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Forum > Sewing Techniques and Tips > Wetsuit pattern and construction ( Moderated by MissCelie)

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Wetsuit pattern and construction
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jjosiejo
jjosiejo  Friend of PR
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Date: 2/7/14 12:52 PM

Hi, I am planning to make myself a wetsuit, I have some ideas about how to do it, but I was wondering whether anyone has done this before and might have some tips?
I have been thinking about it for a while and my plan is to butt-glue the seams and maybe hand stitch the fabric coating if necessary. Any recommendations for neoprene cement brands appreciated!

As for a pattern, I am thinking of drafting something based on the wetsuit pattern from the obsolete Pattern School website (the pdf of which is on pinterest). I want to create a wetsuit with princess seamed bodice, raglan shoulders, racer back and long legs, with built-in flex in the knees and mobility in the hips as it will be for canoeing in.

I plan on using 2mm neoprene, again any recommendations much appreciated!

I would love to hear from anyone with experience of wetsuit construction or design!

TIA �

SheBear0320
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In reply to jjosiejo <<
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Date: 2/7/14 1:31 PM

For patterns you may want to check out Jalie Patterns -- they have several patterns for skinsuits and unitards that may be adaptable.

Another pattern company to check out would be Kwik Sew.

Both of these companies could provide you with patterns that you could adapt for your needs.

Have never sewn a wetsuit but have done unitards for figure skating, gymnastics, dance and cycling.

------
Sheila
"sewing very slowly to fill an empty closet"

2014 Stash Busting Sew-Along:
56.0 yards sewn (as of 08/13/14)
113.125 yards purchased (as of 08/13/14)

Elona
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Date: 2/10/14 9:32 PM

Hi, I'm Elona's husband Mike, and I haven't made a wetsuit in 50 years, but back in the 60's we did it all the time. Butt-glueing was all we had (no nylon back then), and it worked just fine; in fact, I have a pair of shorts from that era that I still use from time to time and the seams are still good. We used a "V-design" from Dive-N-Surf that had seams descending from the clavicles over the nipples and getting closer as they descended (Elona says that's what you mean by "princess"), and it adapted well to females by just adding a bit of sector to both sides of the seam in the breast area. As I remember, the seams came up the front and the back of the sleeves and then angled down both the front and the back, which also resulted in raglan shoulders. Tips: Coat both sides of the seam, and let them dry before you press them together; do not rush it if you want the bond to hold (practice on scraps). Too dry is better than too wet. Also, as the seam approaches a free edge, as at the bottom hem or sleeve hem, swerve it sharply just before you get there. Do not let it form a true right angle, and it won't split out under stress. Those suits fit so well that we stayed dry inside for hours!
-- Edited on 2/10/14 9:38 PM --

jjosiejo
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Date: 2/11/14 6:49 AM

Thanks Mike, that is really helpful. I can't quite picture what you mean about swerving it (i.e. In which direction!) but I will do some practice and experiment a bit. Great tips on the glueing process, thanks.

I don't suppose you recall how much negative ease to use, i.e. How tight is comfortable?

Thanks again!

jjosiejo
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Date: 2/11/14 6:53 AM

...and thanks Sheila too! I have looked at the Jalie patterns and I think I need something with more shaping through the bodice as I am a very full hourglass and I think the seamless unitards would only really work on an athletic frame...?

SheBear0320
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In reply to jjosiejo <<


Date: 2/11/14 10:46 AM

You may want to check out Jalie 2800 for the princess style shaping through the bodice which could then be imposed over the unitard pieces for some shaping lines.

It could at least give you a starting point if you are having trouble getting that shaping.

It all depends on how comfortable you are drafting from scratch or if you would rather have a starting point for your drafting.

I have found that Jalie patterns are great for mixing and matching to get the look or design features you want.

------
Sheila
"sewing very slowly to fill an empty closet"

2014 Stash Busting Sew-Along:
56.0 yards sewn (as of 08/13/14)
113.125 yards purchased (as of 08/13/14)

Elona
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Date: 2/11/14 4:19 PM

Elona here: I'll try to explain what Mike meant (he's away just now), since I watched him do it many times. At the end of a seam, like at the hem or wrist, there's a tendency for glued, butt-joined seams to separate. I don't know if Mike invented this workaround or not, but if you sharply curve and taper the seam at the bottom, the stretch factor is dispersed and these seams don't rip out easily. I'll try to show a sketch with a little red line indicating the sharpish curve of the cut-and-join he used (though it's longer in my sketch than in real life).

wetsuit seam

As to negative ease, he didn't employ it to any great extent, because, as a diver, he found that too much restricted the ability to expand the chest and breathe! His suits were nice and tight, but not strangling. I think this is something you have to sort of learn with experience, but since you are going to use your suit for paddling it may be less critical.



-- Edited on 2/11/14 4:40 PM --

DolphinDancer30

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Date: 2/11/14 6:21 PM

Hi--I've made several wetsuits, including the one in my avatar. You can flatlock your neoprene seams with a serger and seal them. Test first and serge slowly. You'll need a sharp needle to pierce the neoprene and I like wooly nylon in the loopers and needle.

Personally, I dive with a variety of skins, layering them to suit my needs. I use this Kwiksew view A, using two layers of swim fabric (totally lined). You can add a hood to the collar, too. Adding an ankle strap is worthwhile and you can wear the ankle strap over your booties which helps keep your feet warm. Add an elastic for your thumb to keep the sleeve under your gloves. Usually I make a matching tank swimsuit using the princess tank from Kwik Sew Swim and Actionwear Book. For skins, I use ballpoint needles and wooly nylon in all the needles and loopers.

If you want wrist and ankle zips, add them in the seams. Check to be sure your bootie zip and your wetsuit zip aren't on the same side, because it will hurt/chafe your ankle bones. Similarly, the zipper pull shouldn't wind up under your dive watchband.

Here's a sample of seam sealant for neoprene.

Best Fishes, HTH & NAYY

Elona
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In reply to jjosiejo <<


Date: 2/13/14 3:40 AM

Two more links about wetsuit design, more as a curiosity than as instruction. The pattern on which my husband Mike based his homemade suits was that of the founder of the Body Glove company. Here is an old picture of their pull-on jacket for men. As you can maybe see, the V-seam ran from the crotch up towards the shoulders in a V shape, all right, but instead of terminating at an armhole seam, it continued out the arm to the bottom of the deltoid muscle. The sleeve was a shaped cylinder glued to that cutoff at the upper arm.

There was no underarm seam (which dh says made reaching for stuff very comfortable, with no tear-outs). The arrangement was more like a whole side-body gusset!

Here was their zippered design for women.
-- Edited on 2/13/14 3:44 AM --

jjosiejo
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Date: 2/13/14 11:10 AM

Wow, thanks for those! I am so lucky to have found such knowledgeable people! This is the pattern I was thinking of working from if I can manage to draft it to my size and adapt it: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/391672498814071526/ The V-shape front on the links you have posted might work well with the thong bodice construction of the pattern school version...?

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