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Altering your own suit?

Thread Status: Hello , There was no answer in this thread for more than 60 days.
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where did the summer go?
Jun 27, 2003
Hi, I have searched various threads (except for maybe *that* one :p ) about altering suits, but still don't have a clear idea on how to do it. I am excellent with the sewing machine, but I have not as yet hacked apart a wetsuit. Please tell me, those of you who have ventured into this personally, when you want to "adjust" your wetsuit ('m too skinny for mine in the waist and I get a balloon of water inside).. do you measure, then cut, then glue, then handstitch? Or is there a way to do it by machine? What kind of thread is best? Also, if you do it along a seam, do you even need the glue?
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I'd like to know about this too as my sister has a suit that is too floppy on the arms for her. It is made of that really thick but very easy to rip material - is that open cell ? It's the stuff that gets marked or rips if you aren't really careful and if you try to patch it the thread rips through it... Warm but not the easiest material to work with !

Well looking forward to finding out too.... Ed

You should patch open cell suits with glue. Even big tears usually bond pretty nicely. There are many to choose from (I think this may have even been a topic of contention at one time). I use this stuff. You can get it at just about any online divestore.

*can't be of further help because I've never needed to (nor would I have the brass ones to) start hacking away at one of my suits.

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..if I spend enough time looking...

OK, just to reply to my own question: I found an interesting site about sewing neoprene:


Also this:

Probably the best way to determine the quality of a suit is to look at the seams. Are there errant threads sticking out? Is the stitching strong enough to withstand the constant pressure on the seam? Does it allow water to seep through the seam?

If a wetsuit rips, it's usually in a seam, so the type of stitch used is very important. Durability is the most important feature. In most situations, you don't really have to worry too much about making sure the seam is absolutely watertight. However, if you plan on spending a lot of time in the water, especially in cold conditions, then watertight seams are important.

A number of different types are used throughout the industry:

An Overlock Stitch is the most basic stitch in wetsuits and is created by sewing the seams of the suit inside out so the stitch is invisible from the outside of the suit. It is durable and economic, but it does allow some water in through the seams and can be rather bulky.

A Flat-lock Stitch is a weave of six or seven threads which slightly overlap two edges and create a lattice work of threads to secure the sides of the seam together, making it extremely strong and durable. The seam ends up being flat, so it's comfortable. It's rather expensive stitch to use.

A Zig-zag stitch is very flexible and broad, but not as durable as other stitches. Usually, you see this stitch in low stress areas like the cuffs or where padding is attached.

A Blind Stitch is one in which the needle does not go all the way through the neoprene, meaning water doesn't seep through the seam, making it great for cold weather suits. Glue can also added to complete the seal.

Taped Seams are ones in which a strip of material is sewn over the stitched seam, making it watertight.

Zippers are another common area of failure, and nothing is more frustrating than having a zipper blow out. Usually, zippers on wetsuits are made of strong plastic, so they won't corrode. It's an area of high stress, so look carefully at the seams that connect the zipper to the suit.


..that said, I feel confident now that I can hack apart this wetsuit and bind the new seams with glue, then try a hand-blind stitch, finished with a taped seam. Since it is a wetsuit, I won't freak out too badly if it came down to having to zig-zag stitch the seam (it's supposed to let a little water in, no?) :D Maybe I'll take some before and after pictures..?
Well, I put the wetsuit on, pinched up the excess material down the sides and safety-pinned them, forming two darts about 2.5" wide at the widest part of the dart. Then I took off the suit, cut out the darts and started stiching the dart together from the outside, using a small delicate baseball stitch. When I had it stitched back together, I then used the seal cement to cover the seams. (I put the suit back on and my husband painted the seams). I'm trying it out tommorrow, but so far, it fits good and snug now.
Is there possibly any pictures of the result or the seams after altering maybe?

What suit did you change?
Hey, i have a question.

I decided that my farmer john omer suit would be much better as a high waist suit, so i cut it at the appropriate level. The only thing i overlooked was the fact that without the tension from the shoulder straps, the wetsuit isnt tight around my chest anymore, i have about two or three inches of slack wetsuit that can be taken away.

My question is how to tighten the suit around my chest area. I was thinking of cutting a "V" shape on the chest of the suit, with the bottom of the V starting at my hips and growing wider up until it was about three inches wide at the top of the now high waist(chest) pants. the only thing was i dont know what type of glue or stitching to use, or if this would even work.

Any help would be appreciated:)

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Man, here I am scared to poke/burn little holes in the ears of my hood! :duh Impressive stuff, kids!
quasimoto said:
My question is how to tighten the suit around my chest area. I was thinking of cutting a "V" shape on the chest of the suit, with the bottom of the V starting at my hips and growing wider up until it was about three inches wide at the top of the now high waist(chest) pants. the only thing was i dont know what type of glue or stitching to use, or if this would even work. Any help would be appreciated:)

I've done lots of alterations in the past, and that's exactly right. Use neoprene glue for wetsuits. It's usually cheaper at outdoor shops like MEC (Canada) or REI (US) in the kayaking department. You wont need to sew the suit: the glue will do the trick if you follow the directions properly.
Good luck,
Erik Y.
Did the V in the front work?

I should really take a look at some of the more rubbery suits to see if this could be done the same in the same manner. The suit I was describing earlier was your typical nylon covered neoprene for general watersports. The brand name was "Slippery" and the suit was a "female" Daisy shortie- that looked like it was tailored more for a guy... but it was cheap- so hey! Why not!
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All I've got the guts to do is hack the vest part off my johns to turn them into high waist pants... I have however done extensive repairs to my smoothskin picasso suit. I had a 12-13" tear in the pants, and it's like new now that it's glued. I used the picasso glue from the DB store. Cheap enough and works great.

Good to see you back! You're in BC now?? Whereabouts? Closer to the water then you were I hope!

Heheh, I made a similar adjustment to a O'Neill vest i got from Ebay, cheap, as well, so I didn't feel bad for removing the hood (it squeezed my head too much) from the vest and just having a vest! Yeah, if I was going to get something sleek and new, I would be afraid to cut it up that's for sure! Is the Picasso glue comparable to the AquaSeal or the MEC glue? I found Aquaseal to be quite messy to work with.

OMG, yeah I am closer to the water, I should say! I don't miss Saskatchewan at all to tell the truth, except that the local indoor pool there was nice and deep as opposed to the one here-- but once spring hits, I'm gonna be a neoprene vagabond. Apparently theres lots of good diving spots all in good range!!
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