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Sewing wetsuits

BevW | Posted in General Sewing Info on

I am interested in sewing the kwik sew pattern for a wet suit out of neoprene. Are there any “tricks” to sewing on neoprene? Should I use a special thread? Different seams? Any advice would be appreciated.

 

Thanks

Replies

  1. Elisabeth | | #1

    I have a feeling not too many of us here have sewn a wetsuit. Although we ought to know something about sewing neoprene as one of the big designers shown in Vogue made a neoprene coat this fall...

    I tried putting sewing neoprene into google and got several possibly useful hits with answers to your questions so try that. Also, you could contact Kwik Sew and ask them. They have support services.

    My advice is - a good sewing machine will make it work. A not very sturdy machine won't be up to the task and you might get really frustrated.

  2. LindaG | | #2

    Just a construction note:  I've made the Kwik-Sew wetsuit-style swimsuit out of lycra.  The only tricky part was getting that front full length zipper to go in evenly on both sides.  I haven't worked with neoprene so can't advise on that, but do give that zipper some extra attention -- maybe basting tape or glue basting to hold it in place in addition to pins?

  3. SewTruTerry | | #3

    You might also want to try to google some custom wetsuit makers and find one that is not in your area and ask them for some tips.  I don't know if you are trying to start a business or are just trying to cut some cost but I would tell them that you are trying to save some money either way so they may give up some secrets.

  4. joanna | | #4

    For what it's worth, I looked up neoprene in a book I have - "Sewing Outdoor Gear: Easy Techniques for Outerwear That Works". They say that neoprene "can be a real challenge" for a home sewer. They suggest using

    Aqua Fleece or Exoskin instead.

    1. BevW | | #5

      Thanks for the advice. I have (or rather,my brother) has already bought the neoprene, so I will be giving it a try. I may try to find the book you were mentioning and see if it has any helpful advice.

      Bev

      1. joanna | | #6

        Your welcome. The book is available frokm Taunton Press. You also may find it in a local fabric store.

        Joanna

        Edited 10/31/2004 1:24 pm ET by joanna

      2. FitnessNut | | #7

        It is an excellent book that everyone who sews outdoor gear should have available for reference, IMNSHO.

        Good luck with the neoprene. I imagine it will be a challenge to sew with.

  5. CarolFresia | | #8

    I have a friend who wanted to make a neoprene wetsuit, and consulted her Pfaff dealer. The dealer told her he would never service her machine again if she sewed neoprene with it! In his opinion, that was asking to ruin a good machine. Now, this is an anecdote--I've never sewn neoprene myself, but I would be careful and do some testing first to see if your machine is up to the challenge.

    Carol

    1. BevW | | #9

      Thanks-I plan to. I do have an old machine, so hopefully it will be a workhorse.

      1. cblask | | #10

        Hi Bev!  I just saw your note re: sewing neoprene.  I have used it as cuffs on rainjackets and on rainpants.  I have also repaired sprayskirts (for kayaks) made of neoprene.  The difficulty you might have in getting your machine to feed the fabric through evenly.  Sometimes, it won't feed at all.  I solved this by placing tissue papper under the bottom layer, ripping it off when finished.  I hope this helps

        cblask

        1. BevW | | #11

          Hi Christine,

          Thanks for the suggestion. Do you have a fancy machine or industrial machine to sew with. Someone else said that it may be too hard on the average machine.

          BevW

          1. cblask | | #13

            Hi Bev

            I have both an industrial machine and a portable, heavy duty white.  I have used both with good results.  The teflon sheet sounds like a good idea too, although I am not sure how you would use it under the needle.  With the tissue paper, you stitch through it then tear it away.  I read in one of my sewing magazines recently, about someone using a tear away stabilizer instead of tissue.  The person claimed the stitches weren't pulled out or disturbed as much as with tissue.  May be something to try!

            Christine

          2. SewTruTerry | | #14

            Bev I had a neighbor that wanted me to hem up the sleeves of his new leather coat and I used tear away stabilizer and boy did the stitches distort.  Of course what really helped it look good was that I tore the top or outer portion of the sleeve paper away first then did the bobbin area next that way the distorted stitches were inside and was hidden by the lining.

        2. CarolFresia | | #12

          Christine,

          I just ran across a nifty product when I was in Houston recently at the International Quilt Market. It's called the Free-Motion Slider, and consists of a sheet of very sturdy Teflon that you tape to the bed of the sewing machine. It's meant to facilitate free-motion quilting, but I bet it would work to help neoprene slide around, too. It's sold through various online quilters' resources--search Free-motion slider.

          Carol

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