When you come to Terrapin Wetsuits, each step of the process creates a unique wetsuit, custom fit to your exact needs.
Step 1: You get measured.
We take up to 52 separate measurements so that your suit will match your unique body shape.
Step 2: Select your materials and design
You pick out the thickness and colors in your suit. Your suit can be a combination of different thicknesses to cover the parts of you that get colder than others. You can choose from 2 mm, 3mm (1/8″), 5mm (3/16″), or 7mm (1/4″). Most of the neoprene Terrapin stocks is Yamamoto top grade, with moderate compressibility and excellent stretch and wear characteristics. We also offer a few specialized materials, such as Yamamoto SCS coatings (powdery smooth inside), Cordura and Kevlar laminates (highly puncture resistant), and Macro or Glomex neoprene to match other manufacturer’s wetsuits for alterations.
We can insert geometric designs, critter scenes, etc.
You can also select if you want additional zippers (arms, legs, extra long, pee, etc…), pockets (tech sets, special sizes, white balance, etc…), pads, and other features.
Step 3: Your Pattern and Suit are Created.
A pattern is made from your measurements, and the pieces of your suit are glued together. This neoprene glue is so strong, that if you tried to pull it apart, the rubber would tear before the glue would release. All Terrapin neoprene suits are glued and stitched, for the maximum strength. Polartec suits are sewn with a 6-thread cover-stitch, which holds the material together without glue.
Step 4: You come for a fitting.
You come for a fitting, to get a perfect fit on the spots “in between” measuring points, custom placement of pockets, kneepads or other special features, and prior to adding zippers on arms & legs. (Can’t come in for a fitting?…that’s OK, we can do it through the mail, see “Distant Clients” below).
Step 5: Your suit is finished.
The fit adjustments are made, arm & leg zippers are added, and the neoprene suit is stitched with a 2-thread over-locking stitch, inside and out. This stitch is ideal for wetsuits because it secures the fabric laminated on the surface of the neoprene, without poking holes that go all the way through the neoprene; therefore minimizing the paths for water to get into your suit. On suits thinner than 2mm, where the glue surface is thin, the 6-thread cover-stitch is used, to provide strength and support the seam.
Finally, the finishing bindings are added to all openings. We leave no rough edges on Terrapin suits (even inside the zippers are finished with soft binding). Your custom suit is ready for your next dive!
For optimal use of your wetsuit, please be sure to read, understand, and follow the suggested Care and Feeding of Your New Suit. These can be found by clicking About Wet Suit Materials or Warranty, Terms & Conditions.
Here’s the process we use for Distant Clients
Step 1: Getting Measurements: You have two options to start the process:
A. You can order a Terrapin Wetsuits Measuring Kit, which contains the measure chart, special stickers to help you measure accurately, the instructions, a measuring tape, and up to 5 swatches for your color and thickness choices. If you order a kit, please look for and reply to our email about the swatches.
Return the completed Kit to Terrapin Wetsuits, and the $20.00 will be applied to your suit order (refund excludes shipping costs).
— or —
B. If you don’t want to use the kit, you can follow these instructions:
- You download the measure chart from our website. You will need Adobe Reader .
- Have another person take your measurements, over whatever you’d be wearing beneath the suit (either a swimsuit, dive skin, or a polartec, etc.). I always recommend you put some kind of marker on the points where you measure (at the waist, hip, level of the bust, etc…) and take the photos with these markers in place. I suggest that you take each measurement 3 times, to check that you’ve got it right. Please be aware we will make the pattern and the wetsuit from your measurements, so if you get them wrong, the suit won’t fit. Some hints for measuring:
On the chart there are circumferential measurements (4-chest, 5-waist, etc.) and vertical measurements (4.5 is the vertical space between where you measured the chest and where you measured the waist). Take these vertical measurements down the side of your body, under the arm. Even if you’re only going to order the pool suit, please provide all the measurements, that helps me visualize your shape when making the pattern.[nggallery id=37]
Item 18, the girth measurement, is very important. That’s taken from the clavicle notch in the front (B), through the legs and up the back to the vertebrae at the base of the neck (A). Be sure the measuring tape is held flat to the body, following the curves of the seat and small of back.[nggallery id=38]
Item 20 is the inseam measurement from crotch all the way to the ankle bone (not the floor).
Item 21 is the measurement on the outside of your body from the side waist all the way down to the ankle.
For item 22, indicate the inseam length you want on the leg of your shorty or pool suit. The price will be the same if you chose between 5″ and 9″ inseam – if you leave item 22 blank, we’ll make the inseam 5″.
For Item 23, indicate on the chart whether you want the front zipper to be centered (C) or go diagonally down one side (S). If you choose S, indicate left side (LS) or right side (RS).[nggallery id=39]
Step 2: Select your materials and design, and Commit to buy
- On the bottom of the measure chart is a drawing of the basic suit seams. There are no center front, center back or center side seams (unless required for your design). There are 4 body panels, separated by “princess” seams in front and back that are required in our pattern. Indicate on this drawing what colors you want on the body panels, and what thickness neoprene you want on each panel. Terrapin offers a wide range of colors in 3mm (1/8″), 5mm (3/16″), or 7mm (1/4″). I also offer a limited selection of colors in 2mm, and Polartec materials. The color choices currently available are shown on our website.
- Sign page 2 and send both pages along with a 50% deposit check. The remaining balance and the shipping will be due when the suit is finished and ready to ship. If you’re not sure of the amount, just call me and we can discuss the cost of the suit before you commit.
- Send two full-length photographs of yourself: front view and side view, in addition to the completed measure chart and deposit.
- Mail the documents to:
Terrapin Wet Suits
6515 Hwy 27
Center Point, TX 78010
Step 3: Your Pattern and Suit are Created
When I get the Kit or your measurement documents and your deposit, I’ll call to let you know they arrived and we can discuss any measurements that are unclear. I’ll make the suit to match those measurements, accounting for the degree of stretch in the particular thickness of neoprene you select. Typically that is around 5%. I won’t cut neoprene until the deposit is received.
Step 4: You receive the suit for a fitting.
WE STRONGLY RECOMMEND A FITTING BEFORE THE SUIT IS FINISHED. This is the best way to get the best possible fit.
When the suit is ready to ship for the fitting, I’ll call to notify you. You can choose to have me include a return shipping label for your convenience when I send the suit for fitting. Fitting instructions will be shipped along with the suit, but you can also see them on the alterations page by clicking alteration marking instructions.
If you are unable to come to Terrapin for a fitting, and time constraints prevent a fitting before you need the finished suit, you will be entitled to one fitting alteration within four months of the ship date. For taking in or shortening, all you would pay for is the shipping to me, I’ll pay the return ship. So you can dive the suit and then let me know if it needs adjusting. I can also alter the suit if you want to make a design change or a size change, but those would be charged at our standard labor and material rates. Major recuts due to measurement errors are not covered for a free fitting.
Step 5: Your suit is finished.
When you ship the suit back after the fitting step, you’ll include the remaining balance due on your invoice. We remove all excess width or length marked at the fitting, add wrist and leg zippers, pockets, etc… (if ordered), stitch the final stitching and apply edge binding to finish your suit. It’s shipped to you completely finished and ready for your next dive.
New clients often ask “How long will it take?”. Since the full timeframe depends on when you can come to the shop for fitting, or how long you may have the suit (for distant clients), the answer is “it partly depends on you”. But generally, it takes me 1.5-2 weeks to turn your measurements into a suit that’s ready for fitting, and an additional week to finish the suit after the fitting. This may be less for suits with no extra arm and/or leg zippers, or may be more for two-piece suits.
Contact us to discuss your suit!