How to make your own custom-fit Neoprene Sprayskirt

I started my first neoprene project in 2002 shortly after seeing Reg Lake’s demonstration at R2K2. It was a sprayskirt. I have made a lot of neoprene gear since then and when compared by my more recent projects this first sprayskirt is pretty rough, but I still use it. And the each next project seemed to turn out a little better each time. Neoprene is very easy to work with and making our own gear is a good way to get custom fit equipment without spending to much of your hard earned money.

  Here’s what you’ll need:

1. 3mm N2S (Nylon on both sides) Neoprene – how much you’ll need depends on your cockpit size and tunnel height.
2. 3mm N1S textured Neoprene Strip (grippy neoprene, nylon on only one side) – 3” wide, length is approximately cockpit rim circumference. (you could also use N2S for this, but I think the textured gives a better grip on the cockpit rim.)
3. Bungee – I’ve used 1/4”, 5/16”, and 3/8”. (you'll probably want to use 5/16")
4. Three stainless steel hog clips sized to fit your bungee.
5. Neoprene Glue (Rubatex 27705 or equivalent).
6. Butcher paper for drawing pattern pieces.
7. Q-Tips™ and Acid Brush for glue application.

 Recommended Tools.

1. Rotary cutter (makes cutting neoprene easy)
2. Chacoliner (best tool for transferring patterns to neoprene, available from the quilt aisle at your local fabric store)
3. Latex Gloves
4. Fabric Pencil Chalk Liner (Chaco Liner, available in your local fabric store's quilting aisle)

 Mandatory Equipment.

  2. Respirator (neoprene glue has some nasty fumes)
How to glue neoprene. I use black neoprene glue (Rubatex 27705 purchased from sweetcomposites.com, formerly johnrsweet.com). To apply glue to the side of a piece for an edge to edge seam, I prefer to use a Q-tip with most of the fuzz pulled off. I use a small baby food jar for to hold the neoprene glue and pour into it only as much glue as I will need for each step (and keep my other container closed). For applying glue to the surface of a piece, I usually use an acid brush (available from the plumbing section of your local hardware store). This stuff is goes on with two applications: 1) apply glue to the surface to be glued and wait at least 5 minutes (or overnight), 2) put on second application then wait 10 minutes then carefully put surfaces together (this time may vary slightly depending on your temperature/humidity -- the glue should be tacky, but not still wet). This stuff really sticks so you pretty much get only one shot at this, so get it right. After initially attaching the pieces to each other, immediately go back over the entire section and again press the just glued surfaces firmly together. The seam will not have full strength for another 12-24 hrs.

 Here’s the process

I. Make your Pattern Pieces.
  a. Sprayskirt Deck. Trace outside shape cockpit rim – draw line 1/2" inside traced line to get pattern for sprayskirt deck.

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b. Tunnel. The base of the tunnel should be about the circumference of your waist. The top of the tunnel should be your waist minus 10%. (Actually measure your waist where the sprayskirt will be. This will typically be a little more than the waist size of your jeans – at least it is for me.) I'd recommend you take your neoprene sheet and do a test fit before you cut your pattern just to ensure you get a good fit that is not too loose or too tight. Cut the ends as shown here. Put index marks along the bottom edge of the tunnel. These will serve as index marks when gluing the tunnel to the deck.

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c. Cut 3” strip of grippy neoprene to length that is the circumference of the cockpit rim plus a few extra inches. This will be trimmed to fit during the gluing process.

 d. Cut ellipse template to be used later for cutting hole in deck. This ellipse needs to have a circumference equal to the waist dimension used for the tunnel To get an ellipse this size, draw as shown, where b = (waist) divided by 5.10, and a = (waist ) divided by 9.06. An easy way to cutout the pattern piece is to first cut a rectangle with width of 2 x a and length of 2 x b, fold it in half, and then in half again so you end up with a rectangle measuring a x b. Then draw a quarter of the ellipse on the paper and cut out all 4 quadrants at the same time. If what you cut out looks like a football with pointy ends, try it again until you get a smoothly shaped ellipse. Put index marks on pattern on the outside edge of the ellipse at the top, bottom, and sides, and then put 4 more between these marks. This will divide the ellipse into 8 equal segments and will be transferred to the deck to serve as index marks when gluing the tunnel to the deck.

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