Thursday, February 21, 2013

Making a 2m Rokkaku - Sewing

Part 2 of 4
Ripstop is very light and slippery which makes accurate sewing a little tricky. I pinned the panels together to sew the seams. Other kite makers use tape, glue or melting tools but pins worked for me.

Common sewing stitches used are straight and zigzag. Straight stitch has less stretch and is good for seams.  Adjust the stitch length to about 8 stitches per inch. It's essential to practice first on scrap cloth to ensure the tension is correct. Consult your manual or ask an expert to adjust the tension. I used zigzag on the corner patches because that seems to be what the experts do.

Panel seams
Pin the panels together face to face and sew along the 15mm seam line pulling the pins out before you run over them. Open out the panels, fold the seam over, and sew it down flat. The raw edges will be exposed but coated ripstop won't fray. For a really professional finish you can fold the top edge under before sewing down. Might try that next time.

Corner reinforcing patches
Corner reinforcing patches are cut like pieces of pie from a 150mm diameter circle of stiffer cloth. Once the panels are sewn together position the circle over the top corner, mark the angle and cut out the wedge. For the side corners you only need to fold the remaining part of the circle in half and cut along the fold.

Once all the panels are sewn together you can sew on the corner patches but first fold and make a crease all the way around the kite along the hem line. Now position the corner patches a few mm in from the hem line with pins and just sew around the curved edge.

Now for my favourite bit, the double folded hem. I like this bit because it's easier than seams and it finishes off the kite, apart from a few more patches. Fold the fabric edge over to the crease then fold again to form a 10mm hem. Sew down using straight stitch all the way around the kite. You can fold as you go.

Side and top spar pockets are made from 100mm lengths of 25mm wide webbing with 35mm folded over folded over to form the pocket. When sewing down the side pockets you can form an end loop for the bridle lines by sewing across 10mm back from the fold.

The bottom spine pocket needs to be adjustable to tension the spine. Velcro and webbing are used to form a pocket and adjustable flap.

Bridle holes and spar crossing points and ties
Four 40mm square patches are sewn on 400mm out from the centre of the kite and in line with the upper and lower spars, and another in the centre of the spine. Beware, the centre of the kite is on the folded edge rather than the middle of the centre seam. 

To make holes for the bridle to pass through I melted holes in the patch using a heated piece of coat hanger wire. Other kite makers fit brass grommets as well.

At the spine and spar crossing points I used a 80mm x 40mm patch. Onto the patch goes an 80mm piece of webbing which has velcro pieces sewn on to hold the cross spar. A 15mm stitching gap is left in the middle of the webbing for the spine to slide through. That way the spine always sits between the spar and the cloth.

Velcro is sewn on to the centre spine patch to hold the spine.

Here is a video of the process which will help make sense of these instructions.

Next post will cover spars and bridle

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