How to cut and shorten a wetsuit?


Got a wetsuit? And you would like to amend its length a bit? Then you are in the right location.

You can cut a wetsuit with sharp scissors to shorten it. Neoprene is a material that sticks together and doesn’t fray. Many wetsuits have cloth taped over the seams. You can add some cement over the seams after cutting if that’s not your case to prevent the seams from unraveling.

Let’s see in detail how to shorten your wetsuit and how to make sure not to damage it.

Reasons to shorten a wetsuit

The most common reasons to shorten a wetsuit are:

  • having the arms or legs of the wetsuit too long (suit not fitting perfectly well)
  • wanting to fit easily your sport watch while wearing the wetsuit
  • make the removal of the wetsuit faster (very important for triathletes)
Wetsuits folded over

What to consider before shortening a wetsuit

  • Shortening a wetsuit is possible as long as you are tight enough near your wrists and ankles. The wetsuit once cut needs to be tight against your skin at the opening to do its job. If not, water will get through between your skin and the neoprene, and the sleeve (especially) might even roll up while swimming.
  • If you have lost weight and your wetsuit is now too long, just be careful that it is not too loose to be altered.
  • If you are considering altering your wetsuit to do triathlon transitions faster, especially at the ankles. Keep in mind that removing a wetsuit is a lot easier when wet than when dry. So practice it first in wet conditions to be sure you need the alteration.
  • Cutting your wetsuit will void its warranty.

Cutting a wetsuit to shorten it

Shortening a wetsuit is not difficult. If you are lucky, you might even own a wetsuit which allows the possibility to be shortened thanks to a special feature.

General advices

  • To do the trim, you need a marker pen and a pair of sharp scissors (avoid razors and knives).
Material required to do the trim: wetsuit, marker or Bic pen & sharp scissors
  • Don’t hesitate to cut incrementally if you are not sure about the exact length. It is easy to trim but very complicated to add material. So don’t cut too much! Do it step by step with small adjustments. You can even try it out for a swim before reaching the final length if you are unsure.
  • If you are a triathlete: consider cutting the legs at an angle to give a bigger opening to slide your feet out more easily.

Your wetsuit has a piece of cloth tape over the seam inside the legs and arms.

If you look inside the legs or inside the arms and you see a piece of cloth tape over the seam, then you are lucky. Your wetsuit has been designed to ease shortening. It is completely safe to trim the legs and the arms in this case as long as you remain within the length of the cloth tape.

Example of wetsuit reinforcement

Most wetsuits will have this piece of cloth tape over the seam. Let’s see how to shorten it:

Shortening steps

  1. Put your wetsuit on
  2. Fold over the wetsuit where you want to cut it
  3. Mark the line of fold with the marker pen
  4. Remove the wetsuit
  5. Fold it over entirely
  6. Take the scissors and cut at the location of the pen marking

 

Your wetsuit has not been predesigned to be shortened

If your wetsuit doesn’t have inside the arms or the legs a piece of cloth tape over the seam, it is still possible to shorten it. Don’t worry. You will just need to be a bit more careful to protect the seams after cutting.

You will find below two options to protect the seams when shortening your wetsuit. Both methods work very well, so just do the one that is easiest for you.

The first method requires a bit of fabric (approximately 0.5in x 2in) and some neoprene glue.
For the second method, you just need to buy some ‘seam grip‘.

Shortening steps (option 1 with neoprene glue)

  1. Fold the wetsuit over.
  2. Glue a piece of cloth (about 2 inches long) with neoprene glue over the seams of your wetsuit legs/arms
  3. Let it dry for 24h
  4. Put your wetsuit on
  5. Fold over the wetsuit where you want to cut it
  6. Mark the line of fold with the marker pen
  7. Remove the wetsuit
  8. Fold it over entirely
  9. Take the scissors and cut at the location of the pen marking

Shortening steps (option 2 with seam grip)

  1. Put your wetsuit on
  2. Fold over the wetsuit where you want to cut it
  3. Mark the line of fold with the marker pen
  4. Remove the wetsuit
  5. Fold it over entirely
  6. Take the scissors and cut at the location of the pen marking
  7. Take some ‘seam grip’ cement and apply it at the end of the seam (so the stitching does not unravel)

Getting a wetsuit repaired professionally

If you are a bit worried about making yourself modifications to your wetsuit, the best solution is to have it done by a professional. Just search in Google for ‘wetsuit alterations’ combined with the name of your city to see your local options for wetsuit repairs.

Shortening ankles and/or arms generally don’t cost much. If you can find a place locally where you don’t have to mail your wetsuit, you will end up paying around $30-$40 for the alteration.

If you cannot find a place locally, you will find below a list of 3 companies you can rely on and for which you can just send your wetsuit to have the repair made:

The good thing about these companies is that they can help you with many more requests: from repairing damaged areas to your wetsuit, lengthening your wetsuit, fitting better some areas if too loose etc.

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