Author Topic: Making your own wetsuit  (Read 3931 times)

Online mrodoc

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Making your own wetsuit
« on: May 16, 2020, 10:35:04 am »
Many years ago I purchased for a song a roll of smooth 5mm neoprene. It is still in excellent nick and I thought during lockdown I could make a spare suit. However a lengthy  online search yielded no patterns and adverts for custom made suits. Anybody made their own in recent years. I even have the yellow tape you used to run up the seams (used to see it regularly underground ;))

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Making your own wetsuit
« on: May 16, 2020, 10:35:04 am »
Warmbac

Offline Pitlamp

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Re: Making your own wetsuit
« Reply #1 on: May 16, 2020, 11:34:09 am »
I'll PM you with a possible suggestion.

Offline T pot 2

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Re: Making your own wetsuit
« Reply #2 on: May 16, 2020, 08:50:27 pm »
When you use your home made wetsuit always take a tin of glue with you to the cave  in which you wish to wear it in.
In the 70s when we made our own we often had to glue them together after putting them on before a trip commenced.
Happy days, thank God for flurries and vortex.

Offline Roger W

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Re: Making your own wetsuit
« Reply #3 on: May 16, 2020, 08:55:40 pm »
 A silly question, but is your yellow tape still useable after all this time?
"That, of course, is the dangerous part about caves:  you don't know how far they go back, sometimes... or what is waiting for you inside."   JRR Tolkein: "The Hobbit"

Offline pwhole

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Re: Making your own wetsuit
« Reply #4 on: May 17, 2020, 12:31:29 am »
When you use your home made wetsuit always take a tin of glue with you to the cave  in which you wish to wear it in.
In the 70s when we made our own we often had to glue them together after putting them on before a trip commenced.
Happy days, thank God for flurries and vortex.

No wonder the carbide flames were so large. And I guess if you missed the pub you could always finish the tin off  :blink:

Offline T pot 2

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Re: Making your own wetsuit
« Reply #5 on: May 17, 2020, 12:59:42 pm »
I remember doing the giants oxlow in a home made two piece suit needless to say it didn't do another trip afterwards. The one piece double lined with sewn seams purchased made to measure from Maggie Aldred was the bees knees.
That wetsuit lasted five years.

Offline Subpopulus Hibernia

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Re: Making your own wetsuit
« Reply #6 on: May 17, 2020, 04:29:38 pm »
My father made his own wetsuit from a mail-order kit back in the 70s. I remember seeing the pattern/instructions that came with the suit with some old caving literature in the attic about 10 years back. Might still be there, but I've no way of getting at it till the end of July...
Born Salzburg 1691. B.Phil. University of 's-Hertogenbosch 1718. Decorated for bravery during the Third Portuguese War. Mayor of Milton Keynes, Jun 1981 - Jul 1981. Currently editing fourth edition of 'The writings of St. Theodoric of Freiburg'.

Offline Pitlamp

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Re: Making your own wetsuit
« Reply #7 on: May 17, 2020, 08:45:40 pm »
My father made his own wetsuit from a mail-order kit back in the 70s. I remember seeing the pattern/instructions that came with the suit with some old caving literature in the attic about 10 years back. Might still be there, but I've no way of getting at it till the end of July...

Would that be "Aquaquipment" in St. Albans, Herts?
The used to advertise on the back of Descent.

Offline Mark Wright

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Re: Making your own wetsuit
« Reply #8 on: May 17, 2020, 09:43:55 pm »
My first wetsuit was a kit from Aquaquipment in 1980.

Mark

Online mrodoc

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Re: Making your own wetsuit
« Reply #9 on: May 17, 2020, 11:12:18 pm »
My first wetsuit for diving I got when I was fifteen. It was second hand and expensive at 10/-  (50p). That was the classic yellow tape job. It was better than a woolly jumper and bathers though.

Offline Subpopulus Hibernia

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Re: Making your own wetsuit
« Reply #10 on: May 17, 2020, 11:19:58 pm »
Had a chat with the father over the phone just now and he told me that the wetsuit kit came with all the pieces pre-cut. You got given a list of measurements to take, which you sent off, and then the wetsuit company did all the cutting. So you just had to do the assembly. So the old instructions in the attic are probably just that, assembly instructions, and not a pattern.

He doesn't remember the company, but it was somewhere in England, and in about 78/79, so most likely Aquaquipment.

I googled Aquaquipment, and got the following thread - Pitlamp, did you ever get around to making that suit?

https://ukcaving.com/board/index.php?topic=4397.0

In that thread there's a link to a pattern website, which gives the below 'wetsuit' pattern.

https://sewing.patternreview.com/Patterns/5198
Born Salzburg 1691. B.Phil. University of 's-Hertogenbosch 1718. Decorated for bravery during the Third Portuguese War. Mayor of Milton Keynes, Jun 1981 - Jul 1981. Currently editing fourth edition of 'The writings of St. Theodoric of Freiburg'.

Offline Subpopulus Hibernia

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Re: Making your own wetsuit
« Reply #11 on: May 17, 2020, 11:22:36 pm »
Also there's this interesting article about early home-built wetsuits on the Red Rose's website

http://www.rrcpc.org.uk/newsletters/NL_V49_N4_A15.htm
Born Salzburg 1691. B.Phil. University of 's-Hertogenbosch 1718. Decorated for bravery during the Third Portuguese War. Mayor of Milton Keynes, Jun 1981 - Jul 1981. Currently editing fourth edition of 'The writings of St. Theodoric of Freiburg'.

Online mikem

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Re: Making your own wetsuit
« Reply #12 on: May 18, 2020, 09:05:53 am »
They are much cheaper to buy nowadays  ;)

Offline Pitlamp

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Re: Making your own wetsuit
« Reply #13 on: May 18, 2020, 09:29:33 am »

I googled Aquaquipment, and got the following thread - Pitlamp, did you ever get around to making that suit?


No - but I did rummage through the loft as mentioned in that topic and found various old wetsuits which fit me in one area but not in others. So I cut some of them up and stuck the parts that fitted back together, ending up with a "Frankenwetsuit" which did the job until I destroyed in on a couple of gnarly trips.

Incidentally, following advice in a recent topic, I ordered one of the Decathlon stretchy wetsuits which arrived yesterday. I'm about to try it on in a few minutes in fact. Maybe it'll turn me into a handsome, young, bleached-hair surfer dude. No? Oh well, just a thought.  :lol:

Online mrodoc

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Re: Making your own wetsuit
« Reply #14 on: May 18, 2020, 11:01:47 am »
I suppose I ought to contribute to the thread with a vintage wetsuit photo! Moderately vintage anyway.  Took it on 5th August 1978 in Swildons 4.

Online PeteHall

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Re: Making your own wetsuit
« Reply #15 on: May 18, 2020, 11:19:47 am »
Here is a not-so-vintage photo of a vintage wetsuit. Stoke Lane, 2019.

I was given the wetsuit by a friend; he made it in the mid-seventies and hadn't used it for a few decades, so passed it on. I lent it to my colleague Rob, for his first ever caving trip. It kept him warm and comfortable for the first part of the trip until the arse ripped shortly before we returned through the sump  :lol:

I got a lot of grief from the girls on reception for not getting any pictures after the wetsuit failed!  ;D

Offline pwhole

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Re: Making your own wetsuit
« Reply #16 on: May 18, 2020, 12:09:34 pm »
I'm a bit concerned for Pitlamp - it's been well over two hours now. Are you stuck? Or just frantically trying to dye the new blond highlights out ;)

Offline Pitlamp

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Re: Making your own wetsuit
« Reply #17 on: May 19, 2020, 05:26:33 pm »
I'm a bit concerned for Pitlamp - it's been well over two hours now. Are you stuck? Or just frantically trying to dye the new blond highlights out ;)

 :lol:

Looks like cool dude surfing is off the agenda for a while I'm afraid. I decided the size "LT" suit which arrived probably wan't quite big enough. Others who know me (and know I have what's called a "light frame") might like to bear your original advice in mind on sizing. That Decathlon offering is a beautifully made suit. It's just been posted back this aft and, once the refund's been made, I'm planning to order the same or a different suit of theirs in the next size up.

I'm not altogether convinced by the zip entry system they use though; I can foresee it being a problem when the going gets hot and sweaty (prussiking big pitches with a heavy load dangling springs to mind.) It also makes dressing a lengthy process as it needs thought and care. Not ideal for dressing / undressing at the coldest place in the universe (Leck Fell in a howling wet gale). But they do other designs and I intend to pursue this until I get sorted.

Offline pwhole

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Re: Making your own wetsuit
« Reply #18 on: May 19, 2020, 07:40:40 pm »
Yep, that's exactly what I did - ordered a Large and ended up with an Extra Large, though it's the first garment in that size I've ever bought. Reassuringly I've since bought a shirt and some trousers in Large and they fit perfectly, so I'm confident I'm not getting bigger. But I just couldn't move comfortably, whereas the next size up felt like I was wearing Lycra (kind of). Agreed, the neck fastening is a bit tricky and the first (only) time I wore it in anger I had ask Cave_Troll  to help me fasten it. I trusted him as he's a diver. But hopefully it'll get easier as it gets stretchier. It seemed to me it would make more sense to have the zip fastener already on at the bottom end, and then you just pull it closed, rather than engaging the fastener on the open end. I guess this way the tab is out of the way.

Maybe I'll have to put it on again just to feel like it wasn't a total waste of money   ;D

Offline Pitlamp

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Re: Making your own wetsuit
« Reply #19 on: May 19, 2020, 08:10:47 pm »
 :o  The thought of you wearing lycra . . .    :lol:   :clap2:

Having seen the zip design I think it'll get some strain.. I'd advise a regular light application of silicone spray. There is a proprietary product called "Zip Slip" which is excellent (I use it all the time for drysuit zips) but silicone spray will be fine for your wetsuit. It's worth doing regularly as your zip will always be easy to do up and it'll last aeons longer.

Offline pwhole

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Re: Making your own wetsuit
« Reply #20 on: May 19, 2020, 08:48:37 pm »
Thanks for the tip - I've been needing something like that for ages for lots of things (like my fishing rod holdall), and it's not expensive, so sod it - I'll order some.

Offline Pitlamp

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Re: Making your own wetsuit
« Reply #21 on: June 13, 2020, 12:43:03 pm »
Latest in this saga - I re-ordered a wetsuit identical to pwhole's from Decathlon, this time in size XL. It fits like a glove - am really pleased with it.

But . . . . am I missing a trick regarding fastening the zip across the chest? I locate the open side of the zip into the zipper but I'm really struggling then to close the zip. Anyone else found this difficult / fiddly? Or is there a knack to it? Any advice gratefully received! 

Offline pwhole

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Re: Making your own wetsuit
« Reply #22 on: June 13, 2020, 01:53:36 pm »
Amazing - it seems XL is the 'average' size to go for then! I'm sure you're taller than me though, but if it works that's good news. I also found that zip part the most difficult to overcome, and after 'practising' at home I just about got the hang of it. But on my first trip out I lost the plot and had to get Tim to zip it up for me - oh, the shame. To be honest the most difficult bit is taking it off again after you've got the top part off and then finding your arms are pinned to your sides and you can't get them out! I'm now wishing I'd taken up those gymnastics classes all those years ago.

I did wonder whether having the fastener 'on' permanently at the inner end and zipping it closed would be a better design, but the trouble is then I suspect the fastener would be endlessly getting snagged on stuff, or maybe just gets pressed into bone too much. But it's intended for diving, not caving, so impacts should be minimal anyway.

Offline Pitlamp

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Re: Making your own wetsuit
« Reply #23 on: June 13, 2020, 05:44:32 pm »
I've not really had a problem getting in and out of the suit - just doing up the zip. I'm sure I'm missing something here . . .  For someone used to using a drysuit with a waterproof back-mounted zip (easy when you know how) I'm finding this chest zip particularly fiddly. Can't imagine it being any easier in a howling icy gale with frozen fingers on some Dales fellside.

Offline braveduck

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Re: Making your own wetsuit
« Reply #24 on: June 13, 2020, 11:05:19 pm »
I used to rub a candle on my wet suit zip ,the wax would get into all the nooks and crannies and keep it
running smooth for ages .
 

 

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