DIY Barbie Doll Float Tube

The Inspiration
One garage sale and one Styrofoam craft ring in a surprise bag and my inspiration struck. We love floating on tubes at the lake so why shouldn’t Barbie! I  likes projects that are reasonably simple and fast to make and this project fits the bill. I would give it a medium level of difficulty and suggest parents do this project along with their little Barbie enthusiast.


Whenever possible I try to make my projects from recycled or salvage things or I up-cycle, restore or re-use found items. I  like the idea of inspiring others  to turn something old into something new!

Barbie Doll DIY Float Tube Make form Old Swim Trunks. #barbieaccessories #barbiedoll #rivertube #floattube #handmade #toys #swimtrunks Beach #beachtoys #DIY #recycle #repurpose #upcycle

Getting Started
Once I had the Styrofoam ring and the inspiration I got to digging through fabric and couldn’t find anything that worked  so I checked the bag of  clothes I’d set aside to give away and there they were – my grandsons old swim trunks!

DIY Barbie Doll Float Tube for River or Lake Made from Swim Trunks #barbiedoll #barbieaccessories #craft #toy #handmade #DIY #nosew #reuse #floattube #upcycled #beachvacation #dollThese swim trunks were perfect with lots of color and patterns, netting inside and 4 grommets at the waist. The shorts I used were men’s small. If you don’t have any call your friends with growing kids or check your local Thrift shop.

The first thing I did was cut out a piece of one leg large enough that I could wrap it around the ring. I used a paint brush to apply tacky glue to the ring then placed the fabric on top of the ring and slowly worked the fabric around the ring until it came together at the bottom . I cut off any excess fabric and secured it  with glue.
Use stick pins to hold until glue sets. This can be a bit tricky – an option is to cut fabric in 2″ strips and wrap it around but makes it harder to get the pattern you want to display.

A bottom is optional but I chose to cover two cardboard circles in fabric and glue them together good sides out and then glued it to the bottom of the tube to cover where the fabric was gathered and bunched underneath.

DIY Barbie Doll Float Tube for River or Lake Made from Swim Trunks #barbiedoll #floattube #accesories #upcycled #DIY #toys #beach

Now it was time for some detailing! I needed handles, and grommets with wrap around cord and a back rest. The shorts had 4 grommets for the tie up cord. I cut them into 4 equal pieces then glued them evenly around the tube with tacky glue. Again use stick pins to hold glued pieces down until they dry. The shorts came with a white cord but I opted to use a black shoe lace instead – a bit thinner and easier to work with.

double grommet pictures DIY Barbie Doll Float Tube for River or Lake Made from Swim Trunks #barbiedoll #floattube #accesories #upcycled #DIY #toys #beach

Now what to do about the handles? I’m one of those craft people who has endless supplies of odds and ends that I collect along the way. I found a little package of corded loops that I had picked up at the City of Edmonton Reuse Centre years ago – finally a purpose! I just glued them to each side and ta-da… perfect handles! It’s unlikely you’ll have this exact same thing just lying around your house but dig through the junk drawers and see what you can come up with – that’s what makes it so fun, there is no one way – it’s all about imagination and turning something old into something new.

float tube handles DIY Barbie Doll Float Tube for River or Lake Made from Swim Trunks #barbiedoll #floattube #accesories #upcycled #DIY #toys #beach

Two more steps and you’re done! Next you add the netting. If the shorts you have don’t have a netting lining inside dig around and see if you can find something that does – an old back pack pocket, or tattered gym bag maybe? You want to have enough netting that you can cut a large enough circle to fit inside. Glue along the inner edge leaving enough netting to hang down so Barbie can sit into the tube. My netting had a nice trim but it only went half way around so I used some electric tape over the raw edges of the remaining glued netting just to make it look tidy and more realistic.

Netting seat float tube handles DIY Barbie Doll Float Tube for River or Lake Made from Swim Trunks #barbiedoll #floattube #accesories #upcycled #DIY #toys #beach

And now you’re ready to add the back-rest! Once again I dug through my supplies for something that might work and discovered a  package of flexible foam curlers from the Dollar Tree. They are like miniature pool noodles. They were a little too long so I removed the wire that is inside and cut them to the length (about 4″) I tried stacking and gluing them with tacky glue but it wouldn’t hold so I used Gorilla clear glue (not a great idea to let kids use this so supervision is required)  An option might be foam glue or maybe even a glue gun. Again – use stick pins to hold in place until it drys. If you don’t have flexible foam curlers get creative and try something else, maybe cover a piece of corrugated cardboard in left over swim trunk fabric or color the cardboard with markers?

Foam Back Rest float tube handles DIY Barbie Doll Float Tube for River or Lake Made from Swim Trunks #barbiedoll #floattube #accesories #upcycled #DIY #toys #beach

In about 2 hours (leaving time for glue to dry along the way) this project was done and I’m thrilled with how it turned out. Remember kids love new and unique Barbie accessories so teach them how to make their own – spend some special time together creating something new from something old.

float tube handles DIY Barbie Doll Float Tube for River or Lake Made from Swim Trunks #barbiedoll #floattube #accesories #upcycled #DIY #toys #beach

Check out how I made the Upcycled Barbie Doll Beach Chair from an old dish rack and tablet case!

If  you want to make a super cute retro bikini top and bottoms has some great videos, tutorials and patterns!

See More Barbie Doll DIY Projects Here

4 thoughts on “DIY Barbie Doll Float Tube”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.