Upcycled Beach Towel Surf Poncho/ Change Towel

Today we are going to show you how to make your own very simple upcycled beach towel surf poncho/ change towel. This is basically a beach towel with holes for the head and arms! They are super handy for getting changed at the beach or pool if you are after a little more privacy than baring all. Also used as a regular towel to dry off this is really your one towel stop! The best part is just how simple they are to make! If you own a sewing machine you will have the skills needed to make your own surf poncho.

These upcycled beach towel surf ponchos can be made for both adults and kids. It is as easy as changing the size of the towel used. Put your old beach towels to good use with this simple tutorial and save a load of money while you are at it.

Upcycled Beach Towel Surf Poncho/ Change Towel

For Christmas, I got everyone in our wee family a poncho towel. Where we live we are surrounded by water. We spend loads of time at the beach and because there is so much water the girls both do swimming lessons. So safe to say we have plenty of opportunities to use surf ponchos/ change towels.

The girls were loving their new ponchos and all was well until we lost Miss 8’s poncho towel! By we, I really mean ME, eek! I hung it on a tree to dry and totally forgot about it when I packed up our belongings to head home. Thankfully we found a new one for a great price online but that did get me thinking about how easy they would be to make.

After that replacement came we were discussing how it would be great to have a set of these towels on our boat. Now I don’t know about you but I hate spending money on stuff (not exactly true as there is lots of “stuff” I do love spending money on, just not on expensive beach ponchos). So I thought that I could put our old beach towels to good use and upcycle them into surf ponchos.

These upcycled Beach Towel Surf Poncho/ Change Towels do not have a hood. This is for a few reasons. Firstly, I wanted to make them quick and easy to sew. I am not an expert sewer which means that if I can make them, so can you! Secondly, we don’t use the hoods, they add extra bulk and take longer to dry. Lastly, I wanted to use only one beach towel per poncho towel to save resources.

So this is the super easy upcycled beach towel surf poncho/ change towel that I came up with! Now I almost guarantee you that there are fancier sewing tutorials out there on surf ponchos. The thing is we don’t all have the time or skills (or just can’t be bothered) so this is a great quick DIY alternative.

If you are interested in surf ponchos to buy then check out these awesome towels below. These are affiliate links which means we earn a small commission through linked sales. This adds no cost to you but helps with the ongoing running costs of diyThought. As always we thank you for your support!

Totally Awesome Surf Ponchos To Buy

How To Make Your Surf Poncho/ Change Towel

The one shown today was made for my 8-year-old daughter and modeled by Miss 5. I can fit it over my head (averaged sized adult) and fit my arms in it. Because of the size towel used the length is suitable for a child. If you want to make this for an adult follow the same directions but make sure you use a large beach towel! Fold it in half and that will give you a good indication of the length of the final surf poncho.

I have kept this tutorial very simple, as it is very simple to make! Have a look at the photo below to get some guidance on the trickier parts.

  1. Start by folding your towel right side together in half. Cut along the fold line so you have two pieces of towel material.
  2. Make a cut down the center on once piece of the cut towel approx 5 inches (12cm). See the first photo. Fold each side to a slight triangle shape and sew. Sew a small extra line going through the joined triangle to give the neck area some extra strength and protection from splitting.
  3. Fold the cut edge over and sew the width on both pieces of toweling.
  4. Place the towel pieces right side together and put pins in place to indicate where you need to sew (look at the photo for a guide). I left an 11 inch (28cm) gap for the arms and head. I could fit my adult-sized arms and head through this gap but for a very large person make the gap slightly larger. Our model is 5 and as you can see there is plenty of space for her. If using a smaller towel feel free to reduce the head and armholes for a small child. Place two pins at towards the bottom of the poncho, this is where you will stop sewing.
  5. Sew the shoulder area. Stitch a straight line from the pin at the neck gap all the way to the edge of the towel and repeat for the other side.
  6. Sew the sides. Starting from below the arms sew a line down to the bottom pin. This is demonstrated in the above photo. Do this for both sides.
  7. Take the pins out and turn so the right side is out. Your poncho surf towel is now complete!
Upcycled beach towel to surf poncho

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  1. Wendy Mason May 9, 2021 at 6:43 am - Reply

    I really like this beach cover up and I’m thinking of making a few for grandchildren. Can you give me an idea of the size of the towel you used please? I find even beach towels vary in size.
    Thank you

    • Kelly Sanderson May 13, 2021 at 7:20 pm - Reply

      Hi Wendy, The best thing to do would be to fold the beach towel in half to see how long the poncho will be. A large beach towel will be too long for younger children however you could sew the ends to make it shorter if needed. Some of the small kids beach towels might be too narrow. This was just a regular towel size (one similar to a bath towel) which worked well, however next time I make one I will go for a larger towel as my girls have grown so need a little more length. Hope this helps!

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