Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Lei Making in Hawaii

**This tutorial is intended for personal use only.**

It is lei making time here in the islands and the store shelves are bulging with supplies. The months prior to Lei Day and graduation is when you will find lei making enthusiasts hard at work.

In the last decade or two, lei made from ribbon, rattail cord, and yarn have exploded onto the scene. Although islanders have made lei using these materials before, the resurgence of interest in these materials brought out new design and lei like no one had seen before. They became very popular, and with it, promoted the writing of many innovative lei making how-to books.

Today, lei are made from almost any medium you can think of. This is the time of year when creativity abounds. It is always fun to create unique lei, perhaps something new that has never been seen before.

When pulled back to expose it's foundation, you can see that this lei was made from grosgrain ribbon and several colors of eyelash yarn.

Local nuts and berries continue to be popular lei making material. The kukui nut lei is quite masculine and is often worn by males.

There are so many fabulous artificial lei designs that mimic fresh flowers. The best part of having an everlasting lei is that you are left with a meaningful momento of the occasion and one that you can wear over and over again.

I sometimes give a fresh flower lei to go along with an artificial one because there really isn't anything better than the sweet smell of fresh flowers around your neck.

This is a fresh cigar flower lei made from over 2000 flowers from the Cupea Ignea shrub.

I would like to share a very basic ribbon lei design, one that mimics a double carnation with roses. This is a very feminine lei and is perfect for a young female.

You will need fifteen, 10-yard spools of 1/4-inch ribbon plus several more yards of a contrasting color for the bow. You will also need twenty, 3/4" paper roses, a ruler, pen, sewing needle, and quilting thread.

Remove the ribbon from the spool. Lightly tap the ribbon with the tip of a ball-point pen at 2-inch intervals. Repeat this for all 15 rolls. This is the mark that you will be following when assembling the lei.

I find that marking all my ribbon prior to sewing is very time efficient.

To prepare the roses, sew through the base of 4 roses and tie the threads together to form a ring. You will need 5 rings consisting of 4 roses each.

Thread your needle with a double strand of quilting thread measuring approximately 55-inches in length. Place a knot at the end of the thread.

Take the first bundle of ribbon and cut it in half making two 5 yard pieces. Set one aside for use in the last segment. Begin the first segment by taking a running stitch in and out of the 5-yard piece of ribbon, using the markings as your guide. (Place your needle down through one marking and up through the next.)

Push the ribbon to the end of the thread, stopping 4 inches from the knot. Be sure to really pack the ribbon close together. Failure to do this may leave gaps of bare thread once the ribbon settles. Add another 10 yards of ribbon in the same manner.

Once you have 15 yards of ribbon on the thread, add a ring of roses. Catch the base of one of the roses with the needle as you pull the needle through the center of the ring. This will secure the roses and will eliminate shifting.

The next 4 segments each have 30 yards of ribbon followed by a ring of roses. The sixth and final segment consists of 15 yards of ribbon.

Once you have completed adding all of the ribbon and roses, tie the lei together with a secure knot. Adding a small drop of fabric or crazy glue to the knot will prevent it from coming apart. Clip off any extra thread.

Tie a pretty bow over the knot and add some beads to the ribbon tails if you'd like.

A lovely lei for a special occasion.



sweetiepie said...

Lettie, thank your for sharing the information about your lei customs and your fantastic tutorial. Your lei is beautiful.

I think I would like a fresh flower lei also. I love the smell of flowers.

Take care.

Loralynn said...

How cool! Thank you so much for sharing how to make this lei!

Crafty Girl Creations said...

Thank you for sharing this technique for making these!!

canuckquilter said...

We lived in Hawaii for two years while my husband was a graduate student at UH. Leis are a favourite memory. Thanks for sharing one that will keep.

JG said...

A few years ago when my hubby & I visited Hawaii we brought back to MA a kukui nut lei. I used it as part of a wall decoration I made to remind us of our great trip to your beautiful island.

Leis are so pretty!

Suze said...

Beautiful lei, I like the extra embellishments. I have not tried this particular style. I didn't realize that it takes 10 spools of 1/4" ribbon. I usually stick to the simpler ones that use less ribbon or even fuzzy yarn. The hardest one I made was the satin lei...that took me forever! I guess I'd better get started if I hope to make enough in time for graduation this year. Thanks for the tutorial and the reminder. : )

Kim D. said...

What a beautiful leil, thanks for sharing your design with us. I bet you could use real flowers as well and just let them dry. I always love the fresh flower lei's when I come to Hawaii, they always smell so good. Have a lovely week.

Annieofbluegables said...

Oh Lettie! What a beautiful tutorial! We had a sweet woman named Mele from Samoa who made leis for every graduate in her town, every year, which was 5 miles from my town, so our children were in the same high school. And because I was her friend, she made leis for my 6 children as well. I provided the silk flowers and she made leis. I still cherish those leis. She has moved to Hawaii, so she is back in her comfort zone and I miss her dearly. Thanks for the wonderful reminder of my sweet Mele and the wonderful tutorial. I didn't realize how many yards of ribbon goes into one of those!!!

Renata Mafra said...

Dear Lettie

One day I will know your city to get around having one of these. Its name is Law? In my language translation of the Lei is Law, and that I would call a necklace.
Congratulations, very beatiful!

Renata Mafra

Rachel@oneprettything.com said...

Wow, I've never seen a ribbon lei like this before. I love it- it's gorgeous! Thanks so much for sharing the how-to, I'll be linking.

Brenda is SO Blessed said...

thanks for sharing that---It is soooo beautiful. I have never been to any islands I am in land locked Tennessee but that is sure beautiful

Stephanie D said...

It's beautiful! But it looks so time-consuming! Not sure I'd have the patience for it myself, so I'm glad you do!

Anna said...

Wow, this is beautiful!

BumbleVee said...

I dunno.....this is a looootttt of ribbon.... and I bet most of these lei just end up in the garbage don't they? .... now somebody needs to begin a recycling effort to recollect, reuse and recycle these things....

BumbleVee said...

hey Arlette.....thanks for stopping in and clarifying about the lei.... It's great that people care for them and pass them on or recycle them....

Pratima Kapoor said...

that is so beautiful. thks for the tutorial of lei. i would like to try it out.

Carla said...

Very pretty. I made one for a luau a couple of weeks ago. I just substituted red and green ribbon to make it look like flowers. Thank you for the tute.

Unknown said...

If someone made me one I would treasure it and never throw it away. I would love to make one. Lots of times you can find that size of ribbon rolls on sale for a very good price.

**CrEaTiNgWiThAlOhA** said...

So beautiful i wish i found your site before graduation....TFS...hugs liann

Old-School-Techie said...

I am thinking of doing this for my daughter's graduation in a month. How many hours does it take? I was planning on doing it in evenings while I'm watching TV - about 2 hours per night.