Let’s Go Fly a Kite

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It’s the little things in life that can bring enjoyment. Stopping to smell the roses, watching ducks swimming in a pond, seeing a rainbow, and watching kites flying in the sky. Why not bring a little enjoyment to yourself and others? Let’s make a kite!

I tried making paper kites when I was a kid. We would cut old sheets to use as tails. Sadly, my paper kites never really flew. They usually just bounced along after me on the ground as I ran around the yard. This could be due to poor kite design, lack of wind, or just not knowing what I was doing. Who knows?

In college, I took a fabric design course in which we had to dye fabrics, tie-die fabrics, batik fabrics, and stitch fabrics. After we had finished our tie-die fabrics, the professor gave us instructions to turn our fabric art into a kite. Cool! What was even cooler was that this kite actually flew! The kite flew so well in fact that I didn’t have to run around the yard to try to get it in the air. Wow!

The sled kite that I made is quite simple and inexpensive to make. I think it makes a perfect first kite as it is so simple to get up into the sky. It also rolls up to a nice portable little bundle. So let’s get started!

Finished Sled Kite

Sled Kite

What you will need:

  • newspaper
  • black sharpie marker
  • yardstick
  • tape
  • material (to fit the pattern size you make)(white muslin to tie-dye/or cotton pattern)
  • thread
  • needle
  • scissors
  • thimble
  • straight pins
  • tape measure
  • iron
  • ironing board
  • 2 wood dowel rods size 36″ x 3/16 (cut to size)
  • coping saw
  • pencil
  • small piece of sand paper
  • tie-dye kit (optional)
  • kite string on spool with clip
  • fishing swivel (optional)

The first step is to make a pattern for the kite out of newspaper. Take two pieces of newspaper a tape together to make one large piece. Next take a yardstick and decide how long the kite will be. The number should be easily divisible by 3. I choose 27 inches. Take your marker and mark a line 27 inches. Then cut along this line.

Mark line at 27″
Cut at line

Now that you have this you will need to make a grid on your paper. The grid will be 3 squares by 2 squares. Each square should be the same size. Since I chose 27 inches….3 goes into 27 nine times. I will have six squares that are 9 inches. Cut along outer edge.

Make Grid

Now take your yardstick and place it diagonally on the top left square from bottom to top and draw a line. Then place your yardstick from the top right of the same first square to the bottom right square of the last square of the top row. Draw a line. Cut on these two diagonal lines. This is the kite pattern. The bottom edge should be placed on the fold of the fabric. It will be a mirror image when opened.

Mark diagonal line
Mark second diagonal line
Cut at diagonal lines
labeled kite placement guide

Here comes the creative part! Fabric choice! My suggestion would be something bright and eye-catching. (Pale blue or white will not be exciting in a sky of the same color.) This is where tie-dying comes in….take white muslin and tie-dye the fabric to your liking per box instructions or buy a fabric with a pattern already printed. Such materials to consider would be any light cotton such as a batik print. Once the fabric is chosen, fold the fabric to fit the pattern piece and pin the pattern to fabric with the fold edge (in my case the 27 inches) on the fold of fabric and cut fabric. (Do not cut the edge with fold.) When the fabric is open it will be the entire kite.

Take the fabric and fold over the fabric 1/4″ on one side, press with iron and then fold again to make a 1/2″ hem. Using a slip stitch, hand stitch the side in place. Repeat for all sides of kite leaving a small gap on the ends of the top and bottom to insert wooden dowels.

Slip stitch hem leaving space for dowel rod to be inserted

Cut wooden dowels with coping saw to fit in hem pocket in top and bottom of kite. Sand the cut end of dowel and insert into hem pockets. Tack in place to kite material with thread by using needle to whip thread around the dowel about three times and at three equal distances along the rod.

Cutting dowel rod
Tack dowel in place to kite with thread

Cut a piece of kite string about 2 yards long. Thread one end into the head of a large needle and stitch to farthest side point on kite. Then stitch the other end of the string on the other side of kite and thread through plastic clip,. (If the kite string does not come with a clip/ring you can use a fishing swivel. Attach this to your kite line.

Stitch kite string to farthest point on kite
Thread through plastic clip on kite spool

Find a safe place to fly your kite. This should be away from traffic, power lines, trees, storms, etc. Be sure to pick a windy day. The windier the better. Some places are naturally better for flying kites. Usually places close to the bay or beach are great places to find the perfect wind.

Face away from the way the wind is blowing. Hold the kite in the air by where the strings meet close to the ring. When you feel the kite catch the wind, give it a little more line until you slowly let it go higher and higher. Adjust the line if it does not feel tight enough or begins to drop by reeling the line in a bit.

Have fun and go fly a kite!

(Be sure to send me a picture if you actually make a DIY Sled Kite!)