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November 29, 2020 6 min read

Wetsuits keep your body warm when you are under the water. Therefore, the kind of seam present on the wetsuit is very important. Wetsuit seams determine how comfortable and watertight the wetsuit is for you. If you don't get it right, you can feel the chill in the water.

 

The wetsuit seams are sealed and reinforced in a variety of methods. The seams work as an insulator and help to keep the body warm. Wetsuit construction isn't only about thread and needle. There are more things involved in it. To help you properly understand the technical aspects of wetsuit construction, this article explains the different methods used.

 

What Are Wetsuit Seams?

For a wetsuit to be well-fitted and generate enough warmth, it has to be properly stitched. It is achieved by using tailored panels. The panels are stitched along seams to keep them together in one piece. Therefore, stitching is crucial in wetsuit construction. Although good stitching makes sure that the suit is effective and comfortable, seams can cause problems for a few reasons.

 

Chafing - The more seams you have on the wetsuit, it means an increased chance of rubbing against the skin, or chafing. That makes you feel uncomfortable.

 

Low flexibility - Apart from the zip, the wetsuit seams constitute the least flexible space on the wetsuit. Hence, you won't find seams running under your arms or alongside your shoulders.

 

Chances of leakage - The areas where the panels are put together mean the wetsuit seams represent the other common places where there could be leakage.

 

All the aforementioned issues are reduced drastically when you possess a high-quality wetsuit. For that, you need to know about the wetsuit construction and the materials used.

 

Wetsuit Construction

Stitching is one of the important aspects of the construction of a wetsuit. The benefits of a good stitch are many. A good wetsuit stitching makes the suit more warm, durable, and comfortable. Whereas low-grade stitching, allow water to enter the suit chafe your delicate skin and can even unravel.

 

Wetsuit Stitching

 

In general, there are three kinds of wetsuit stitching you can find in wetsuits. As you know, stitching on the suit means to make holes in the neoprene to allow the thread to pass through it. Also, these holes could be responsible for allowing the water to pass through the waterproof neoprene. Therefore, the type of wetsuit stitching is quite important when you are considering the warmth of the wetsuit.

 

You can find different types of wetsuit stitching on different types of products. And, you can find variations depending on the pricing of the wetsuit as well. Also, you can find a little bit of variation in a winter steamer and summer suit. Here are the different methods used for stitching by wetsuit manufacturing companies.

 

Overlock stitching - This type of stitching is considered the least effective and cheapest method of wetsuit stitching. This type isn't used on expensive wetsuits. Rather, it is found on cheaper or summer wetsuits. Both the edges of neoprene are rolled and stitched together. Overlock stitching isn't flexible enough.

 

Also, it leaves a ridge inside the wetsuit. As such, the suit becomes uncomfortable to wear and allows water to penetrate through the seams. This method of wetsuit stitching is generally done on neoprene with a thickness of up to 3mm. hence, it is suitable for hot summer conditions. Overlock stitching is used by a handful of manufacturers these days and isn't applied to high-end products.

 

 

Flatlock stitching - You can find flatlock stitching on most of the entry-level variant of wetsuits. It is a common way of stitching. The process involves laying one neoprene layer over another and stitching through them. Because of that, the seam becomes strong and flexible. However, there is a drawback associated with this type of wetsuit stitching.

 

As the stitch penetrates through the neoprene, it creates numerous needle holes. These holes can take in water. Flatlock stitching is perfect for wetsuits with a minimum of 3mm thickness. For this reason, flatlock stitched wetsuits are preferred more to be used in warm water. Furthermore, all flatlock stitched wetsuits are glued so that the seams are watertight. But due to the procedure of stitching, the seams are less durable and watertight.

 

Blind stitching - This type of stitching is done by placing the edges of the neoprene panels and glued them together. Next, they are stitched through the material to make sure they are watertight. As such, the blind stitched wetsuits are flexible, durable, and keeps water out. You can find the blind stitching seam on the entry and a mid-level variant of wetsuits.

 

Wetsuits built with the blind stitched method is perfect for cold water divers. Because the stitching method doesn't penetrate both sides of the panels, it creates a watertight seam. Apart from the other two methods aforementioned, the blind stitched process is the most comfortable one and preferred by divers living in some of the coldest places.

 

Different Types of Sealing Seams

So, it is evident that water seepage can decrease the effectiveness of your wetsuit. However, there are some ways through which you can avoid that. Keep in mind that seams are crucial for wetsuits. They determine the flexibility, water tightness, and strength of the suit.

 

So, it quite important that you pick the right kind of suit. To ensure more waterproofing abilities, you can find wetsuits with taped or sealed seams. Here are the different types of sealing seams.

 

Glued seams - In this type of seam, the panels are glued before they are blind stitched. That way, it makes the seam stronger and more waterproof. The stitch passes through a portion of the neoprene. Some companies use double or triple gluing procedures. As a result, the seams are pretty much durable.

 

Fluid seams - If there is any type of strong seam seal, the fluid seal stands out from the rest. A fluid seam is a kind of liquid rubber that can seal the panels before applying blind stitching. The liquid rubber could be applied externally, internally, or both.

 

One of the greatest benefits of using the liquid seal over glued seams is that the former one is the best watertight seams you can find. Fluid seams are found in some variations. Some of them are more flexible, lighter, and thinner than others.

 

Taped seams - It is another type of sealing that is applied on the exterior or interior of seams. Taped seams are built in a way to provide extra comfort and durability. They are super stretchy too. Taping comes in different forms and is mostly found on the interior part of the wetsuits.

 

You can find some wetsuits where the interior is critically taped, partially taped, or fully taped. Each of the variants has its advantages and disadvantages. High-end taped seams tend to be water resistant and more flexible than the low-quality taped seams.

 

Spot taping - This kind of taping is used to prevent any kind of tears at different stress points or intersections of the wetsuit. When spot taping is applied, it strengthens the seams in the wetsuit. In general, spot taping is done in association with blind stitched and glued seams. This way, it creates a seam that delivers robust performance. In short, it is almost indestructible.

 

Welded seams - If you are looking for a wetsuit without stitches, a welded seam is the way to go. Extremely durable, the welded seams provide lots of stretch in all directions. While looking for wetsuits with welded seams, you may come across different manufacturers.

 

The only feature that distinguishes it from the others is that welded seams make use of a silicon-type seal to join the panels together. In welded seams, you won't find holes in the neoprene. And, because of that water can't seep in. This keeps you dry and warm. This kind of sealing is done on expensive wetsuits.

 

How to Choose the Right Seams?

Apart from the different kinds of seams aforementioned, you can find certain wetsuits where there could be combinations of some seams in different parts of the wetsuit. You can see something like that in full suits. For example, you may find a wetsuit that has glued and blind stitched in the arms and fluid sealed in other parts of the body including the legs.

 

Because of the construction, it makes a durable suit with lots of flexibility where it needs the most, which is the arms. Also, you may find some suits where a fluid seal is on the exterior whereas an interior tape on the inside. Although this type of wetsuit has a very strong and durable seam, it adds a significant amount of weight to the suit.

 

As such, the flexibility part gets compromised. Always keep in mind that the best wetsuit has all the important seams in the right place. This way, it gives you the perfect balance of warmth, weight, and flexibility.

 

Conclusion

So, that was all about wetsuit stitching and wetsuit seams. Remember that the type of seam on the wetsuit is very important. It helps to determine your comfort level. So, if you don't opt for the right one, you can have an unpleasant time in the water.

 

Also of Interest: 

 

 

Liz H.
Liz H.


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