Tuesday, May 10, 2011

DIY Ribbon Lei

Sak's brother will soon be graduating (again).  This time for his Masters!

So I'm thinking - time for me to act like a respectable member of this Hawaiian family. I will make my brother-in-law a lei for his graduation!
Cousin-in-law at his graduation. This is what an appropriate amount of leis looks like. No neck allowed!
I bought some yellow ribbon, and since Michael's did not have the maroon-red color that makes up USC's colors, so solid yellow it would have to be.

Sak and I had bought ribbon lei craft books on a past trip to Hawaii, but since my mom has them, I just had to figure it out on my own. Sak wouldn't answer the question of whether he'd made any before, and ran off to his cave with Pokemon White, never to be seen again.

I started by adding a small bead to the end of a long piece of thread, to serve as an anchor.

Then I weaved the ribbon back and forth on my needle, creating loops.

But the loops weren't consistent in size at all, and looked lame.

So to adjust my method and get even loops, I pulled the ribbon out the length of the needle before poking it through. That way each loop was the length of the needle, consistent as well mixed pudding!

Three spools of ribbon later, I'm not done.  Oops. Back to the store I go.
This is one spool length.
Two more spools does the trick, and I have a nice fluffy yellow ribbon lei for Sak's brother.

And after digging around my scraps, I even found a small bit of maroon ribbon to finish it off.

Total cost was about $2.50, since each spool was only 50 cents. Gotta love it!

This was a pretty relaxing project, and I think I'll make some more for a few other graduations I'll attend in the coming month.  Maybe with multiple ribbon colors, that would be nice!

Did you have a lei or two (or forty) at your graduation? 


  1. That's so cute! I've never heard of this tradition, but I like it!

  2. I mean. I know you have a big girl engineering job that pays you tons of money so you can make your mortgage payments on time and keep Sak happy.


    You should totally go into business making these. I love them. Open an Etsy shop... PLEASE!

  3. that is beautiful. and i love the lei overload. oh my gosh i want one.

  4. "...no neck allowed". Freaking awesome! The lei you made is beautiful!

  5. this is so pretty and sooo much cheaper than the orchid ones. And helloo.. last longer!

  6. What?! You just poke a needle through some ribbon and you make that?!?!?! Where's the nearest Michaels?!?!

  7. I looooove this ribbon lei!!! Thanks for posting the how-to! I had an almost-no-neck lei situation for my college graduation, I think I had 4, but one of them was gigantic!!

  8. That kinda seems like a lot of work but turns out so so pretty! I didn't know that's how you make a lei. What a good SIL!

  9. Replies
    1. Just start with two colored ribbons and do a couple loops of one color, then a couple loops of the other, again and again! :)

    2. Did you cut the ribbon for each color?

    3. Did you cut the ribbon for each color?

    4. Nope, no cutting needed. I posted a follow-up post showing the two-color ribbon here (since it is kinda confusing without pictures): http://www.sakacon.com/2012/05/diy-ribbon-lei-v11.html

      hope that helps!

    5. THANK YOU THANK YOU! I love how it looks so easy! Yes, I need step by step pictures! hehe! Thanks again! I will be making this for my niece!

  10. what size ribbon and needle did you use or does it matter?

    1. I don't think it matters, but I used 1/4 inch ribbon and a standard embroidery needle. Hope that helps!

  11. Newbie here :) I'm going to attempt to do this in secret in the next two days (my husband is graduating this Saturday!). What kind of thread did you use? It looks rather thick, or is it just doubled? Thank you for the awesome idea!

    1. Hi there! I used plain sewing thread, but if you want a nice sturdy lei, doubled thread or embroidery floss would probably work well. Have fun!

  12. How long was each spool of ribbon? Thank you for the great idea!

    1. Each spool was 10 yards :) happy crafting!

    2. Hi, thank you for the wonderful tutorial on this lei. I used 6 spools of 18 yds each and I'm not even close to being done. The loops aren't big either. It's pretty though, but, am I doing something wrong? I'll need 6 more spools to finish and I'm making it for my 4 year old, which means it won't be that long. HELP!! :)

      Thank you

  13. Do you tie the ends together when done?

    1. Yes, just pull the needle through the bead at the end and knot the threads together a couple times!

  14. where were you able to get ribbon spools for 50 cents?

    1. Michael's! They have a section with 50 cent 1/4 inch thick ribbon, regular price :)

  15. How long did this take you? (:

    1. A few hours! It goes by pretty quickly once you get the hang of it :) I suggest making it while watching tv..hahah!

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  60. Thanks so much. I did a different technique for the last time my son left for college. It didn't turn out as nicely and took more time than this. I ran out of ribbon, too, but will do something different around his neck :) (I'm in Hawaii and there's no Michael's here & certainly no 50 cent ribbon!) Anyway, I used "gold" and red because he goes to USC. I will make a "real" one next time using this technique and not skimp but just need something to put on him at the airport when he leaves (and this 18 year old young man takes his lei off immediately!). Thanks so much!!! Aloha.

  61. I soooooo needed this tutorial today for a lei I'm wanting to make for a retiring teacher. I wanted to make a carnation one BUT it's $30 per dozen…this ribbon lei will be much cheaper AND she can keep it ~ WIN WIN!!

  62. How did you tie the ends together?

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  66. how much ribbon was on the spools you used?

  67. You make it look so easy! But, I bet if i try, it will end up just end up looking like a big-o-pile of knotted up ribbon..lol (btw was going through your comments...whats up with all the spam? I bet their job must suck. LoL)

  68. Thank you! Found this and started making a lei right away. So easy, inexpensive & fun!


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