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Wetsuits (One Size or Can They Be Altered?)

Many people enjoy wearing wetsuits when they go swimming. They can be a fun and stylish way to stay warm in the water, but sometimes we want something different than what is available at our local stores. This blog post talks about whether or not someone could alter their own wetsuit at home in order to get the desired look and fit.

Yes, nearly all wetsuits can be altered to better fit the wearer. While true there are sizes, just like normal clothing adjustments can be made to ensure a more consistent fit and feel. Also, making a suit smaller is going to be less expensive than making it larger, due to having to add material.

Just because the wetsuit comes in specific sizes from the wetsuit manufacturer and stores this doesn’t mean they are a one size fits all perfect match. For most getting little modifications will make for a much more comfortable and longer wear time with a custom wetsuit alteration.

What Happens When You Have a Poorly-Fitted Wetsuit?

A poorly fitting wetsuit can cause many issues with your outdoor pursuits in many different ways, typically due to being too tight-fitting or too loose causing some specific issues:

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  • Wetsuit Too Tight – You will be very warm overall but movement will be highly restricted and you will have a loss in overall comfort. If overly tight there is a high chance of irritation where the seams run against your skin and stress to the wetsuit on those same seams causing leaks and breakdowns over time.
  • Wetsuit Too Big – When a wetsuit is too big you will have a much easier time getting into it but the function in the water will be impaired. The gaps and excess material will allow much more water into your suit causing your body to work harder to generate warmth than intended.

Each of these is a problem and the suit really should be altered to take care of this and get the fit right for you. This will help it perform efficiently and make sure that you don’t suffer from extra pains due to tight fit or looseness.

Why Would You Want to Alter Your Wetsuit?

As you can see from the above information, you may need to have alterations just to correct minor fit issues or you may have bigger issues that come with time like putting on a few more pounds than the suit can currently handle.

The reverse of this also happens when you drop weight the wetsuit will not fit the same way either and this would mean you need to get it taken in to ensure it doesn’t compromise the suit’s performance.

The overall fit of your wetsuit is a huge factor in the terms of its overall buoyancy and insulation properties and without the right fit, you will find the experience less fun and comfortable.

One thing you should keep in mind though is that neoprene can shrink over time and that you may still have fit issues even while maintaining weight if this has occurred but you would still need alterations to repair this issue.

Now, most of what I spoke about was on the main body side with weight loss or gain but for many, the changes they may want will be to the arms, legs, or collar. Looking to add on features like fasteners like velcro, so alterations can be made all over your suit for many problem resolutions.

The last part that many choose to have alterations done for is to assist in bladder relief, giving quick access to allow you to relieve yourself. Other additions are things like pads for your elbows or knees, zippers, loops for items like snorkels, and much more.

Can a Wet Suit be Altered or Repaired?

This is definitely a yes for all but the most catastrophic damage. These repairs or alterations will have a variable price based on the labor and materials needed to complete the work.

In general, if you are making the suit smaller you will see fewer costs associated due to the removal of material instead of the addition of more material. So when searching for a new one a size up is frequently less expensive to alter than choosing a smaller one to adjust up.

Alteration Prices

Labor costs for typical wetsuit modifications are determined by the time and resources utilized, however here are some sample labor expenditures for wetsuit repairs (not including materials)(1):

Shorten wrists and/or ankles. . . . . .$30.00
Lengthen wrists OR ankles. . . . . .$30.00 (plus material)
Lengthen wrists AND ankles. . . . . .$45.00 (plus material)
Add zippers (8″ to 24″). . . . . .$38 – $74.00(per pair)
Take in excess Torso width. . . . . .$45.00
Take in width of whole Jumpsuit. . . . . .$80.00
Let out Torso area width only. . . . . .$60.00(plus material)
Let out width of entire Jumpsuit. . . . . .$120.00 (plus material)
Let out whole 2-Piece suit. . . . . .$150.00 (plus material)
Replace cross-back semi-dry zipper. . . . . .$165.00 (whole panel)
Prices From Terrapin Wetsuits for Alterations

Repairing a Wetsuit

Some repairs to a wetsuit are made in the same way and with the same level of care, as many of the modifications we’ve previously mentioned.

A wetsuit may require repair for a variety of reasons. Some of these might be attributed to damage to the neoprene, while others may be referred to as simply “maintenance” needed over time and aging.

The damage itself can be caused by rocks, sand, water, branches from trees, or other means. Sand and other irritants can scratch the surface of neoprene. Nicks, cuts, holes, burns, and punctures are all forms of damage.

Repairs that do not indicate the wetsuit has been damaged as a result of any accident include seams needing to be stitched or glued, replacement zips and fasteners, and panels being replaced that exhibit indicator of hardening or cracking.

Wetsuit Stitching vs Clothing Stitching

The materials used to make wetsuits are one of the questions surrounding whether you can successfully modify them. Fabric and how they’re produced make alterations a breeze, as long as you pay attention while measuring, cutting, or stitching. In other words, fabrics such as cotton, nylon, denim, and wool to name a few are easy to modify.

Wetsuits are composed of neoprene, which is a flexible material that cannot be cut and sewn in the same way as a hem on the bottom of a pair of trousers or skirt can be adjusted. There are numerous distinctions between wetsuits, one of which is how the seams on a wetsuit are stitched.

There are three techniques used to apply seams in a wetsuit for optimum sealing. Flatlock, overlock, and blind stitching are all examples of this. Flatlock is utilized to seal one panel on top of the other, whereas overlocking involves rolling two pieces of neoprene together and stitching them together.

The most dependable is blind stitching, which not only uses stitching but also adheres with tape and glue. A sealant compound is added to some wetsuits for extra strength along with the seal between two pieces of neoprene.

Final Thoughts on Wetsuit Alterations

A wetsuit may require repair for a variety of reasons. Some of these might be attributed to damage to the neoprene, while others may be referred to as simply “maintenance” needed over time and aging.

The most dependable is blind stitching, which not only uses stitching but also adheres with tape and glue. A sealant compound is added to some wetsuits for extra strength along with the seal between two pieces of neoprene.

When searching for a new one or when you need alterations done on your current suit, there are many options available that can help you stay comfortable in cold water without compromising quality!

Make sure to weigh alterations against a new suit and make sure you are being wise with your money, good luck and enjoy your water diversions!

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