Anyone with ankle or knee problems knows that wetsuit season blows. I’m so happy to be almost done with wetsuit season here in Florida (although an early, warm Spring may spell more problems later).
Since I’ve been nursing my torn-up ankle throughout this season, I’ll have to admit I’ve passed up some good surf days just because I didn’t want to put on a full wetsuit and torque my ankle more getting into and out of one.
Full body wetsuits NEVER fit me correctly. I’m short, so the legs are always too long, and the knee forms and pads in the suit never line up with my actual knees anyway. The material pools around my ankles, and I always have gapping and extra thick neoprene in the back of my knees, causing awkward pop-ups, and missed waves.
Well, at least that sounds like a good excuse, ya know.
This was a project I should have done a month ago. I made sure the suit was rinsed and completely dry before bringing it to the table to cut.*
*IF I was going to put this under my machine to sew, I would HAVE to wash the neoprene suit extremely well first. No nasty ocean particulate in the expensive mechanisms of my sewing machine, thanks. This is a no-sew project, so well rinsed and dry is sufficient.
Since I want to make sure this cut is lined up where I want it, I put the suit on. Completely, all the way- I need to see where everything falls.
I have a chalk pencil (regular chalk works just fine) to mark where I’d like the cutoff to be. I’m not a big fan of the popular “cheeky” shorter style, I like the old type of shorty Spring Suits. This one just happens to be 4/3 mm. Hey, my core gets cold, BUT, the cold is good for the knee and ankle joints when you get to be an old lady surfer like me.
Note that the openings of most wrists and ankles on wetsuits aren’t hemmed. Neoprene foam won’t fray out, so you don’t even need to overlock the edge or seal it. A straight cut is nice however.
The less shaping in the wetsuit leg, the better cut you’ll get. On women’s suits, there’s usually a lot more seams to create curves in the suit that the men don’t need. Also, the higher on the leg you cut, the more you need to account for the curve in the hip and thigh, which can become daunting. For this project, I’m going right above the knee about 3/4″, at a slight angle, to account for the thigh curve. I helped establish the angle with my chalk mark while the suit was on my body, so I would have a realistic idea.
Weight the heck out of your neoprene and secure it from shifting before you cut. I use heavy books and clips, with a long steel straight edge (yard stick). Always makes a good cut with the rotary cutter.
To ensure I have the angle and measurements correct on the other side, I’ll use the first cut piece, line it up with my previous chalk mark I made, and make another chalk line of the average of the two. Mine came out pretty much on the money, so I made my other cut after clamping everything down again.
Done! Writing this post took longer than doing the project, honestly.
No excuses, this will be much easier to get on and off now without wrenching my ankle.
Now if my feelings get hurt, there’s always this project….