Suit Construction Methods

There are many different ways of making suits, we’ll tell you how the suits we sell are made and about some of the different methods and materials of suit construction.

Double glued and blind stitched (available in 2, 3, 5, and 7 mm.)

All of our custom suits are double glued and blind stitched. Using this method, the edges of the two pieces of material are placed edge to edge, adjoining each other. They are glued by hand on the inside and the outside of the seam. When the suit dries, each seam is hand sewn, first on one side, then the other. The stitches do not penetrate the opposite side of the material; they go in mostly laterally and emerge on the same side as the entry point. This leaves no ridge at all.

This method is much more labor intensive, all seams have glued applied to them. When the glue becomes tacky, the edged are joined together. Once dry and, they are sewn, first on one side, then again on the other side. Because of the additional time and labor involved, the cost of the suit is correspondingly higher, although it does make for a finer garment and a more precise fit. In fact, of all the construction methods possible on wetsuits, this is the best method for a better fitting and most durable suit.

Methods Other Than Those We Use

Flatlock sewn suit (2 mm and 3 mm nylon two side.)

Flatlock suits are sewn only. The edges of two pieces are placed adjoining each other. An industrial sewing machine sews through both pieces creating a figure eight looking flat stitch on the inside and outside of the suit.  Only thinner suits, 2 and 3 mm, can be constructed using this method. The advantage of this method is it is less labor intensive than many other methods. The suit goes from the cutting table directly to the sewing machine. The disadvantage is the seam leaks and tears easily. If you were to hold up the flatlock seam to the light you will see the light through the seam. The seams are also difficult to repair.

Overlock sewn suit (2 mm and 3 mm nylon two side.)

Overlock sewn suits are constructed in the same manner as most of the clothes we wear. The edges of two pieces are placed parallel to and adjoining each other, An industrial sewing machine sews through one piece and the next one, and repeats the process for each stitch in the suit. This creates a ridge, usually left on the inside, where the two pieces are joined together. This ridge is why only thinner suits, 2 and 3 mm, can be constructed using this method. A 5 or 7 mm suit would have a 10 or 14 mm ridge respectively, which would be extremely irritating and uncomfortable, even if the sewing machine could penetrate that much material. It would probably leave a welt on your body for the length of the seam after each dive. Some people are sensitive to the ridge left by 2 and 3 mm suits.

The advantage of this method is that it does allow for more inexpensive suits since it is less labor intensive than many other methods. The suit goes from the cutting table directly to the sewing machine.

Seam tape

In this method the edges of the two pieces of material are placed edge to edge, adjoining each other, and a fabric tape is placed over the length of the seam. A special sewing machine sews rows of stitches through the tape and the underlying neoprene blend material. Because of the unique properties of this method, repairs are not feasible without this machine. The advantage to this method is the ability to construct thicker suits without gluing the seams. The manufacturing costs are generally lower than with other methods.

Suit Materials

We start with nitrogen-composed neoprene. Read all about it on our page Wetwear NCN. After that, you’ll want to choose a style and fabric. The fabric is the outer covering, which is laminated to the neoprene. Fabric does not affect their thermal qualities although it may be an important visual consideration for underwater photography models.

Nylon 1, or unlined nylon, has the bare neoprene, or rubber, on one side. If the rubber is on the inside, the suit is much more difficult to get on and off because it doesn’t slide against the skin easily. It is typically used for topside water sports with the rubber on the outside to diminish cooling by evaporation. It is also used in suits for free divers to reduce drag in the water. We don’t offer it for scuba divers, other than on seals, except by special order; although it is used in some suits we sell for other water activities. Nylon 1 is also available with a coating on the rubber side of the material. This purpose of the coating is to allow the rubber to slide against the skin. There are some disadvantages to this type of material. Once the material get wet the suit becomes very difficult to put on and take off. Also, should the coating delaminate a soapy solution or powder must be use to get into the suit.

Nylon 2 or nylon two side, so called because it has nylon bonded over the neoprene on the inside as well as the outside, is our most popular offering. Nylon two is the most commonly used covering for wetsuits.

Zippers

YKK plastic zippers are used exclusively in all of the suits we sell. They are durable, can’t corrode, and are the industry standard.

Thread

American Efird or Eddington thread is used in all of our wetsuits and neoprene products.

Colors

Unlike the early days of diving when color choices were severely limited, today suits are available in a wide variety of colors and patterns (see our Design Your Suit section). You can get anything from black to pink. Although we can and will make your suit from any color on our palette, we recommend black as the basic color, and one of the darker colors for the accents. There are two very good reasons why. Black shows less dirt and encounters with the environment than other colors. Also, the lighter colors tend to fade at a much faster rate. You may look pretty in pink, but you won’t look like you have a new suit for long. Pink, lime green, yellow and other light colors fade at a rapid rate, even just under household lights. This is true regardless of the fabric.

We sell suits in all colors although we will warn you first of their brightness life expectancy. We do not warranty suits against fading or the effect on the suits due to fading. Fading causes the fabric to become weak. The thread reinforcing the seams will begin to tear through the fabric causing the seam to split open. Severe fading will cause the fabric to delaminate from the neoprene.

Bright colors may look great, but if you want your suits to last black is the best. If you must have bright colors give us a call. We can give you some suggestion on incorporating bright colors without jeopardizing the integrity of your suit