I'm finally able to share with you a special sewing project I've been working on this past month on and off due to being so busy! From all the dozens of beach trips I've taken, there was never a truly comfortable solution to laying on the beach without sitting in a burning chair, having a beach towel fly away in the wind, and having to use whatever I had on hand as a pillow. I decided to do something about all that and make my own custom beach towel bag!
After browsing Pinterest, I found a few projects others had done with hand and bath towels that were sewn together to make a fitted pillow section, but no features for storage, handles, or the capability to take a pillow in and out to wash the whole bag when it got dirty. So, I sketched out a doodle of everything I wanted on my efficient beach towel bag and bought all the materials needed at Hobby Lobby and Walmart except for the pillow. We had a couple old flat pillows at home already, so this was a perfect opportunity to up-cycle them!
You will need a sewing machine for this project, unfortunately it would just take way too long if you tried to do this by hand. Creating my own patterns and sewing
this bag took me two full days to complete. Not joking, eight hours a day. One, because I was figuring out everything as I went since I'm a very very basic sewer, and two, because there were many add-ons to the towel that had to be accounted for. Gather these materials:
- Sewing machine
- XL beach towel
- Old pillow
- 2 yards of fabric that matches your beach towel
You'll want to keep in mind that the beach towel should be a few more inches than your height in order to get the maximum beach towel length needed. I actually found these super awesome XL seashell beach towels at Walmart near the end of June before our trip to Sanibel, Florida, not sure if they would still have them, but you might be able to find them online on the Walmart website, or Better Homes and Gardens' site.
I'm only going to cover the major steps I took because seriously, two days worth of sewing and step by step explanations would just be too much. If you have a specific question you'd like answered, leave a comment and I'll answer it the best I can. So let's get sewing!
Sew your standard-sized pillow case first, it will be the cornerstone piece in making sure everything else comes together the right way. After you cut out your pattern and pin it all together (pattern sides touching each other and back sides seen), make sure you've made the pattern big enough for the old pillow you'll be upcycling. Then choose whichever sturdy stitch you'd like, and sew.
I chose to make a pillowcase that would be protected from blowing sand, and be able to let me remove the pillow whenever need be without having to damage or wash the rest of the beach towel bag. You can see the layering in the pinned pattern below. After sewing, grab your old pillow and tuck in the case to make sure it fits correctly.
PROTECTIVE STORAGE POCKET
Aka my hiding pocket. I dread leaving my keys, sunglasses, or anything laying underneath just a towel or a bag while I'm laying down or beachcombing. Anyone could just walk by and see everything I have. Not with this protective storage pocket! It's right next to my head :) It's purpose is to get your items out of plain view. You could go as far as even adding a zipper, but I didn't know how to make that sewn in, so there's definitely room for improvement here. Also, because I'm a novice at this custom sewing pattern thing, I had no choice but to add-on the pocket to the pillowcase since I didn't know how to sew it all together in a single pattern. So all you professional sewers can probably figure that out.
Once you have your pattern cut and pinned, sew it together, then attach to the completed pillowcase where it needs to be sewn as one piece. You'll be able to see the pillowcase's protective fabric side better in the photo below. After sewing both pieces together, grab your old pillow and tuck it inside the pillowcase again to make sure everything still fits the right way.
CONNECTING TO THE BEACH TOWEL
This part was actually the hardest part for me. I wanted to merge the pillowcase and protective storage pocket into the beach towel as easily as possible - but didn't want it to look cheap. So I decided to fold a line of fabric and attach it to both the towel and the pillowcase at the same time. I had to keep in mind that I wasn't going to be working with a strong needle, so the thickness couldn't be too much or else I'd risk breaking my needle as I sewed along. I made a point to stay at least 1'' away from the end of the beach towel where the hardest and thickest part of the fabric started... well I ended up bending my needle anyways as I was sewing along :( Luckily I had a replacement for backup!! Had a little hiccup in the sewing process, but it turned out fine. After sewing, I again checked that the old pillow would fit inside the pillowcase ok.
Super important that you take the time to place your bag handles correctly or else everything will be off balance and out of place. You need two handles sewed at the same thickness and size. One will be on the backside of the beach towel in the middle, and the other will be on the backside at the very bottom.
Fold the top pillow section down about four times (depends on your towel size) and you should be around the area you need to pin your first handle to. Once you figure that placement out, you can align the handle at the bottom of the beach towel to fit the same length. Pin the handles to the towel and sew them sturdy enough to hold at least 2-3 pounds worth of fabric and towel. These handles need to be able to stay put.
HOLDER FOR SUNGLASSES & FLIP FLOPS
Now you're at the fun part. Never crush your sunglasses or fill your flip flops with sand again!! Inside the protective storage pocket I decided to add-on a holder for sunglasses or keys so that they would stay put in one place. I also sewed at the bottom of each beach towel corner pockets to keep flip flops in to hold down the towel when it's put on the sand. You could also keep suntan lotion bottles, goggles, or shells that you find combing the shoreline.
Guess what? YOU'RE DONE!! I applaud you if you can manage to get this project done in less than 16 hours of sewing patterns together. By far my most intensive DIY project yet, but definitely well worth doing. The pillow is so much better than a folded tshirt :) Use it on the beach, in your backyard, at the park for a picnic, camping, and so many other activities. Here's a grand tour...
To fold the beach towel bag properly so the weight is evenly distributed and held together by the straps, follow the steps below.
Fold protective storage pocket side over to the right.
Fold pillow section down.
Fold down a second time.
Fold down a third time.
Fold down a fourth time.
Fold edges of towel inside the bag.
Ta-da! Now head somewhere to relax.
Hope y'all enjoyed this DIY as much as I did! Remember, if you have any questions about the steps I took to make the beach towel bag, leave a comment below and I'll answer your question the best I can. If you make a bag, please show all of us by visiting the
ArtSea Chic Facebook page and leaving a picture on the wall so I can share with everyone!
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