Michael's book has a ton of ideas for making kites and spinners from all kinds of materials--poster board, shiny metallic wrapping paper, acoustic tiles, garbage bags, and, of course, ripstop nylon. While the book gives clear and concise measurements and directions for some of the kites such as the Delta Star on the cover, sometimes you are on your own to figure out the measurements. That can't be too hard, though, since I managed to do it easily for the two kites above!
Want to start with something easy? Try the Delta Star with all the measurements and directions.
Since I wanted to do a plain, old-fashioned kite, I used the Diamond Two-Stick pattern from the book. Unfortunately the books lacks measurements for this one. Just in case someone else wants to try this one, I'm posting a semi-tutorial with the measurements I used. My kites are about 31 inches across by 34 inches finished and fly just great. Why those numbers? No reason whatsoever. It just kind of looked right and was smaller than the dowel length sold at the store.
Did I follow the Diamond's directions exactly? No. I don't think I am capable of that. Rather than cutting out two triangular pieces and having to sew them together, I cut on the fold for one main piece. I used a 35" line on the fold, slanted down and out 21" on the side, and drew a straight line from that point to the bottom on the 35" line. All edges have a 1/4" seam folded twice for a clean finish.
Some things I learned along the way:
- See that little green square between the two green circles above? Don't do that. I thought I would sew some of these squares on to thread the dowel through. I actually had another one 3/4 of the way down. They make it difficult to bend the dowel to fit into the pockets--very bad idea. After breaking a few dowels, I removed the one I had put on toward the bottom. Putting on ties is a much better idea. You absolutely need the tie at the point where the dowels meet anyway.
- I also tried using 1/8" dowels figuring they would be lighter. They are but they also break easily. The book says use 1/4" dowels and now I do!
- Buy extra dowels and carry them with you. Cutting the kite flying trip short because of broken dowels is so annoying!
- For the side dowel pockets, make them rectangular rather than square. Some of mine are square, and I think it gives the dowel room to move around. I ended up sewing another line to make them narrower. And, don't make them too long! It just makes it harder to bend the dowels into place increasing the chance of breaking them. An inch and a half finished length is more than enough.
- Use button or even upholstery thread to sew on the plastic ring for the kite string. Those rings take a LOT of punishment from the wind.
- Carry a needle, thread, and a couple of small rings to make repairs if needed. You may never need it, but it's nice to know it's there.
You don't want to come all the way back in at the 26" mark, though as you would on the main piece. Square that off by drawing a line 2 1/2 inches down at the other end and drawing the line from the 16" point to the 2 1/2 inch point. I think this picture shows how the end is squared off as opposed to coming to a point as on the main kite piece.
Sew on those corner pocket pieces and a circular plastic piece on the tip of the fin. You are ready to tie on your string. I used the plastic pieces they sell at Joann's for making Roman shades.You do need a tail--just a long strip with smaller rectangles spaced down. I took a tuck in each of the small rectangles to make them look a bit like bows. My tails are 30" long with five 5 1/2" long "bows" about 6" apart.
Last, about all those geometric shapes on my kites--I was just in the mood for doing appliques. I cut out shapes, pinned them on, and did an applique stitch on the machine. Then I cut out the main fabric on the other side to have the shapes show on each side.