There’s a time and place for wax in your zipper

So I have this front zip surf vest I bought a while back by Billabong that I just love because it can zip on and off like a jacket- no over the head removal. This helps my sore neck greatly.

However, it has a horrible design flaw. At least for a frequent surfer like me. Its’ zipper teeth and zipper pull are completely exposed. Cute fashion look, but bad for function when I’m accumulating surf wax on my chest, lying on my board belly down, paddling into waves. Now I’ve got crazy wax buildup on the zipper, and it actually doesn’t make the zip-up any easier. Plus, the clean-up is going to become a nightmare.

This vest gets a lot of use- even in the Summer. But so much wax!!!

Not going to be fun to clean


So, to help start this process, I put the vest in a Ziplock bag and put it in the freezer overnight.

Didn’t want to get the nasty wax all over my somewhat clean freezer

Clean eating. By the way, Mini Eggs are EXCELLENT frozen.

After taking the vest out of the freezer the next day, I immediately began to remove the hardened wax while it was frozen. I used an old toothbrush that I had cleaned off well beforehand.

I tried not to scrape the material

The bristles helped clean the teeth


Since there was still some wax deep in some crevices, I had to use an alcohol wipe to wipe down the plastic teeth to try and dissolve the wax. That seemed to help quite a bit too.

Wiping down just the teeth of the zipper and zipper pull

An improvement

Now, I was ready to make a little zipper placket so I could save myself this cleaning pain in the future, hopefully.

For this zipper placket, I used some fun Lycra I bought ages ago on clearance, but you could also recycle an old rashguard for this project too, since it’s the same material.


I measured the zipper on the jacket vest, wanting the placket to end up being 1 inch wide by 19 inches long.

Measuring across

About 19″

To make this strip, I needed to cut a piece 2 inches wide by 20 inches long, since I’m going to fold it over. I inferfaced this with light iron on interfacing. I just find it makes sewing with knits a lot easier, and it will give the placket a bit of structure.

I use this all the time with knits

Hemming each end

After that, I hemmed each end a 1/2″ inch and turned the ends right side out, then stitched down the placket on the outside raw edge to stabilize it some more.

Turned right side out

Light iron

Making sure the edges don’t move around

Then, I sandwiched the raw edge of the placket between the zipper teeth and the scant edge of the neoprene on the side of the fabric of the zipper. I clipped this all the way down, putting this placket on the zipper side where the zipper pull is.

I had to move the pull out of the way

It ain’t movin’

I used a needle a poly thread and hand tacked the layers together, since they were just too bulky for the home machine. Even with small tack stitches, it didn’t take long. This is also a good use for old fishing line, but the lighter, the better.

Hand sewing the placket in


The placket won’t get in the way of the zipper

This will help to prevent some wax from getting on the zipper in the future. It was easy enough to do, and I’m glad I didn’t have to scrap the nice vest.

Bonus tip: 

Don’t forget to store the toothbrush with your cleaning supplies. If you wax your teeth up, you’re going to freak people out in the lineup with a permagrin.

Although that’s not a bad idea.

Not much longer until I’m sporting this look

One More Beach Towel Summertime Coverup DIY….

It’s become toasty hot this week in Rocket Town, so it’s getting about that time to finally lose the wetsuits for the Summer. Hallelujah. Warm water, warmer muscles, less problems for this middle-aged surfer chick.

I usually wear a rash guard and long Lycra shorts or leggings when I surf in the Summer- I don’t want to get yet another gnarly burn. I’ll wear a bikini underneath, but rarely on it’s own. Yikes.

Those are far easier to get out of than wrestling a wetsuit off in the cold, potentially pulling down my bikini bottoms with it. More yikes + TMI.

That’s why I made the style of towel in my last post, and it works year round. This type reduces the possibility of showing something whilst changing, but it can be quite hot to use for changing if it’s a 100 degrees out. 

Enter the style of towel I made for myself in this project. I’ll admit it’s not my idea, it’s a knockoff of another idea for a changing towel sold commercially that I saw on a friend. But, like I said in my last post, it’s a towel with a slit in it. In this case, you’ll just slice it all the way in half. Ooooooh.

Believe in your dreams

So, the old version I made years ago is super boring faded gray blue, made from an old guest bath towel. For this one, I splurged and got an actual beach towel from T.J. Maxx with crazy bright flamingoes covering it. The dimensions after washing it several times (reduces the pile of the terry too, so the gathering won’t be so bulky) was about 60″ by 36″. Pretty huge.

This looks about par for the course for me

I found the center, and used the print as a cutting guide, instead of the actual dimensions of the towel. If I measured it that way, the print could come out looking wonky.

Using the metal straight edge- like a pool cue line- I cut down the middle of the beaks of the flamingoes with the rotary cutter. This will make a good length for each half.

Lining up the cutting line

Using the rotary cutter tool

Time to change my blade- didn’t go on the first pass, and it’s ALREADY fraying


Of course, I needed to overlock the edge right away to prevent crazy fraying. I just used my machine for this one with an overlock foot:

I like to use a longer stitch length on terrycloth

So, I’m going to take the halves, turn them so the edge I just overlocked is now the top edge to be gathered. I overlapped one side edge over the other by two inches and pinned the halves together. Since I’m going to make a casing for elastic on the top edge of 1″, I’m going to sew the halves together straight down at least two inches, stop, and tack it well. I measured down 15″ from there, put in another marking pin to show where to resume stitching. This will create a pseudo pocket opening with some cover. Bluntly, this will allow me to access my bikini to remove it without anyone seeing what’s underneath, and allows me to put on a bra and fasten it while the towel’s on. Also while not being an over-your-head towel for Summer. Bonanza.

Overlapping two inches

15″ side access opening

The second side was tricky since I was sewing the cylinder shape shut, but I just sewed down from each edge, and it barely worked, but it worked, giving me a decent sized but not too wide access panel /pocket.
Before making the casing for the elastic at the top, I wanted to reduce the bulk and minimize hang ups of the elastic when I was threading it, so I cut out the area where the towels overlapped.

Cutting the bulk out with pinking shears

Bye dude

Next, I folded down the top two inches to make the casing for the 3/4″ non-roll elastic. I sewed the casing down just off the overlocked area, allowing for plenty of space to draw the elastic through.

Sewing the casing

Sewn down, leave an opening for the elastic

A bodkin’s handy for this

Make sure the elastic’s not twisted in the casing

I spread out the elastic in the casing evenly, tacked it down in a few spots, and DONE.

The “front” of this coverup should be where the front half of the towel overlaps the back for easiest access. Hopefully the pseudopockets are both facing in the right direction (a major worry always). Putting a bow on the front helps you know quicker than a tag inside the coverup.

Rainbow Brite goes to the Beach

I had just come back from a surf session- showing you a reflective modeling moment

More Beach Towel Cover Up DIY Fun

When I first made one of these towel cover ups a few years back, I noticed a lot of surfers were interested in making their own too- that includes the bros too! A lot of the mass market surfing coverups are outright expensive and they usually come in Henry Ford’s idea of color selection of products: black, black, and black. These coverups are so easy to make, even if you must hand sew them, it’s still worth the effort for a useful object. They won’t last forever, but it’s nice for objects to pull double duty as a towel/changing robe. Has a nice Zen quality….

I love using store bought beach towels (or used!) for this project. Buying terrycloth off the bolt from a fabric store is PRICEY and usually limited to baby blue, pink and yellow solid pastel colors. This use is also a great way to reuse older, thinner towels too. In this case, I used new beach towels in this project, but do I save old terrycloth??? Of COURSE I do!

A friend of mine wanted me to make her a changing robe with a hood in a nice ocean blue color, so I found a nice ocean themed beach towel at the outlet store, and I chose a hand towel in a contrasting shell pink to use for the hood. Together, the cost was $15. Yay! A lot better than $75 for a plain black RipCurl changing towel. Bleh.


I made a changing towel similar in style to my Deluxe Terrycloth Changing Towel I made last year- with just a few changes.

Some more things I learned from working with terrycloth, at least from these type of projects:

1. Wash the heck out of the towels at least twice in HOT water BEFORE sewing. It seems to minimize fuzz, and I get to see if the quality of the towel is good, while removing whatever chemicals may still be on the surface of the towel after manufacturing.

2. Overlock or serge your cut edges ASAP after cutting. Terrycloth frays out very easily.

3. Use a roller foot or walking foot for easier stitching on terrycloth. It glides over the material better, and seems to be a lot more forgiving.

4. Use a lighter tension and longer stitches when sewing. Since the material is pretty thick, it seems to keep the stitching more even.

Basically, on a 36″ by 60″ beach towel, I’m going to cut a hole in the middle of the towel for the head, fold it over, and stitch a little up each side, leaving openings for the arms. That’s really all there is to it! I added a hood by measuring the length of the hood base, and allowing that to be the neck circumference. I made a front slit in the neckline to allow a bit easier donning.

Checking out where I want the hood to be

Measuring how big the neck opening is going to be

Raw cut- I need to overlock ASAP!

Using quilter’s clips to attach the hood for sewing


Stitching the hood in place

Using the edge of the towel as seam tape keeps the raw edge protected- I topstitched it down

I ended up cutting this in for ease

Freakin’ overlock that crap NOW

I hand hemmed this section because of the tight space

I bar tacked the heck out of the base of the split to avoid tear outs

Arm opening on side

Now THAT’s a happy changing towel


One of my favorite shows is Shark Tank, and if you’ve  watched this show for a while, you’ll remember a lady who pitched “ShowNo”, a:

“Towel with a slit in it”

– Kevin O’Leary, Shark Tank

So this idea has been around a while, but that lady was smart and inked a sweet Disney deal out of it. 

We can’t let her win. It’s a towel with a slit in it. Go for it. Make your own and don’t let that Disney sellout get you down, yo. DIY’ers can’t hold back the gnar- thrash it, bro.

Where’s my freakin’ Disney deal? Hahaha

Wetsuit Recycle Project #4: Handplane Leash

I STILL use this handy little thing when I take out the Handplane I made a while ago. Enjoy this flashback project that proves I’ve been recycling from da way back, yo.

Originally Posted April 4th, 2012.


Since Summer’s in the air, I figured it was time to pull out the poplar wood handplane I made and make some things for it I’ve been meaning to in time for warm water bodysurfing season (with a hope for some hurricane swells!).

I haven’t lost the handplane yet out in the water, but I thought it might be good to have a little insurance. I wanted to make a leash, but nothing too obstructive that would get in the way. Around the house, we had one of these coiled cord keychains.

For back when I had to be Keymaster for a wild night at the Bar. Sucks.

I just needed the coiled cord, so I removed the key ring from the one end and used a pair of tin snips to cut the hook end free from the cord.

I have the rustiest snips ever

Next, I made a wrist strap by cutting off the last 2 inches of an old neoprene wetsuit sleeve.

No sew, ready to go

If you need a bigger cuff, just cut a two inch section higher up the arm. To attach the cuff and leash, I used pieces of kumihimo cord I made before (or you can use paracord), and an overhand knot tied off to one side of the hand hold. I also made a lark’s head around the neoprene cuff to secure it.

No metal on this leash

That’s it! I’m going to leave this leash attached to my board, but I can cut the tie off if I want. A plastic zip tie would work great also, but I just wanted to avoid using any metal that could scratch up the board or get rusty over time.

I wouldn’t expect this to hold in super heavy waves, but then if I get into a super heavy wave and get tossed, I don’t want a square foot of poplar within close proximity to me anyway….

They force dogs to do this competitively in California. That’s puppy abuse right there, yikes-a-rama.

Wetsuit Recycle Project #3: Neoprene Bikini

So technically, this is kind of a mod instead of a craft, but I felt I should include this. I picked up this 0.5 mm Rip Curl hybrid spring suit/swimsuit a couple of years ago. A friend of mine got one, and I thought it was a great idea- neoprene instead of thin Lycra! Warmth! I was sold.

I’m SO NOT modeling this on a public blog….

Problem was, after I wore it surfing a few times, it became quite clear my torso must be longer than Rip Curl Model Alana Blanchard’s, since I would suffer constant Wipeout Wedgies in this suit. Thank goodness I still wore a bikini beneath.

The top wasn’t coming up quite high enough on my chest, so I was pulling the straps up constantly, forcing the body of the suit to come up as well. Not a good look for anyone. Except maybe this guy.


So it was time for a mod.

First, I made my chalk marks at a little higher than the true waist on the suit. I didn’t cut any material away, since I intended to put hems in each piece. Since this is neoprene foam, however, it’s not really necessary. But, I felt having a hem would give each part a little “binding”, and a place to put elastic in the casing created by the hem, if needed. Just trying to make it last longer, and stay on during my frequent wipeouts, ya know? Of course, I weighted everything down before making my cut with my rotary cutter and a straight edge, since neoprene can be SLIPPERY.

Where I’m going to make my cut

Getting ready to make my cut


Now I’m ready to fold down my hems on each piece. No edge finish needed, no fraying, works for me.

I used my quilting clips since they have a measuring gauge built in. I estimated about an inch, so I’d have plenty of room to work with under the presser foot on my sewing machine. Folding the hem over will make 1 mm of neoprene foam total thickness being sewn under my home sewing machine- I’m safe. I did fold the hem to the inside, the material is soft enough to be pretty frictionless on my skin. I clipped down the heck out of both hems.

About an inch…

Handy gauges on the clips

Clipped to the hilt

I actually had some freaky neon yellow thread in my stash, but it was “poly sheen”, which means it’s slippery embroidery crap. That’s why I had some. It’s ALWAYS on sale since sewists hate it. Instead of trying to use it as a top thread, I put it in the bobbin, used white standard thread on top, and sewed my piece inside out. Much easier, less tangles, I’ve found.

Decent match for the top thread

After I did a round of zig zag stitching at 2.5 width and 2.5 length (this neoprene is very stretchy!!!, using a walking foot, I did a test fit. But, I was worried just one line of stitching wouldn’t be enough to hold up to the vigors to surfing.

Worried about just one line of stitching holding up


So, I did a few lines of zig zag stitching around each hem. I’m not too worried about extra holes in this neoprene foam at the hem, since this is more like fabric, and the stretchiness absolutely merited the extra insurance.

The fabric will distort a little under the presser foot while sewing, it’s all good


Extra room

I finally have extra room now for that morning muffin top to hang out after having my donuts and Diet Coke before surfing. Breakfast of champions.

Almost there….

New Life for Old Wetsuits- A Series

The past few days have been pretty chilly with lows in the 40’s on the coast. At least that’s chilly by my standards. 

However, the weather forecasts have been Polly Positive and saying that this will be as cold as it gets for the season. Good, we’ll be out of wetsuits soon. Bad, because more heat, more storms later. We saw that this past year unfortunately with Hurricane Matthew.

I rarely continue using the same wetsuit anymore after 2 seasons (years) of regular use, so if I get back to surfing this next 1/2 of the season, that will equate to 1 season of total wear on my current wetsuit. Yes, I keep track. They’re expensive. I also carefully check it at the end of the season to see how much wear and tear it REALLY got. If I’ve determined it’s time for a new one, what a great time to shop for a wetsuit. It’s the End-of-Season Clearance, and I can get a jump on next year. Woo Hoo! And don’t pig out over the Summer….

I know a lot of older surfers scoff at this, but the super stretchy neoprene that is used in suits now wears out QUICKLY. These modern wetsuits become VERY hard to resell as well, since this newer, stretchier neoprene tends to produce holes WITHIN the fabric easily, not just tearing along the seams. Trust me, my friends and I know this from personal experience, sadly.

Because of this, I’ve just hoarded my old suits as scrap neoprene, waiting for projects, repairs, or mods. You’ll find that if people discover that you use neoprene, you’ll get loads of scraps for free, hopefully washed. 

Not many companies do neoprene recycling. It’s really a shame, and there’s a LOT of wetsuits out there. 

Places that do Wetsuit Recycling:

Surfers, divers, kiteboarders, etc. all use wetsuits. Shame to not find something more to do with it. Maybe even kinda….surfy.

So I thought doing a few new recycled wetsuit projects in a little “series” to celebrate the coming of Summer would be in order!

Not judging whoever digs this, but this is not gonna happen on my watch, just letting you know:

It’s like your own neoprene diving bell