How are pattern sizes determined?
What are wetsuit patterns?
Wetsuit patterns are templates used to cut out each individual wetsuit panel from a flat piece of neoprene sheet. These panels are then glued and stitched together to form a 3d shaped wetsuit. A body has complex curves, and neoprene is flat. Therefore the right patterns make for a good fitting wetsuit without the material bulking op or overstretching in certain areas. Wetsuit patterns are usually designed in a 2d or 3d cad program first before they are cut out into paper patterns. Paper patterns are used during the wetsuit development process. They are used to check the panel shapes before they are transferred onto a neoprene sheet. Thereafter it is cut out and assembled to make a wetsuit sample. How are pattern sizes determined? The size of the patterns influences the wetsuit size, so the bigger the wetsuit, the bigger the pattern sizes become.
Panel shapes are determined by the panel layout of a wetsuit. The panel layout is the result of the seam placement on a wetsuit which creates the function and wetsuit design. The best panel layout has seam placements in strategic places to avoid rash to the skin and to avoid restrictions in stretch where you need it most. This results in the best performance and comfort. Another effect on panel layout is the use of different neoprene thicknesses to accommodate warmth and flexibility in key areas in the wetsuit. The chest and back are mostly thicker than arm panels. This means there needs to be a seam between the chest and arms, which has an effect on the panel layout. Wetsuit styling has a big influence on panel layout as well. However a good wetsuit cares about function first, before styling, to make the best wetsuit that looks cool too.
Pattern size vs body size
How are pattern sizes determined? A wetsuit should fit snug around your body. Therefore the wetsuit is stretched slightly to create a sealed fit. A wetsuit should not fit loose around your body or fit too tight. The right fit is really important to ensure good wetsuit performance. This means, the wetsuit patterns should actually be slightly smaller than your body size, this allows for the wetsuit to stretch slightly when you put it on. The percentage of neoprene stretch that gets you the perfect fit is a balancing act that is part of the wetsuit development program.
Wetsuit brands have done the needed calculations, trial and error and a lot of fit testing before they bring a product to the market. So you usually don’t have to worry about the stretch percentage between the panels and your body size to find the perfect fit. A size finder or size chart will calculate your height, weight, chest and waist sizes to determine the best wetsuit size to fit your body type.
Be aware of the difference in standard sizes such as medium, large and extra-large compared to extra tall sizes such as Medium tall (MT), Large tall (LT). Extra-wide or short sizes are available too. For example, Medium short (MS) or Large short (LS). These tall or short sizes can accommodate skinny and taller or wider and shorter body types compared to the standard sizes. Don’t buy a medium because you always wear medium T-shirts. Take the time to determine your perfect wetsuit size by filling in the online Size Finder. Be aware that all brands have a different fit. Therefore always check your body measurements against the wetsuit size before buying a wetsuit.