How to Make Ribbon Leis Step-by-Step

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Satin ribbon is pleated on a string to form the lei's "petals."
Satin ribbon is pleated on a string to form the lei's "petals." (Image: red ribbon v image by Mykola Velychko from Fotolia.com)

Ribbon leis can be made as an inexpensive substitute for fresh flower leis. Homemade ribbon leis make great accessories for luaus, BBQs or Hawaiian-themed parties. Made from non-perishable materials, they will last forever and can be kept as keepsakes for remembering events. Make ribbon leis to give as gifts to friends and family members. Layer two colors of satin ribbon to create a double sided lei with more dimension. Ribbon leis can be made to be worn around the neck, head, wrists or ankles.

Things You'll Need

  • Needle
  • Nylon thread
  • Table clamp
  • 30 yards, 1/2-inch orange satin ribbon
  • 30 yards, 1/2-inch yellow satin ribbon
  • Clothespin

Cut a 90-inch length of nylon thread and insert one end into the eye of a needle. Pull the needle to the center of the thread. Tie the thread ends together in a knot leaving a 2-inch tail. Clamp the tail to a table edge with a table clamp.

Purchase 30 yards of 1/2-inch orange satin ribbon and 30 yards of 1/2-inch yellow satin ribbon at a local craft store. Place one end of each ribbon color together, shiny sides facing out.

Insert the needle through the center of both ribbon layers, 2 inches from the ends. Fold the ribbons over the needle and insert it 1/2 inch from the first point. Continue to fold the ribbons back and forth, pulling the needle through them every 1/2 inch. You should be creating an accordion-like folds on the needle. Once the needle is full of ribbon, slide the ribbon down the string to the knot. Push the ribbon folds tightly together and place a clothespin on the string to hold them in place.

Continue to gather the ribbon in 1/2 inch pleats on the needle. Every time the needle is full, push the ribbon pleats down the length of the thread, and move the clothespin in front to hold them in place. Once the remaining ribbon equals 2 inches, stop threading it onto the needle. Tie a knot in the thread near the pleats to secure them in place.

Hold onto the 2 inches of loose ribbon with one hand and begin twisting the ribbon folds counterclockwise with the other hand. Work your way down the length of the ribbon, twisting the pleats to form whorls on the string. Once you've reached the other end, un-clamp it from the table top. Tie the two loose ribbon ends together in a square knot. Clip the loose threads.

References

  • "Making Ribbon Leis & Other Gifts of Aloha"; Coryn Tanaka and May Masaki; 2002
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