Hi-flier replica kites: "how-we-do-it"

click on the pictures if you want to see a larger image...

We start these replica kites by finding a picture of an old Hi-Flier kite or by using an actual kite. Pictures must be straight on, reasonably clear, fairly large, and, of course, the complete picture. Sometimes we are lucky enough to find a nice shot of the entire kite plus several close-ups. We save them all. The close-ups are good for reference. If we start with the actual kite, we use a digital camera and shoot the picture straight down from up above the kite. Close-ups aren't necessary as we have the kite itself for reference. Into the computer the picture goes.

The next step is to clean up the picture using a paint program such as Adobe PhotoDeluxe or Paint Shop Pro. Eventually the picture becomes a black and white line drawing. Bob usually does this work. It requires patience and many hours.

computer work
We print the drawing onto a transparency. Next step is to enlarge the pattern to full size. We tape paper or fabric on a wall in our garage. You need a large blank, smooth wall. The garage works for us and also is fairly dark even in the daytime. We have used paper for this step as well as the ripstop nylon fabric which will be the actual kite. Drawing directly onto the fabric saves the expense of the paper and the time of transferring the design twice. Drawing onto paper allows you to clean up the drawing. This is important if your wall has any texturing on it! Plus you can reverse it onto the fabric. We have a full sized template of the finished kite for our guide when positioning the design and getting it to be the right size. Drafting patterns is again Bob's department as a general rule. I trim excess paper. paper.jpg (45255 bytes)
paper pattern
Transfer the drawing to the fabric is the next step. I do this by taping both the paper and the fabric to our sliding glass door and use a pencil which I know can be erased. I trace the design in reverse onto the fabric. paperfabric1.jpg (33475 bytes) paper to fabric
Next comes the layering of the fabric colors, the sewing, and the back cutting. I use a pretty standard reverse appliqué method. See Charmayne. See Charmayne sew. See Charmayne sew and sew and sew. A quick appliqué project can take 4 hours. This one took a couple of days from start to "ready for reinforcements". Some take weeks. This process is long but actually not hard at all. I listen to a lot of books on tape! sewing and sewing cutting.jpg (43130 bytes)
Now you see the skin cut to size and shape, ready for reinforcements, loops, pockets, sleeves, and whatever it will take to get it ready for the rods and bridles. 

Bob takes over and will stick it, add the bridle lines and give it a test fly in our driveway. Then it's off to the beach......! 

ready for reinforcements out in the driveway...will it go up?


Below are 2 of the original kites and our replicas.
The original paper kite. Our 5' replica.
The original paper kite. Our 5' replica.

There are still a couple more old Hi-Flier/Top Flites designs we'd like to build. It has been a fun project and is so great to see the "old" kites in the sky again.

    back to 2kiters.com  back to the Hi-Flier page