Is it Summer yet? Well, at least the holidays are almost done. Yet another year I didn’t get to spend at Mr. Kelly Slater’s Bodacious Wave Ranch. Boo.
So, back at this local wave ranch, I’ve been trying to get at least one more season out of my 4/3 Neoprene backzip fullsuit. I had modded it last year by cutting the legs off at the knee. In Florida, the north wind can feel a lot colder than the water temp, so a shorter leg can be more comfortable to surf in.
The latest mod I wanted to do is one I’ve heard many other surfers ask about: what to do with a bothersome high collar on a wetsuit. Mine seems a little tight, so I wanted to trim it down.
Like most basic Neoprene wetsuit mods, you don’t need a sewing machine, but the “big secret” is in the tools:
- Seam Ripper
- Rotary Cutter (preferably 45 mm diameter or less)
- Heavy duty hand sewing needle
- Polyester thread or fishing line
First, I removed that pesky key pocket behind the back zipper. I have other ways of hiding my keys, and dunking them in saltwater isn’t on the top of the list. It’s so scratchy anyway, and adds bulk I don’t need.
Next, I removed the Velcro tab on the collar with a seam ripper so it wouldn’t damage my rotary blade. I’m cutting away the Neoprene collar only, keeping the seal of the glued seam intact. I tried to make one continuous cut by opening up the suit as flat as it would go on the table.
If you choose to use regular scissors, be forewarned: your edges will come out VERY jagged due to the thickness of the Neoprene. This is why I stress the rotary blade over regular scissors.
I don’t like to use any type of edge guide when making these kind of highly curved cuts with the rotary tool. You can use a disappearing ink pen to make a cut line if your lining is light colored. For me, I winged it by eyeballing the 1/4″ distance from the yellow tape on the inside of the suit.
I used just a scant amount of Velcro from the tab I removed, and hand-sewed it back onto the flap so the collar would still close, just at a much lower profile. I may add a bit more Velcro later, depending on how it handles in the surf over time.
Easier to wrestle with and the neck’s a lot more comfortable, but it’s still sealed up well.
This is a good reminder that I need to put the sugary goodness away for the season and get back in the water. Yikes.