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Author Topic: Vortex, my first kite build!  (Read 15163 times)
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AKA_MrBill
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« on: November 05, 2011, 11:53 AM »

I've been itching to do this for some time now. I'll be drawing inspiration from a couple different builders and the fine work that they do. The first is Ken McNeill. I own one of his Exile Nitro's. When you look at it closely, you recognize true craftsmanship and artistry fused together in what can only be described as simplicity and perfection. The second builder is Sugarbaker. His B'Zar 2011 build thread, http://www.gwtwforum.com/index.php?topic=5165.0 , has been a HUGE help in figuring out how to approach this project. Additionally, he and I share another passion, photography. So, I will be taking a clue from him and sharing some of my "Eye Candy" with you.

During this build, if ANYONE sees me heading down a path, or doing a process, that will end up causing trouble, PLEASE SPEAK UP!!
I am doing this to help me learn and hopefully, to help others in the future.

So, here we go. Let me first start off with some of the tools and work areas I will be using to do this build.

As recommended in the "Kite Sewing 101" post, http://members.cox.net/maggiekite/sew/sew101.html, I put the word out that I was looking for a sewing machine to use and a good friend GAVE me this Singer 6501 for free. It runs perfectly! It only does 3 stitches. Straight, Zig-zag and tripple Zig-zag.
(Please don't let the 17" wide photo printer distract you. It is a toy for one of my other hobbies  Wink )

My other work area is in the garage. I placed an old bathroom mirror we had removed on a hobby table and taped it down. This will be my cutting table.


Here are some of the supplies I will be using: 2" wide Dacron, 1" wide Dacron (I may be cutting this down to .5"-.75" for the TE, not sure yet.) Two types of "Moonie Tape", 3" Seat belt, and 2" wide Mylar backed Dacron. I also purchased a 100yrd spool of 100Lb. Spectra core bridle line. There is some seam tape there as well.


My templates are made already. I had FedEx (Kinkos) print out my plans at A0 size. I then cut the templates and mounted them onto "poster board" (actually it was the 1/32" cardboard stiffeners from boxes of X-Ray film.) If I decide to build more than one or two Vortex's, I'll buy a hobby band saw and make them out of Hard Board.



OK, this last item I want to show you is what I will be using to hold the cloth to the templates to prevent them from moving/slipping during the cutting process. This is a mounting adhesive I have used in the past for photography. I no longer use it because I have found a better way to mount. That said, I have tested this adhesive on paper and attaches the PC-31 to it. It holds great and releases the PC-31 without leaving any residue and yet stays put on the paper. Additionally, if I save the little plastic sheets, I can the cover the adhesive and it stays ready to use until the next time I need to secure some cloth. The strip in the picture has had PC-31 attached and removed from it over 10 times. It is just as sticky now as it was the first time I tested it. The key is, don't loose the little plastic strips.


Time for a little Eye Candy.
Half Dome in Yosemite taken from North Dome, Sept. 2007.
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madhabitz
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« Reply #1 on: November 05, 2011, 01:36 PM »

This is an awesome and very adventurous project, Mr.B. Amazing!

Just a note before I head to work:  I used to make a lot of quilts, so I have made a template or two in my time. The cardboard you used for templates will work just fine, but no need to cut things out of hardboard in the future. Since you have access to the box of X-Ray film, do you have access to the exposed film itself? That stuff makes great, durable templates.

If you can't get the film, head down to your local quiltshop and get some of the template plastic. The sheets should be large enough for your largest template in the photo.

On another note, after doing your photocopies/enlargements, check your pieces for accuracy-- you may have to re-draft some of them. Photocopiers have a bit of distortion built into them (not much), so it never hurts to make sure things are right after you fit the pieces back together again.

It'll be fun watching your progress and the eye-candy photos.

Nancy
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madhabitz
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« Reply #2 on: November 05, 2011, 01:42 PM »

Well I'm an idiot. I think. I may have been a quiltmaker, but never a kitebuilder. Maybe you DO need the hardboard if you cut out the fabric with a hot-knife or something. Plastic templates wouldn't be such a good thing in that case.

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fidelio
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« Reply #3 on: November 05, 2011, 04:54 PM »

your machine is the same one i have used. without the ability to adjust the bottom tension, i've found mine will randomly make a big ball of thread on the backside of the stitch when materials are thick and you're putting many stitches in a small area, like a finishing stitch. it's very frustrating. i've been told i'm doing something wrong but what i can't figure out, so who knows. just making you aware of the possibility, so pay close attention when you're in that sort of scenario (nose, tail, wingtips).

also with no walking foot or dual feed system the top layer of material 'drags' a bit, so when you sew, make sure whatever you're stitching is well stuck together before it goes through the needle as over a long distance the bottom layer can 'creep' down the length of the seam, if that makes sense.

the machine i used hasn't been serviced since it was new but essentially hadn't been used either, so take my comments for what you will. since it's the same machine though it couldn't hurt to share the experience.

since you're using a glass top as your cutting surface you can also use static electricity to help keep your fabric smooth on the table. if you use a piece of material which generates static electricity easily like polyester, you can rub it on your fabric as it lay on the table before you lay your templates down to cut and it will help keep things in place as well.

edit: for the trailing edge, because dacron and curves are mortal enemies, slit nylon i think is what most people use but hopefully other builders will comment on this.
« Last Edit: November 05, 2011, 05:00 PM by fidelio » Logged

Fdeli
Will Sturdy
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« Reply #4 on: November 05, 2011, 05:47 PM »

You may have to pop the lower bobbin housing out but somewhere there is most likely a tiny screw that can adjust bottom tension... It's a HUGE pain on drop-in bobbin machines though.

For the most part it's not a good idea to put many stitches in a small area with the materials we use. Each time the needle goes through the material it weakens the fabric, so bigger stitches are better. To finish off a seam, backstitch. Don't sew in exactly the same area - spread the holes. The last thing you want to do is put a lot of holes in a high stress area. Basically minimize the holes in any bearing surface. If you're worried about the thread breaking and so want to add more strength, use thicker thread, not more stitches.

For the times when you need lots of stitches, like in the internal stitching on a nose, crank up the upper tension. It might need a ton of extra tension, but eventually it will get tight enough. If there are stops on the tension mechanism you might have to remove them so it can get tighter. On a nose you shouldn't be so worried about the number of stitches so long as it's well within the webbing. Make sure there are stitches that go to the edges of the webbing to increase the bearing surface against the sail.

I've found that 1.5 oz nylon and 3.9 oz dacron are about equal in difficulty to apply. The nylon creeps more easily, so it's difficult to keep it even on the front and back. Dacron holds the crease better. Dacron is stiffer, so it is slightly harder to keep a fair curve. Just go slowly and it'll work out fine. It can start doing funky stuff if you're using a width more than about 3/4"
In the end it comes down to the loads - if you're using a leech line, the nylon is plenty strong enough where the tape won't be subject to abrasion from the lines or in ground handling. I generally use a nylon tape along the length of the TE and then add a dacron doubler around the standoff area - how far it extends on each side depends on where the lines hit in different maneuvers. The only reason I don't use dacron for the entire length is weight - why use something heavy when I don't have to?

Looking real good so far!



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AKA_MrBill
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« Reply #5 on: November 05, 2011, 07:27 PM »

Fidelio,
Thanks for the heads up on this machine. I know it is not ideal, but for free, I will not complain. It is good to know what to expect though. So far, it has run flawlessly.

OK, here's a couple updates.

Fortunately the cloth I am using it see through enough that I can line up the bias exactly square.
 

I have all the panels cut. Here is a quick layout of the right sail. So far so good!


And one more piece of eye candy for the evening.
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Svolazzo
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« Reply #6 on: November 05, 2011, 07:49 PM »

I don't like at all dacron on the TE, it's too hard to apply, doesn't keep a sweet curve and is heavier than the 25mm wide spinnaker I usually use.
If all the kites I have and have seen feature spinnaker on the TE, a reason have to be. To apply spinnaker I have adopted the way Mark of Jest of Eve uses, see him on the web here
http://it.justin.tv/jest_of_eve/videos.
I sew a short stripe of dacron only as reinforcement in the standoffs area, this stripe exceed standoffs holes 30mm each side. Besides I saw a double sewing in the TE: the first close to the edge is a one stitch zigzag, the other a 3 stitches zigzag, see the picture below magnifing it.

Paolo

« Last Edit: November 07, 2011, 10:05 AM by Svolazzo » Logged
mikenchico
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« Reply #7 on: November 06, 2011, 09:05 AM »

Thanks for the heads up on this machine. I know it is not ideal, but for free, I will not complain. It is good to know what to expect though. So far, it has run flawlessly.
It only does 3 stitches. Straight, Zig-zag and tripple Zig-zag.

There is nothing wrong with that machine that proper technique and maintenance doesn't overcome. I just hand rolled and sewed on strips pf double fold edge binding of slippery ripstop as it went through a similar machine with nary a pucker and so did Rhonda. If I can do it anybody can, after all I'm half blind and shake like a leaf in a hurricane. Just make sure your feed dogs are clean and sharp and the presser foot is clean, smooth and polished. Keep the bed of the machine clean and enough room at your workplace to keep the fabric clear of obstacles, plan and roll your fabric as needed to go through the arm as far in advance as practical so you can keep the fabric as level as possible across the machines bed. Never push or pull the fabric through the machine, let the machine move the fabric, you are only guiding the fabric, align and smooth it as it goes onto the bed. The coated fabrics we use are a joy to sew with IMO, plus I can't imagine how anybody could get a taped seam to shift. The only feature I sometimes covet is an automatic needle down stop for those times I forget to hand crank it down before raising the foot but that's my mistake, not the machine. I would probably forget to turn that switch on as often as I currently forget to crank the needle down anyway.
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madhabitz
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« Reply #8 on: November 06, 2011, 12:05 PM »

Some good advice in this thread-- I'll add a couple more tips:

- Make sure you use new sewing machine needles when you begin a project and change them out anytime you feel the need. For example, if the needle starts to make a different sound... kind of like it's ripping the fabric instead of going thru like butter, it might be time to change to a new one because the old has gotten dull. Sometimes the needle will develop a burr. Change it out. Practice will help you to know when it's time.

- You can buy an after-market walking foot attachment. A decent one is worth its weight in gold, as it will feed the top and the bottom layers of fabric evenly, though Mike's thought about taped-together fabric has a lot of merit. It's just a lot easier with even feeding. Because you're doing a lot of zigzagging, you'll want to make sure the walking foot you buy has a wide enough opening for the needle-- you don't want one with just a hole for the needle to go thru. Here's a picture of what I'm talking about (notice the wide oblong opening):


For what it's worth, you'll need to know if your machine is "long shanked" or "short shanked" and/or the model number. It's difficult to tell from the picture, but I think yours might be long shanked. You can find a selection of walking feet on eBay or Amazon or probably at a quilt shop.

- Adjusting Tension: Will was right-- your bobbin will likely have a tiny screw that you can use to adjust the tension. Use scraps to play with it, turning it in small increments until the tension is just right. Be sure to use a couple of layers of the same fabric you will be using to sew your kite. You'll want to check tension before the start of each project. Doesn't hurt to check everytime you add a newly filled bobbin, either, but that might be going overboard. Here are a couple of pictures to help you know what a stitch should look like:




The following image demonstrates how you can check to see if the tension is correct-- hold the thread and slightly bounce the dangling bobbin case-- the case should drop slightly when bounced, not stay where it is (too tight) and not drop to the floor (too loose):


- Finally, Mike was again correct about keeping your machine clean. You can get a tiny little brush at most any fabric shop-- it looks like a tiny bottle brush. You might even have one that came with your machine. Keep everything clean and everything well oiled. It makes a HUGE difference. After oiling, be sure to run a few stitches with scraps to soak up any dripping oil.

Hope this helps-- you are doing great!!!

Nancy
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« Reply #9 on: November 06, 2011, 12:49 PM »

One suggestion for the templates. Offset printing plates are made from aluminum and are thin enough to cut with a good pair of scissors and since they are metal they will lat a long time and can be used perfectly for hot cutting. With luck you find a printing house where you can get used ones for free.
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AKA_MrBill
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« Reply #10 on: November 06, 2011, 03:35 PM »

I was able to get the right sail taped up today. Before I move on the the left sail, I want to share a couple comments and a process I have been using.
A walking foot may be in the works. I need to do some testing before I decide to buy one or not.

Thanks for the advice on using Dacron on the TE. I may just need to buy some Slit Nylon, either that or I may cut some strips from a 2 yard sheet I have coming. It's a good thing I am not in a rush  Cheesy .

I created a chart for taping the panels in order for the right and left sail. This will help me make sure I place the darker panels over the lighter ones. In the picture below you can see the chart as well as a neat trick that helped align the panels as well as hold them in place until they could be secured with "blue tape". I found that using "sticky notes" not only gave a handle that was easy to use to fine align the panels, but the adhesive on the sticky notes is also just strong enough to hold the panels until the tape is applied. You can just see the notes in the corners of this picture holding the first right panel in place.


On the straight seams, applying the seam is fairly easy. Again, the sticky notes make a simple holder to hold the panel out of the way until the tape is in place.


Curved seams are a bit more tricky. I ended up cutting 5cm-10cm lengths of tape and applying them with 2mm-3mm gaps between them to form the curved seam. Sorry, no pictures of this process are currently available. I'll try to grab a couple when I lay up the left sail.

Once the left sail is laid up, I'll need to start testing the tension and settings for the sewing machine with some scrap. I want to make sure the settings are correct before I start sewing.

OK, eye candy time!

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madhabitz
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« Reply #11 on: November 06, 2011, 03:42 PM »

One suggestion for the templates. Offset printing plates are made from aluminum and are thin enough to cut with a good pair of scissors and since they are metal they will lat a long time and can be used perfectly for hot cutting. With luck you find a printing house where you can get used ones for free.

Ooooooh... good one!
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« Reply #12 on: November 06, 2011, 03:55 PM »

Before I bought a walking foot for a Singer machine I'd check Craig's list for a used Pfaff with dual feed. You should be able to pick one up for $200 or less.
For LE material I use 1" wide .75 oz. nylon. (Its easy to work around curves) Then you can add a little dacron, or cordura, or both, at the stand offs for reinforcement.
Nice thread BTW.  Wink

Denny
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« Reply #13 on: November 06, 2011, 07:06 PM »

I'd check Craig's list for a used Pfaff with dual feed.

Great sewing machine, never had any luck finding one in my area.  Embarrassed
 
Walking foot is a great solution. I'll never sew again with out one  Grin

 
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« Reply #14 on: November 06, 2011, 07:45 PM »

Alrighty then.... last post for the night.

As mentioned in my last post, I now have a picture of how I apply the seam tape on a curved seam. It is fairly easy and I can't imagine it could cause any problems. (Fingers crossed).



Last but not least is a picture of the left sail taped up. As you can see, lighter colors are on top as they should be for the left sail.  Grin
Following my panel chart made it quite easy to place them in the right order and location.


Take a good look at this one, I took it from less than ten feet from the flow!
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