Fashion and recreation collide

Theresa Edwards

Skydiver combines two loves to make her own jumpsuit

“(This) is me walking back after making my 53rd jump in Lucca, Italy,” said Allison Mazzon, junior fashion design major. Mazzon also said the jumpsuit she is wearing is not her design, but it is similar. PHOTO COURTESY OF ALLISON MAZZON

Credit: Carl Schierhorn

Allison Mazzon wanted control. She took her measurements first. Then she decided whether to use nylon or spandex. Her choice depended on if she wanted to fall faster or slower.

Customization and comfort were her priorities in making her own skydiving jumpsuit, said the junior fashion design and merchandising major.

She has been sewing for 13 years and experience gained through her major, along with help from a professor and professionals, helped her make her first jumpsuit. The idea to design a jumpsuit came from her skydiving hobby.

Mazzon started from scratch and sought advice from the owner of Skydive Pennsylvania, the drop zone where she jumps a little more than an hour from Kent, about which materials to use for the jumpsuit.

She said by using nylon, it would cause her to fall faster because the air can’t get through the material. If she made the jumpsuit out of spandex, she would fall more slowly because the material is more breathable.

Measurements from a jumpsuit she knew fit her helped her create the pattern for her new jumpsuit, she said. She started from scratch making copies of ready-made jumpsuits and adding modifications so it would be different.

The drop zone let her borrow a suit so she could make the measurements.

“She took the old ones they had and used them to make patterns and went to work,” said Woody Hoburg who worked at Skydive Pennsylvania the summer Mazzon made the jumpsuit.

He said the drop zone needed new tandem suits, which are two-person suits typically used when instructors are teaching students, and Mazzon volunteered to make them.

About seven new suits total were made for the drop zone, Mazzon said.

“She knows the sport and knows what’s required, and we pretty much handed her the jumpsuits that needed replacements for and she laid them out on the floor and made measurements,” said Hoburg, a 20-year-old sophomore at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

She made other suits for other jumpers at the drop zone as well. It took a while and was hard to get started, she said, but after she made a couple suits it became easier.

When she came to Kent State, she said she wanted to do something engineering or sewing related. She said she grew up wanting to be a fashion design major and now she’s leaning more toward making patterns and the technical side of fashion design.

She spent last semester in Florence studying fashion and is in New York this semester as part of the fashion program.

Though Mazzon made jumpsuits, she isn’t comfortable trying anything else skydive related.

“I’m kind of afraid to make much else right now,” she said. “I don’t want to screw up on something that could save my life.”

She started jumping two years ago and because she knew how to sew she thought it would be a lot cheaper to make her own jumpsuit. It cost her $30 by putting in her own labor compared to the $200 give or take someone would pay to buy from a professional company.

Versatility was one of her goals in customizing her jumpsuit. She wanted to be able to wear it in warm and cold weather, and she wanted it to be comfortable.

She said she’s thinking of making modifications to her current jumpsuit as well.

New attachments such as baggier arms would help her fall faster or slower instead of changing the material of her suit.

“I’m trying to make it so it’s all in one suit so people don’t have to buy more than one,” she said.

Jumps can be made without jumpsuits, Mazzon added. But, it’s more comfortable and more aerodynamic than wearing street clothes.

Safety was a non-issue because the professionals at the drop zone looked the suit over before she made her first jump in it, she said.

“Unless you make it too baggy so you can’t reach the handles,” she said, “there isn’t too much you can screw up with what you wear.”

Contact features reporter Theresa Edwards at [email protected].