Baggies, Jams, Boardies….Just DIY ‘Em

The “history” of surfing shorts varies depending on the surfer you ask. Some may say the original surf short began with Duke Kahanamoku and his scratchy wool swim shorts. The original big wave Hawaiian surfers of the 50’s and 60’s may tell you that Mr. Nii’s in Makaha was THE place to get a pair custom made- even personalized with your name.

I remember the “Jams” of the 1980’s…the tacky,

Clearance Bin Find!

comfy, long and super baggy shorts that EVERYONE had to have, from the Hawaiian beaches to the innermost cornfields of Iowa. That’s the version I’m down with. So, appropriately, I chose a SUPER easy pajama pant pattern I picked up from the clearance bin for 39 cents that I cut to a knee length short. Score.

The fun flamingo cotton print I got from fabric.com, with some contrast print I got from my cotton fabric scrap bin. I won’t go through the entire process in detail, but I did add custom pockets I designed myself to the front of the shorts, as well as a simple square patch pocket on the right rear. I also added the contrast fabric as a hem facing to the bottom of the shorts, as well as the lining of the pockets. It doesn’t readily show, but I know it’s there, so…..cool. Here’s a breakdown of some of the process in pics….

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My custom made pocket pattern- checking for placement

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Making the front patch pockets with lining

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Top stitching the pocket onto the front part of the shorts

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Making the back square patch pocket and lining

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Positioning the back patch pocket

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Attaching the hem facing

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The hidden elastic waistband!

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Threading the waist tie through the front buttonholes

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Finished hem detail

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Finished front pocket detail

Done! This was a very easy level sewing project, and a great first sewing project for anyone if you forego the pockets.

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Front of the shorts

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Back of the shorts

Here’s the modeling shots by a non-model. It makes things a lot easier when you don’t have to Photoshop my face out of the pics. Yikes-a-Rama. Try to find Max Chill….

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Where’s Waldo???

So flamingo, so tacky, so FLORIDA. I don’t know if I’ll surf in these cotton boardshorts, but I’ve said it before- Jams like these are Florida’s version of sweatpants.

But the Kentucky Derby IS coming up fast, so I will need to bring out the big guns pretty soon….

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This would be acceptable any time of the year in Key West….

Deep Thoughts on Surfing

Last week at the Pier, it was a fun, warm, glassy day of longboard waves, which, of course, brought out the spirit of Road Rage in everyone. Happy Freakin’ Holidays. Of course everyone’s stressed out. Maybe these dudes are finally getting some time off from work, so that justifies getting aggro, making everyone else’s day worse by jockeying for ALL the waves.

You win, Seabiscuit.

“More waves for me, more joy. Screw the other guy today, I’m stressed out- if I can get the Wave, I’m entitled!”

This mentality permeates the surfing culture. For a sport that is supposed to be so Zen-like, it sure does have its’ unwritten rules, protocols, and hierarchies and a rough enforcement of those policies at times. I’ve slowly learned that surfers do this as an initiation, while strangely claiming to be inclusive the entire time. Helps to keep the surfing lineup freshly culled as well as a bonus.

You’ll often hear words like “Aloha Spirit” or “laid-back” in association with surfers. The only Hawaiian spirit I notice a lot of surfers embrace these days is the Da’Hui. Yikes. I don’t remember that Fun Gang in Back to the Beach.

No wonder this sport is so intimidating and confusing for most to even attempt.

Towards the end of my surf sesh that day, I saw a college-aged guy getting a surf lesson from an instructor on the outside of the main pack of surfers (where I usually like to park it too). He was learning to sit upright on his board in the lineup. To me, that skill can be one of the hardest to master when learning. Most people don’t use those muscles until they try to surf, so it’s a surprise to even the most athletic people I know whom I’ve seen surf for the first time.

The newbie surfer noticed several of us “drifting surfers” moving away from the crowded lineup and towards him, and quickly became self-conscious and embarrassed. While still trying to get his balance, he said apologetically,

“Really, I can snowboard REALLY well, I’m just not USED to this, really…..I AM a great snowboarder back home….”

Being SOOOOO over all the aggro vibe that morning, I thought to myself,

“Dude, what’s with all the puffing? There are plenty of jealous people sitting up on that beach that wish they had the ability and courage to be a Kook- even for just one day.”

Time for a New Surfboard Leash

Last week, we had a few days of fun longboard swell, so I took out my heavier 9’0″ Dewey Weber Performer longboard. When I attached my usual longboard surf leash, I had noticed that the Velcro was beginning to fray badly and the attachment points had become far too supple, almost to the point of tearing. It was time for a new leash, and this one was finished….

Typically for my longboards- which have ranged between 8’6″ and 9’2″- I’ve used a standard 9′ long surf leash. Your leash needs to be about as long as the surfboard you plan to ride. I have a 9′ leash for my longboards, one for funshapes/shortboards that’s 7′ long, and a 5′ leash for my little 4’6″ Beater board.

Surfboard leashes have become an essential safety item to me, since the lineup here in Florida can become crowded quickly with surfers AND swimmers alike. I don’t want to take the chance of a wipeout potentially injuring someone else. I also consider it important in case I become too tired to swim if I lose my board, which was one of the main drivers behind the invention created in the late 1960’s in California (History of the Surfboard Leash).

Pat O’Neill (of O’Neill Surf Company fame, and the son of founder Jack O’Neill) gets the credit for making the “kook cord” popular. Ironically, he lost his eye when his board snapped back in his face due to the initial poor design of the surf leash. Today, better designs make this much less common, but there are some things I still do to prepare my leash before its’ first use.

Once either end of the leash attach points become frayed or loose, spend a little coin and get a new leash. It’s not worth taking the chance over spending $20-30 bucks at least once a year if you surf frequently. More if yer a gnarly ripper, brah. Lawsuits can get pricey. Same goes if the cord comes loose from either end- no gluegunnin’ it here- this is SAFETY equipment. Y’all feelin’ me?

Now, all brand new leashes have the same problem- they’re kinkier than Christian Grey.

Kinky.

Every one of my new leashes gets a turn on a sturdy palm tree to stretch it out a bit. I like having both my eyes, so getting it stretched out a bit keeps it from “snapping” back as much during initial surf sessions. Of course, future wipeouts will help stretch the leash as well. Yikes.

I’m finally getting some strength exercise in…..

Much better than before.

This particular leash I purchased is a “Regular” leash, meaning the cord thickness isn’t too thin, nor too thick for most recreational surf breaks. It’s what is typically found at most surf shops.

Comp” or “Competition” weight leashes have a thinner cord. The concept is that the thinner cord reduces drag when paddling, surfing, and doing tricks. Personally, I really like them because they are light, and more than enough cord thickness for our usual 2-3′ waves here in Cocoa Beach. Comp weight leashes are hard to find in 8’+ lengths at many stores, but I’ve seen them on occasion.

Big Wave” leashes have supa thicky-thick cord. Unless you’re planning on surfing huge Pe’ahi or Cloudbreak with your 10′ elephant gun, OR your name rhymes with “Blaird Blamilton,” you can probably pass on this type of leash. If you ever need it, trust me- you’ll already be in the know then.

Can’t wait to try out my spiffy new leash, but it’s gnar chop city for a few days, so I’ll have to find somewhere else to go…..