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honchoboy
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NMKG Builds - #2 How to make a kite sleeve

Mon Feb 11, 2019 12:58 pm

Ok so let’s be clear on this. For the purpose of this post we will use the term ‘Sleeve’ for the thing you put each individual kite into. I have always just referred to them as bags but I just wanted to clarify that we are not talking about the larger ‘bag’ you put your ‘sleeves’ into.

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This is only one way to make a kite sleeve. It is not the definitive way. I don’t think there is one. There are many ways to make a kite sleeve – the end of closing being the biggest decision point, alongside what is it going to look like? (you want to be able to find it easily amongst all of your others kites don’t you?)

However they all have the same job to do; be long enough to hold the kite and spars, be wide enough to comfortably take out/put away the kite and spars, able to close at one end to prevent loss of the contents, offer some level of protection, and be easily identifiable in a kite bag of many sleeves. Some may also come with pockets on the exterior to put things like line into.

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Sounds so simple. It is. But I do have some commercial kite sleeves that frustrate me. My biggest bug bear is a sleeve that barely fits, as in the ends of the wings are pointing out. Why spend time making a kite and then knock up a sleeve that doesn’t hold it? Also I dislike sleeves that are made with areas of mesh... go down the beach, and come back and tell me how much sand you came away with.

So let us take a quick look at some of the common options available to you for the closing end.

Drawstring end:

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Velcro end:

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Fold over pocket end:

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I tend to normally make a sleeve with either a drawstring or Velcro end. The latter is a lot easier to do (though a drawstring end is simple as well!), but over time the Velcro will start to show signs of wear and may need replacing at some point. I add extra life to my Velcro ends by encasing it within something tougher, my favourite method is having the Velcro sit within some seat belt webbing. I have seen very little wear if I do this. Look at the following picture to see how I use the webbing:

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The Velcro is only sitting in the bottom half of the webbing. This method makes really robust sleeves and I also sometimes have been known to use seatbelt webbing at the bottom of the sleeves for extra toughness. But with Velcro I have known people to ruin a kite by being rough with getting it out/putting it away and the Velcro has snagged on something. Thankfully I have not experienced this.


My preferred way of closing a sleeve though is the drawstring. They work well, last well, and offer good opportunities for kite identification. The drawstring toggles are pence to buy and you can use whatever you want really for the drawstring – cord, bridle line, laces etc. Just stay away from anything cotton as it will rot easily if subject to water i.e. rain. Just go into your local haberdashery store, have a look around, don’t be shy to ask questions and you will walk out the shop with what you need for the closing, if you can why not pick a drawstring that is the same colour as the kite?

As for the overall material of the sleeve I tend to keep it simple and either use a heavy generic ripstop (again, really cheap), or find yourself some nice waterproof material (again, try your haberdashery). I like the waterproof material, not only for the obvious protection against the rain/damp grass, but also dogs just seem to love urinating on my bag/sleeves; though thankfully I have never had anything like a ‘dog attack’ – no sleeve will protect the kite from that!

Maybe it’s just the waterproof material I have got but I have to say it is an absolute swine to sew with until you get the hang of it – it is super, super slippy. Ripstop is zero problem whatsoever to sew with though.
Last edited by honchoboy on Mon Feb 11, 2019 1:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Ian
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Re: NMKG Builds - #2 How to make a kite sleeve

Mon Feb 11, 2019 1:09 pm

Anyhow enough of this waffle and let’s get onto one way of making a sleeve.

In the following picture you can see the kite I want to make a sleeve for and I have laid out some of the materials I will use to make it – fabric, drawstring, a toggle, some material or similar to help identify the sleeves contents (maybe coloured thread), glue/tape (not necessarily needed), a measure, something to cut the material (note that I am using scissors because the material I am using cuts dreadful with a knife, or hot iron), something to take notes in, and a pencil.

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The very first thing we need to do is determine what size the sleeve needs to be to comfortably hold the sleeve. I repeat, not too big, not too small.

And very important, we are going to be making this sleeve inside out i.e. the good side will be face down on the table. Don’t forget this!


I start by putting a straight edge on one side of the material and cutting it, repeat this for the end which is to open and close:

Image

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We now need to work out the sleeves width and height. Fold you kite up neatly and lay it on the material. You can see I use a dressmaker’s measure at this point as well:

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Now roll material over and get a feel for the correct width, I find a nice roll and half of my thumb works well:

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Now whatever this measurement may be you need to remember to add some on to account for the hem. I tend to stick to a 1cm hem so I would add 2cm on to the measurement. Mark this out onto your fabric:

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Now I don’t mark the length needed at this stage or cut it – I will do this at the end, but just make sure it is plenty long enough for the kite, and don’t forget we will need some excess to make the opening at the top – you will see what I mean next.

I am going to fold over 3 cm of material at the opening end to start making the tunnel for the drawstring to sit in. Therefore I mark a line at 6cm from the end at fold it over, thus giving me the required 3cm. If needed, you can use some glue to hold it down (I don’t like tape). Only a very small amount is needed to help.

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Next i fold over the corners of this fold to produce triangles at each end and sew these triangles down.

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For all of my sleeves I use a straight stitch of 3mm (a simple way to check your stitch length is place a piece of paper under the foot and hand wheel the needle, minus thread to produce holes – measure these holes to check the stitch length:

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Once this is done I then fold this in half again as in the following picture:

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Then sew this down, trying your very best to marry the stitch up to the stitching on the triangles:

Image
Ian
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honchoboy
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Re: NMKG Builds - #2 How to make a kite sleeve

Mon Feb 11, 2019 1:20 pm

Now I want to add something to help me identify the sleeves contents, in this case a piece of decorative webbing which i am going to stitch across the sleeves width about a third of the way down (do whatever you want here!):

Image

Now we need to feed the drawstring though the tunnel we have made at the opening end (push it, use a long needle, bit of carbon to poke it etc). As for length of the drawstring? A rule of thumb I use is double the width of the sleeve, but I always tend to chop some off this at the end:

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Next find the middle of this tunnel and put a few stitches in to help hold the drawstring in place:

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We are more than half way now to having a finished sleeve:

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Next, we need to sew the sleeve together along its length; I hope you haven’t forgotten to add the hem allowance on this as mentioned earlier!

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Now is when I work out the correct length for the sleeve by simply putting the kite into the sleeve, close the opening and marking off where I need to stitch the bottom, again be generous but not overly.

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Then stitch it closed:

Image
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Re: NMKG Builds - #2 How to make a kite sleeve

Mon Feb 11, 2019 1:22 pm

Excellent, good work =D>
 
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Re: NMKG Builds - #2 How to make a kite sleeve

Mon Feb 11, 2019 1:29 pm

Now at this stage the sleeve is finished, but I like to do one more thing, which gives a kind of square shaped end as opposed to a flat one.

Place the sleeve so the stitching at the side is sat on top as in the following picture. This will produce a kind of crocodiles head at the non opening end:

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I then put a ruler into the 'mouth’ at the crease and mark off a straight line near the tip of the triangle.

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This is then stitched down and repeated for the other tip:

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Now turn the sleeve inside out so that we are seeing it from its true side.

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Note how the end looks square because of this extra step:

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Now we need to add the toggle to the drawstring:

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Voila, the sleeve is 99% finished:

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Just a simple case now of inserting the kite into the sleeve, closing the drawstring, and shortening it if needed.

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Finally stand back and admire your handiwork:

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Last edited by honchoboy on Mon Feb 11, 2019 1:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Ian
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Re: NMKG Builds - #2 How to make a kite sleeve

Mon Feb 11, 2019 1:31 pm

Now if you can’t remember any of this there is a useful little freeware program that can help you work out the sizes for your sleeve. I advise to not necessarily use its suggested measurements as gospel (the drawstring seems way to long for me, and the suggested width should be double checked - tends to be too big for my liking) but it is a great program to refer to. And if you do use it let the software maker know you liked it – see it’s about tab for details.

Hmmm, looks like the webpage download for the kite sleeve program is no longer hosted,

But...thanks to the power of Wayback Machine you can download it here:

https://web.archive.org/web/20160401224135/http://members.shaw.ca/kiteman/Downloads/KiteBag/TWKiteBag.zip


I hope you have found this useful or at the very least has not bored you to death.

Once again, this is just how I do it – be inventive, have a play and see what way works best for you.

See you in the next instalment of NMKG Builds :D
Ian
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Re: NMKG Builds - #2 How to make a kite sleeve

Mon Feb 11, 2019 9:48 pm

Nice job Ian. Interesting thread mate.
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Re: NMKG Builds - #2 How to make a kite sleeve

Tue Feb 12, 2019 4:47 am

Well done

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Re: NMKG Builds - #2 How to make a kite sleeve

Wed Feb 13, 2019 1:19 pm

Brilliant job, i like the way do do those corners.
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Re: NMKG Builds - #2 How to make a kite sleeve

Mon Feb 18, 2019 12:41 pm

Will be following your builds with keen interest just brought s/h sewing machine.
first project will be the kite sleeve.
Never used sewing machine before.
Is there any type of thread that is best for this type of work?(i take it not cotton).
Also what type/size needle?
 
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Re: NMKG Builds - #2 How to make a kite sleeve

Mon Feb 18, 2019 2:58 pm

Very interesting, Thank you for sharing.
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honchoboy
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Re: NMKG Builds - #2 How to make a kite sleeve

Tue Feb 19, 2019 11:50 am

woody482 wrote:
Is there any type of thread that is best for this type of work?(i take it not cotton).
Also what type/size needle?


As for thread I always use Gutermann Sew All thread which is polyester. You are correct in thinking that cotton is a no-no. This thread comes in a wide range of colours and can be found in any good haberdashery, plus Hobbycraft also sells it, I have never had a problem with it (and I've tried a few different makes) and wouldn't use anything else.

As for needle, I nearly always use a size 11 for the sail. I go up to a 14 (or sometimes a 16) on thicker material areas such as the nose. Save yourself a bit of grief and buy branded needles i.e something with a name on. I like the Schmetz needles, and normally just use a Standard point now (microtex points are pretty good as well). Schemtz needles are not much more expensive than a generic one, but the extra pennies will show in your work, and you 'should' have far less sewing problems.

A needle should last a whole kite. Listen to the noise it makes when using a new one and when you hear the sound change (bit like a plop noise, you'll recognise the difference in sound), its time to put a fresh needle in. IMO If you have any problems with your stitching a lot of the time it is down to the needle.

Bags are a great way to begin learning how to sew, as you can just concentrate on trying to achieve nice straight lines, and if it does mess up you can just unpick it and try again.

And another tip...try to get used to running the machine as fast as you can - your stitching will be straighter/neater. I liken it to drawing a straight line with a pencil - a line that is drawn fast tends to be straighter than a line which is drawn slow.

I might do the next instalment on sewing???
Ian
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Re: NMKG Builds - #2 How to make a kite sleeve

Tue Feb 19, 2019 12:50 pm

Very much appreciated. Thanks for explaining to newbie going to really enjoy your Thread(builds). Learn't so much already!!!
 
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Re: NMKG Builds - #2 How to make a kite sleeve

Tue Mar 05, 2019 4:31 pm

Just saw this. Great content Ian!