The Latest Surfing Gimmicks and Fads

Like I’ve said before, I’m a total sucker for new little surfy inventions and fads. But, like anything, some are good, some are….interesting. I’m not a sponsored surfer by any means (still waiting to get sponsored by KFC so I can get my free biscuits), so these are just my random, average surfer insights. N-Joy.

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Dry Start Wetsuit System

Dry Start

Of course, this invention on Kickstarter is from San Diego- the land of chilly water. It’s a solution to dry your Wetsuit fast by using an attachment to the roof of your car. Then, I guess you drive like a maniac until your blow-out of your suit is complete. I can work with that. Also doubles as an impromptu body bag. Yikes.

Pros: Fastest way yet to dry a wetsuit and get out some road rage.

Cons: Bad news if the wetsuit bag flies off the roof of your car and finds a lawyers’ windshield.

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The Orange Peel Wax Container (Peel Surf Co.)

Peel Surf Co.


I’ve used silicone molds a lot for making my own wax, recycling wax, etc., so this is not a new idea. However, it’s a mold with a wax “break” line that fits into a car’s cup holder. Smart. Wax melts everywhere here in Florida, where it’s 90 degrees consistently every Summer day. But it’s microwaveable too, so you can whip up a batch of wax without a double boiler. Gnar.

Pros: Will save the inside of a surfmobile, might make you feel all crafty if you make your own wax

Cons: A little pricey at $12, but then, it’s kinda a specialty item. Good for Crafty Surfers- full disclosure: I totally backed this on Kickstarter since I love making wax. Just hope I don’t accidentally take a sip from this on a hot day.



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Fashion Color Wetsuits

Roxy, Billabong and XCel have reintroduced color back into neoprene again. This time, there’s less neon green and hot pink, and more modern colors and prints. However, sometimes I feel like I’m doing cosplay at the local Trekker convention in the current designs offered.

Pros: Some style in the water, bright Neoprene always improves the look of your surfing photos.

Cons: You may have to report to Captain Jean-Luc Picard, Number Two.



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Quiver Grip Surfboard Rack System

Quiver Grip

This was a new product I found out about recently, and the inventor is from Brevard County, Florida. This rack system uses plastic grips to corral your surfboards upright- like pulling a book from a shelf. It reminds me a bit of an IKEA solution to surfboard storage. It seems easy to install, and it’s cheap (less than $50 for a 3 board wall mount kit). Not crazy about the plastic beer-can holder look of the grips, though.

Pros: Like Huggable Hangers for your surfboards, inexpensive, easy to install and move around on the rail

Cons: Aesthetics of a frat house



Keep on trend, brah!

Ask Mr. Spicoli



Wetsuit Recycle Project #5: Neoprene Bean Chillaxin’ Cushion

So, if you start saving your old neoprene, you’ll end up saving your scraps too. Neoprene’s an expensive material, and the surf and SCUBA wetsuits have a lot of good pricey bits left over in addition to the neoprene, such as zipper pulls and the durable zippers themselves. I’ll scrounge the wetsuits until the bitter end, using every bit that I can. Hey, this stuff can be expensive if bought individually at the craft store. This is especially true for quality stuff that holds up to saltwater and the outdoors.

Sorry to say, I have even more scrap than this

 
Try to save up your larger fields of neoprene for other craft projects. The rest of the little scrap (e.g. trimming bits, scrap, old test sewing/serger scraps) will be chopped up into a “bean bag” like stuffing for a great little foot pillow to put my feet up on after a long surf session full of wipeouts. Keeps my nasty feet directly off the nice wooden coffee table too.

This project is also great for neoprene that’s full of holes and tears, since you’re going to slice, dice, and julienne it anyway. Rip Curl used to do their Wetsuit Recycling Program by making bean bag chairs from old wetsuits using this method, which is where I got this idea.

I love to use a rotary cutter with a blade that’s got some miles on it for this type of project. By the time I’m done slicing this stuff into bits, the blade will be pretty much dulled out. Of course, you can use scissors for all or some portion of this job. You’ll need scissors to cut away stuff like zippers that you’ll be saving, hint, hint…

Making cross-cross cuts

Don’t cut it up powder fine- this is just a bean bag

Oh, Wilbur!!!!

Just a few more pounds….

 
Once you’ve got enough for pillow stuffing, collect them and set them aside. And don’t accidentally knock the bag of bits onto the floor of your sewing room. It sucks. Trust me.

For the pillow form, I used an old bed pillow protector I bought a while back. I didn’t care for this particular pillow protector since it was kind of a crunchy material to sleep on. But, since I had used and washed it, I kept it. Perfect for this use as a foot pillow, and I can always add more bits later for more pillow loft if I want. Bonus.

Old pillowcase protector is now a fillable pillow form

 
I trimmed down the sides I needed to be narrower (it’s for a coffee table, after all), and sewed it up on the machine. Easy. Now I can throw all those bits of neoprene into the “bag”, zip it up, and I have a pillow. Boom.

Chock full o’ neoprene

Now to make it pretty.

I used another old pillowcase that was threadbare and made it into my scrap pile, of course. The nice thing is, there’s less sewing since it’s already a pillowcase. Sew up the sides, that’s it.

But, since I must get all artsy-fartsy, I got out my surf t-shirt scraps, some Steam-A-Seam Lite (iron on adhesive sheet), and a fin for a template. The iron on double stick adhesive sheets can turn any fabric into a sticker appliqué onto another fabric. I love the stuff.

I’m using the small pocket graphics for this project

It’s like cool fabric sticker making awesomeness

I traced some fins onto the sheets, cut them out, then placed them on the graphic bits of the t-shirts I wanted to highlight. I also cut a few out from solid color sleeves from other t-shirts for contrast.

Tracing the fins

Using a sleeve from an old shirt

I apply just a bit of heat with the iron to each cut piece before peeling the backing away

 
I peeled off the backing, and placed the fins wherever I wanted. I kind of copied our local Florida Surf Museum‘s logo, and tried “waves.” 

You can move around the pieces until they’re where you want them

My final layout

 

If you iron the pieces down well per instructions, you don’t have to do appliqué stitching around each piece since it’s permanently fused to the cloth. However, I never pass up an opportunity to use up any of the craft stash. There’s really not a lot of stitching here, so I’ll use up some crazy colors, or tail end of spools I need to clear out.

Use it or lose it

 
Like my T-Shirt Pillow Project, I’m going to have fun with the stitching, and use some of those 101 stitches I never use on this machine. I did cut open another side of the pillowcase to make this work easier under the sewing machine. This is no biggie, since I want to line it anyway after I’m done with the appliqué using another old pillowcase.

Ok, this was a boring stitch photo

Once I lined my pillowcase, I popped the Neoprene Bean bag into the case, and I’m done!

Neoprene bean bag pillow form

With the pillowcase on

Better than stanky feet on the coffee table

You can add more neoprene beans

 


Crafty’s Final Thought:

Remember kids-

Me with IKEA furniture

My Neoprene Hopes, Dreams… and Screams

Sounds like a scene from Fifty Shades Darker, but how else can I describe this roller coaster journey I’ve undertaken with this strange and wonderful fabric? Here’s some thoughts on the subject as we get into talking about neoprene…..

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A lot of people revere neoprene as sacred (hey, it is pretty cool). But, that can be a shame when you become SO worried about altering your $350 fancy wetsuit, swimsuit, or questionable lingerie (we don’t judge here) to work for your needs, you don’t even wear it. Or you sell it and lose $200 on it since you tried to give it a few chances. Or, the worst case, you have to donate it or even ditch it in the trash. Then you have to buy yet ANOTHER one to replace it. More future waste.
For most healthy minded adults, the days of resale and purchase of used wetsuits have ended. I mean, yeah, the kids out there trying to save a few bucks might buy a used suit from you, but you just can’t expect to get even 25% of what you originally paid for it, especially if you used it for a season. Gross. If you expect more, well, that’s just being a mean grinch to the poor kid.

Still funny the millionth time I see it

That being said, a surfer should get to know a little about their neoprene, since wetsuits are usually part of a surfer’s life at some point. I’ve had to teach myself quite a bit since I’ve started surfing, and now I find my friends asking me questions about fixing and altering their own gear to what they need. Figured I’d share what I’ve discovered, tried, and certainly FAILED at, so all of us can keep some extra neoprene out of landfills!
We’ll start off the series with this intro, and go through a wetsuit modification, then make some new projects from scrap neoprene as we go along, since I’ve got a LOT of scrappage around!

About Neoprene

Neoprene is a synthetic (non-natural) material created chemically by DuPont in 1930. The original process to make the stuff was SO smelly and made the material smelly too. No one wanted to buy it for anything back then because of it. Do you blame them?

It still smells like chemicals

As the process for making neoprene was improved by DuPont, it became less stinky, and much more usable. The type of neoprene we use as surfers today is made from what’s called neoprene “foam”.

If you look closely at your wetsuit, it’s probably made from neoprene foam about 2 millimeters or 3 millimeters thick, maybe even up to 7 mm! This is neoprene rubber that has been injected with tiny nitrogen (inert gas) bubbles, helping to provide that nice insulation. Yours may even have some nylon or spandex rubber mixed into the neoprene to make it “ultra stretch.” This mix also tears ultra easy, but you may already know that. Unfortunately I do.

If you would like to follow along with this mini series drama (hey, I post on the days I can, yo) I would recommend picking up a few tools for working with neoprene on the regular:

Tools For Working With Wetsuits

60 mm Rotary Cutter

Two brands of cutters, the one on the left is a lot pricier

The handles for these aren’t expensive, but the blades ARE. And they are SHARP. But if you want a good, even, professional looking cut, this tool is a must with neoprene. The smaller diameter rotary cutters can be useful sometimes, but the 60 mm rotary seems to get the most action here in Cocoa Beach among the surfing squad.


Shears for thick material

Surprised at how well these work

I have a pair of heavy duty Fiskars I picked up that seem to work well for curves and tight places that the rotary cutter can’t do. These are mostly good in projects, or specialty modifications to wetsuits.


GOOD Cutting surface

My table, and my self healing cutting mat

It can be a self healing mat on the concrete floor of your garage, just make sure it’s clean, level, and accessible from all sides. The cutting mat will help keep you from dulling those costly rotary blades you just bought. 

If you can, wait until around until September/October when they start having sales on quilting stuff and pick up an entire cutting set from a craft store like Michael’s or Joann’s. It’ll be around the start of wetsuit season (at least in the USA), so you’ll be set! Split the cost with your surfing buddies- even better. 
Dulled Seam Ripper

Just a bit of sanding is necessary


You’ll need a seam ripper on occasion for doing any type of modification, but some of these seam rippers they make today have a stitch pick that could double for an ice pick! Since stitches on neoprene are usually not ultra fine, I’d rather use some sandpaper to dull a dedicated seam ripper to lessen the probably of poking a nice hole in the neoprene foam. I’m sure lots of others do this too!
Neoprene Foam Adhesive 

Since I have learned THE HARD WAY that my home sewing machine cannot sew more than 2 mm of neoprene thickness comfortably (even with a walking foot), I use neoprene adhesive for seams. Good for repairs AND projects, so it’s a must for all surfers.
Fire-line (fishing line) in Clear OR 

Polyester thread of a matching color, and heavy gauge repair needle

Use lightweight fishing line

This is also a must for making minor repairs to seams, or sewing recycled neoprene projects. Always important to have on hand and know how to use it case a seam rip happens. Use a sharp point needle since you do need to “poke holes” in the fabric, or follow previous stitching holes- I’ll explain later why neoprene is tricky to stitch (hint: tear factor!).

Clips, Clips, Clips (sometimes a staple or two….)

Gotta get creative!


Since using straight pins to hold neoprene together can really distort it, the best bet is to clip it. The green clips in the pic are quilters’ clips, which are ideal, since they are designed to hold thick material together while it’s being sewn.

The cheaper options are hair clips and barrettes- you probably have these, or know someone who does.

Stapling neoprene together is an option that I Save for crafting with neoprene, since it can poke holes, obviously. It works great, though.

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Ok, so in the next post, we’ll do a little wetsuit alteration that I’ve wanted to get around to for a while. Hopefully, I’ll be able to use it in the Fall too. 

Every Fall it’s the same thing. You macho surf guys in the lineup, EVERY time you say something about me wearing a wetsuit “too early”, all I can picture is this:

    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

    Wetsuit Buying Online

    Since it’s about that time of year, I thought about reposting a helpful guide to buying your surf wetsuit.

    I originally posted this in January, 2014, but I’ve added updated links and more info.

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    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:
    Only order from an online shop that has a clear return policy, preferably with free returns, of course.
    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:

    XCEL: https://www.xcelwetsuits.com/media/transfer/img/xcel_size_chart_2.jpg

    RIPCURL Men’s and Women’s: http://www.ripcurl.com/product-size-guide.html

    O’NEILL Men’s and Women’s: http://au.oneill.com/shop/index.php/size-guide

    QUIKSILVER Men’s and Boys’: http://www.quiksilver.com/wetsuit-size

    ROXY Women’s and Girls’: http://www.roxy.com/wetsuit-size/

    HYPERFLEX Men’s and Women’s: http://hyperflexusa.com/size-chart/

    PATGONIA Men’s: http://www.patagonia.com/size-mens-suits.html

    BODY GLOVE Men’s, Women’s, Juniors’, and Youth: http://bodyglove.com/wetsuit-size-chart/

    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.
    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.
    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.
    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.
    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!!!