Introduction: Freestyle Stunt Kite
This is a really fun project for anyone interested in sewing, kites or both! If you are a professional stunt kiter or a seasoned sewer, or an absolute beginner in both fields (like me) this is the project for you.
Disclaimer: I switch between cm and inches throughout this guide. Bear with me.
-Ripstop Nylon2 yd. If you plan your cuts out right, you can probably make two, or even three kites with this amount of material. The reason you need two yards is that if you purchase any less, you will not have enough length to fit the template (unless you position it diagonally, but then the seams get all wonky and you'll need to get another yard anyway because you've just taken up the entire yard of fabric by doing that). You can buy good ripstop for around $8 US, but I bought some junkier stuff for just under $5 US.
-Dacron Fabric2yd? This is a little tricky. The total amount of this fabric that you actually need to use is quite low, but we have leading edges that are around 48 inches (122cm) long each. Since Dacron (or any other polyester fiber fabric) is like $10 per yard, I just used some muslin I found lying around. Don't judge.
-1/4" Wooden Dowels 48" long6 pcs. Fiberglass spars or wound epoxy tubes are better, stronger options if you can afford it.
-1/4" Inner Diameter Vinyl Tubingabout 24" This holds the rods together.
-Double Sided Tape. Pinning the fabric together for sewing is a pain in the rear end. Make your life easier by taping.
-Kite String ~250 ft. I bought 500 ft of the stuff, which is about twice as much as you need. The strings are going to be about 75 feet, so having extra is nice for the bridles and whatnot.
-Nylon Push Fasteners2 pcs. This is just to hold the support rod in place.
-Stunt Kite Strings 100 ft(Optional) I don't show you how to make these, but you can buy them online for a reasonable price.
-Wood Burner or Soldering Iron. I used this instead of scissors because it seals the cut and prevents fraying. A hotknife works better for this.
-Sewing Machine. This kind of goes without explanation. You could sew by hand if you have copious amounts of time and patience.
-Paper roll or pattern paper. This is for marking out the design.
-Fabric Scissors for cutting fabric.
-Hacksaw or something similar to cut the dowels to length.
Step 1: Cutting the Template
This should be done on a roll of paper or something. This is so you can cut it out on the fabric. I have a list of the measurements below. It looks harder to understand than it actually is.
A-B 73 cm
A-E 53 cm
A-R 50 cm
A-F 65.5 cm
A-I 120 cm
A-L 60 cm
L-K 6 cm
O-P 5 cm
M-N 5.5 cm
B-J 38 cm
J-I 70 cm
B-N 19 cm
J-P 35 cm
E-J 32 cm
Now that you have the template drawn out on paper, cut it out with regular paper scissors. Please don't ruin fabric scissors by cutting paper with them. When you are ready to cut out the fabric, pin or tape the template onto the nylon. and start up your wood burner. There is no seam allowance included in the template provided, so try to cut half an inch off from the edge of the paper. It is Very Important to only cut one sheet of nylon at a time. I cut both sails at once and ended up fusing them together. Getting them apart took nearly an hour.
Template Credit: Arthur Edwards' Bdub
Step 2: Center Sail Connector
Cut a 10 cm x 75 cm strip of ripstop nylon, and an identical piece of Dacron. Hem the sides as shown to make the strip about 7 or 8 cm wide.
Step 3: Connecting the Sails
Once you have a nice little strip of strong fabric, sew the two sails onto the sides of the strip as shown using double-sided tape to hold the fabric together. Create a 2-inch by 1/2-inch rectangle centered 11 and 1/2-inhces from the base of the center sail connector. Cut it out. You now have the flesh of a stunt kite!
Step 4: Make the Leading Edge
These strips of dacron will be folded over the leading edge, and it will hold the frame in place.
These strips are 6 cm wide and 120 cm long. Make sure the strips go a little further along the nose of the kite when taping them to the sails. Tape and sew the strips on like a tube. Make sure that a 1/4 inch dowel can slip inside the sleeve.
Next, we need to create notches in the leading edge to allow the frame to connect. There will be two notches on each side. These notches are two inches long, and 1/4" deep. The first is centered 7 inches from the base of the leading edge and the second is centered 36" from the base.
Step 5: Building the Frame - Connectors
It is time to make the kite take shape! Before cutting the dowels, we need to make the connectors.
Cut the vinyl tubing into five 3-inch lengths and one 5-inch length.
Take a 1/4 inch drill and drill through the center of the 5-inch tube. Shove one of the 3-inch tubes through the hole.
Drill through the 3-inch tubes close to the end at a 45-degree angle. If you were to shove the tubes onto the dowels, they will stick out at an angle. There is an example of a hole in the image.
Now, we can cut the dowels!
Step 6: Building the Frame - Rods
This is where the magic happens...
You will need a total of seven different rods to create the frame.
2x 48 inch
2x 35 inch
2x 8 inch
1x 32 inch
1x 25 inch
Now, it is time to attach the rods together.
Begin by sliding the 48-inch dowel through one of the sleeves until it barely pokes out of the first notch.
Slide one of the 3" vinyl tubes with the 45-degree hole onto the dowel. It should point perpendicular to the center connector, as shown in the image.
Keep shoving the dowel down the sleeve while keeping the tubing stationary.
Once the dowel pokes through the second notch, slide a second vinyl segment on keeping the same orientation as the first one.
Mirror these steps on the opposite side.
Now, shove the shorter of the two vinyl tubes that are stuck through each other onto the 35-inch rod while keeping them interlocked. I used the hole in a handle of a spatula to forcefully smash the tube onto the rod. It takes finesse. Also, don't forget to put it on after it is poking through the square hole. I absentmindedly made the mistake of putting it on beforehand.
Push the little wing things through the slot to the other side of the kite.
Finish the center rod by sliding it all the way into the nose of the kite.
Now, you can take a 35-inch dowel and stick each end into the protruding vinyl tubes, giving the kite its basic shape.
Repeat this on the other side, and now it is fully two-dimensional.
Shove the 25-inch rod across the top section.
This step has been long. Good job for making it through.
Step 7: Vertical Strut/Spreader
Now, you will need the two 8-inch dowels, and drill a 5/64 inch diameter (or similar) hole into one end of each rod.
Refer back to the schematic on step 1. On point J, fold a small length of duct tape around the trailing edge of the kite, and mark the original point.
Use an awl or a drill or some pointy stabby thing and make a hole 1/2 inch above point J. The sharpie mark in the picture shows the approximate location of the hole.
Take a nylon push fastener and stick it through the hole. Shove the holy stick onto the push fastener. if it is done right, the push fastener will fasten the dowel in place.
Repeat on the other side.
Congratulations! Now you are done with the frame of the kite!
Step 8: Stringing the Kite.
This part is tricky, but I will do my best to explain it.
The string lengths you will need are listed:
1x 100 inch
1x 85 inch
4x 24 inch
2x 12 inch
First, fold the 100-inch string in half to find the midpoint. Tie the center of the line around the base of the spine giving you two lines coming from it. Tie each end to the ends of the leading edge rods.
Make a loop from a 24-inch string, and tie an overhand loop around the 100-inch string and the vertical support to be about 8 inches long when stretched.
The 85-inch string goes from point A to B to Center all the way to the other leading edge. The midpoint around the center dowel connector, then ties each end to the lower spreader's connector.
Use another 24-inch string for A to C to B. Use a lark's head knot to attach it to the top spreader and the center string.
Finally, make two equal loops from the 12-inch strings and secure them at point C using a lark's head knot.
Step 9: And Now We Are Finished!
Congrats on building your very own stunt kite!
Hook up your stunt kite strings to the kite, and let the wind do the rest.
I hope you enjoyed making this as much as I did. Feel free to leave feedback in the comment section!