Sewing Needles

In article <9303161050.A20735@outback.mcc.com>, bausman@mcc.com (Marvin Bausman) writes:
>I am very new to building my own stunt kites, having just
>finished my first one (one of the Hang'em High Kits).  I was
>relatively pleased with the outcome, but definitely learned
>a lot.

Congratulations. Welcome to the club. Now you won't have to 
budget money for buying kites, you will have to budget time to 
make kites. I don't know which is worse... ;-) 

>Question 1: The instructions called out using a #14
>standard point needle, which I did.  My impressions are that
>this worked well with the ripstop for the sail, but that it
>did not work as well with the dacron used to reinforce the
>leading edge.  I suspect I would have been better off with a
>smaller needle.  I would like to hear what the convential
>wisdom is on needle sizes.

I use a #14 needle for most sewing, including sewing the 
dacron leading edge and reinforcements. When I sew the nose 
piece on, which is often seat belt material, I might change to a 
#16 needle. I used to use a #11 or a #12 needle on ripstop, but 
found changing between the smaller needle and the #14 to be 
time consuming. 

>Question 2: I noticed on the other kites I own (i.e. ones
>that I purchased commercially sewn) that a "stitched zig-zag
>stitch is used frequently, especially when sewing on the
>leading edge reinforcement.  My wife's machine can not do a
>"stitched zig-zag", so I am stuck using a plain zig-zag
>stitch.  Is this all that detrimental in the long run
>strength and reliability of the construction?

Theoretically a zig-zag is a little stronger than a straight stitch. 
Usually commercial kite makers use a zig-zag because it is a 
slightly crooked zig-zag is hard to distinguish form a straight 
zig-zag. I believe that the difference in strength is not worth 
worrying about. 

I use a decorative stitch to attach the leading edge, often in a 
contrasting color thread. Strength is not that critical on this 

>Question 3: What is the best source of information (i.e.
>probably talking a book) for these type of details about
>kite construction.

Bill Tyrell wrote an article in Kite Lines titled, "Mastering 
Nylon". You can get reprints of this article from Kite Lines, or 
from Bill (The Kitestuff Co., also known as, The Fabric Lady). 
This answers a lot of questions about dealing with nylon. --

Marty Sasaki

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