no shelves to mount them on, and I don’t want them to pile up on me (isn’t that a wonderful problem to have?). Most of this kind have a nice gold plaque attached that display the event and place I came in during that event. So I thought, why not- remove those, and mount those on something that can hang on the wall, but more discreetly?
Here’s my take.
First, I took nice pictures of the trophies with everything intact, and you may want to include the date the event was held:

Put them in a digital photo album for future reminiscing. Next, get yourself a dull butter knife- I used one of those fancy mini butter knives (like we use them anyway), and used it to gently to pry up the little plaques by the corner:

Don’t crank too hard- just work slowly back and forth. You don’t want to bend the metal plate. If you do bend the metal plate, this can be fixed with lightly tapping it flat with a rubber mallet on a rubber block carefully.
Still prying up the nameplate….

 
All came out flat, fortunately.
Next, I found a nice sized frame at Goodwill for .69 cents, glass and all. I used cardstock to make an interesting block pattern behind it. I also used the ESA sticker they sent me as part of my membership and threw it into the frame since this will be for my ESA trophies. I figure I’ll be able to fit all of this year’s awards in here- I only temporarily stuck these down so I can move them around if needed for space. Only three measly awards so far, but the year’s just started! 😉
 
 
Here’s another example I did for a paddleboard award I got that was on one of those Surfer trophies (didn’t make sense, but that’s all they had), so I took the plate off, stained a wood block, and mounted it on it:
 
The best thing is that you can save these old trophies and use them at birthday parties for the kids, donate them to a church, give them to non profits doing a surf contests that can’t afford getting trophies made, etc. Kids really love these, and they make an impact on them for a long time. Even maybe a few adults too, like me who need a little stokage….. but make room for the gromsters too, you know?
 

Pick A Winner

So I went to another competition this past weekend, and I took my new 7’0″ funshape. I remembered everything I needed- my wax, fins, leashes, leash loops….D’OH! I forgot to string my leash loop through my plug on my board before I left, and I discovered this about 10 minutes before going to surf when I went to put my leash on. Nice.
Then I got reminded how maddening it is to string and pick up a leash loop through a plug, especially when you’re under a time limit. A friend of mine was kind enough to lend me her screwdriver (mine was in my car), and I proceeded to stab the loop into the plug, hoping I wouldn’t miss and put a sweet hole into my new board. As a bonus, this particular leash loop happened to be extra thick, posing even more of a challenge. After lots of cursing, the loop somehow got through, but my nerves were nice and frayed.
A few days after the contest, I was in my local surf shop, and I saw a Freak brand leash. They have this new plastic flexible tool that comes with it that is brilliant. It’s a mini comb, scraper, and LOOP PICKER! Downside- the leash is $25 bucks, and you probably already have a million leashes hanging around somewhere. Like me.
Here’s what I tried instead:
Get a drinking straw (preferably one you picked up off the beach), a pair of scissors, a leash loop, and your board. I used the same super thick leash loop I had at the contest in the pictures and it worked!
Cut a piece about 5″ long off the straw:

Next, flatten the straw down it’s length, then fold it in half down it’s length again. It should look like this on the end:

Keep the fold together on the end and cut a slant backward on the end to make a point:

Use this point to push the middle of the loop through the plug:

The straw will flatten a bit and allow you to scoop the loop underneath the bar:

Then, take the point and pick up the loop keeping the fold tight at the end with your fingers:

Do a lark’s head knot around the bar to secure:

Done!
This tool comes free with my soda at the restaurant, or on the beach after the weekend tourists roll through. Plus, it takes approximately 5 seconds to make with household scissors. And, it doesn’t have the potential to put a gaping hole in my board if I’m in a crazy mood.
Back to training for that next competition- I’ll give ya a little taste….

 

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 Surfboard Car Rack Pads

OK, so I broke down a bought a new car after 11 years and nearly 225,000 miles. It was about time. One requirement was that I had roof racks installed on this vehicle, of course. I had to get Yakima permanent mount type, so I paid through the nose to get them installed. I at least could save a bit my making by own rack pads to go on the bars so it wouldn’t damage the boards. Ok, like $40 bucks, but hey, better than nothing.
I thought a lot about the materials I could use to make the pads out of, and I decided on using an old yoga mat I didn’t use anymore since I got a new one. For the sides, I had some flag fabric, which is essentially heavy duty nylon cloth, used to make those outdoor decorative flags. It can be found at any fabric store, but I already had some in my fabric stash.
First, I measured the width of the bars across. I came up with about 27 inches. I decided to round this down to 26″ for my pads to leave a bit of room. You will have a different measurement depending on your racks.
Next, I took a pool noodle and measured the circumference using a tape measure. I came up with 8 inches. Since I’m going to use Velcro as a closure, I added 1 inch to each end, to make it 10 inches to make an overlap. This made the dimension 26″ by 10″. This is what I cut out twice from the yoga mat for each pad.
I was going for pockets on each end of the yoga mat to fit the pool noodle into- therefore, I cut four squares of the flag fabric into 10″ by 10″ squares using a rotary cutter on a cutting surface. The width is the same, but I wanted some space inbetween to fit the pool noodle into.

I then overlocked each edge of both squares using a standard overlock stitch on my machine set at 5.0 width, and 1.0 wide. I used a J foot, used for overlocking.
Next, I stitched the stitched the squares to each end of the yoga mat, placing the squares ON TOP of the mat. Here’s a diagram of the stitching pattern:

Here’s the layout on the floor:

 

When you stitch, keep the edges just overlapping- try not to overlap too much. Use a straight stitch and preferably a roller foot to make the pass.

When you’ve stitched both squares down, lay the piece down right side up and fold each half toward you.

I acquired some blue 3/4″ Velcro from the store to use for this project. Laying it up against the long edge, staple it along this edge to secure it for sewing.

 
Sew lengthwise along the edge of one side of the Velcro, then sew another line along the other side of the Velcro lengthwise. Here’s a sewing guide for this stage:
 
                                            
 
 
FLIP the piece to the other side and do the same thing. Don’t forget that the Velcro needs to be on opposite sides since the piece will be wrapping around a cylinder.
 
Finished!
Now, I’ve got to cut the foam noodle. I’m cutting it to 26″ inches. I mark the point with a pen.
For cutting foam of any kind, I use a electric knife like for cutting turkeys. Yep, they work great. They cut though foam like butter and make a mean turkey sandwich (well, when I used to eat meat).
 
I need to cut the foam noodle down the center (but not all the way through, just to the hole in the center). To help keep it straight, I chocked the noodle with a couple of heavy books:
 
Once the noodle was cut lengthwise, it was placed into the yoga mat pocket.
 
With the noodle cut side up, I tucked the flag fabric into the slit. I did not close the Velcro yet until I got the pads over the rail.
Slip the pads over the rail slit side down and with the fabric tucked in. Close the Velcro around the rails. The nice thing about these pads is that they have a slight sticky quality, which helps to keep the board from moving around.
Here they are installed over the rails:
 
Spiffy! Now my rail pads match my seat covers. I’m officially a total kook. Here’s to sorta keepin’ it real….kinda.




DIY Beach Towel Changing Cover Up

So, even though it’s January, slap me silly, it’s been quite warm here in Floriduh. Even has me thinking about shedding the wetsuit. Nah. The water’s still too chilly for me. Yeah, I’m a wuss. Tell me to my face. I’ll take you on.
Thankfully, for me, my drive home is usually pretty short, so I just usually drive home in my wetsuit. If I have to look forward to a rashy long drive, though, I’d better pack a way to get out of my suit without giving the folks on A1A a better show than the Lido Cabaret (for better or worse).
I’ve seen those nice expensive changing ponchos for the parking lot, but I had a nice large towel already that is 33″ wide by 66″ long- no holes in this old towel!- that would do nicely to make one.

My nice big beach non holey towel

So, I figured this would work to cover me pretty well lengthwise (I’m pretty short). If you’re taller, whipstitch additional hand or beach towels to each end to make it longer (or sideways, to make it wider- we don’t judge here).
I folded mine in half and pinned down each side fully. Don’t be stingy with the pins- pin the entire length down each side together:

Pinning each side in place

Use a Large t-shirt as a guide and lay it in the middle of the folded towel, with the collar close to the folded edge and the sleeves out towards the pinned edges. Notice where the line of the armpit of the t-shirt falls in relation to the pinned edge? Come down about 1 inch under the armpit if you’re a woman, 2 inches if you’re a man, from that point and place a pin ON THE OUTER SEAM OF THE TOWEL where you pinned down the side originally. You will be sewing only between this point and the bottom, leaving an opening for your arm to fit through, but go ahead and leave the other pins in place down the side to keep the seam stable as you sew, even though you won’t be stitiching the upper part.

Don’t forget to cut a neckline as well- I do this by taking that same shirt as a guide by holding it up to the middle of the fold, and measuring. I noticed that this one could use about 3 inches on each side since I’ve got a bulbous head like George Costanza, so I gave myself 12 inches across right in the middle(!).Honestly, just keep in mind that the towel won’t stretch like your favorite t-shirt will, so make sure to give yourself a generous slit, but don’t let it fall off your shoulder:

Since I gave myself a football sized head, I didn’t think I had much depth (haha), so I’m pretty shallow, at only an inch…..

I needed to sew the raw edge of the collar, so I just overlocked the edge using a basic overlock stitch on my machine:

 

That didn’t create a very nice finished look for the collar, so I finished it using some extra wide double fold bias tape stitched over the raw edge, kind of like a quilt edge:

 Much Better!

 
Here it is over a full suit, ready to go:
 
I guess a hood would be easy enough to add like I’ve seen on some of the coverups, but if it’s cold enough that I’d need a hood to change out of my wetsuit, that also means a football or basketball game is on somewhere and I’m missing it in some warm place.
Bring on Summer.