Learning to sew: Designing and creating a wingsuit – Ramblings

Few years ago I saw video (1) of a home build miniature parachute made by my friend Tuukka. The video inspired me quite a bit as before the video I didn’t feel like you could actually build any real “hardware” for skydiving without going to rigging courses and practicing a lot. I felt that designing and building parachute would be too much for my skills, but maybe I could still make something from fabrics.

In 2017 Tuukka jumped his home build and designed parachute (2).

At the end of 2016 skydiving season I borrowed a sewing machine, purchased cheap fabric and spend one evening sewing my very first tracking pants without any sewing patterns. The pants were huge failure (air intakes tore and the pants functioned as a air brakes), but hey, at least I created something.

During the winter I designed first tracking pants which I tested on the first jump of 2017. Unfortunately the design was not very good and the crotch seam and fabric was torn after two jumps while squatting on the ground.

Next there was a design for tracking jacket, but the design for the shoulders was so bad that I didn’t jump any jumps with the thing.

Finally third tracking pants+jacket design was relative good and I was able to have glide ratio around 1.1.

Natural progress towards diy wingsuit required diy one-piece tracking suit so I build one in late 2017. The suit was little bit hard to fly and I’m still not sure of performance of the suit. But at least it looked quite nice.

In December 2017 I started designing the diy wingsuit. I looked at beginner/advanced beginner level wingsuits from different manufacturers and draw a outline of the wingsuit in Inkscape. I used my friends Colugo 2 wingsuit to get idea of the details. Design was done once again in Clo3d/Clo. It took approximately 10-15 hours to design the suit. I ordered the pattern from a printing company which specializes in construction design drawings. This way I didn’t have to tape more than a hundred A4s together to get the full pattern.

Cutting the patterns took only about one hour. Cutting and sewing the first arm wing took about 9 hours, with the second one I made few stupid mistakes and had to unpick the half finished wing back to its basic components.

Quite soon I realized that the leg wing had a design flaw as it did not extend over the buttocks as all commercial wingsuits. Unfortunately at this point modifications were too hard to make for my skills, but I decided to complete the suit.

After about total of 60-120 hours of work the suit was finished. The arm wings still were little bit rough as the sewing machine started to malfunction at the very last hours.

Finally in 2018-04-22 I did first jump with the wingsuit (also my very first wingsuit jump). The suit was very stable and the jump went well. In 2018 I had about 6 jumps with the wingsuit, every one of them quite stable (except when trying backflying). I can achieve around 1.8 glide ratio (wind compensated) with the suit, but I think the GL could be much better with practice.

Unfortunately when moving away from Finland, I had to leave the suit to storage as space in the van was very limited.

Hopefully I return to the suit at some point, maybe I will get few jumps with ‘real’ suits in between.



  1. You made a fine wingsuit, sir. Awesome that you did your first jumps on your own wingsuit!

    I just bought a sewing machine and some fabric. I’m starting down this road to building a wingsuit.

    Let’s chat about wingsuits!

    1. Sorry for late reply, I’m not very actively monitoring the comments 😀
      But that’s great! Start with something smaller first if you don’t have much experience with sewing, like tracking pants. This way you get experience how to create proper seams. Tracking jacket is not that interesting in performance sense, but it is very good exercise on creating the arm wings/fit of the suit.

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