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Hawaii Travel --> About Hawaii --> Culture --> Lei --> Lei Making --> Flower Lei Making --> How to Make a Hawaiian Fresh Flower Lei

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How to Make a Fresh Flower Lei

Step by instructions for making a traditional, single strand, fresh flower Hawaiian lei. Includes a list of required materials and detailed lei making instructions.

How to Make a Fresh Flower Lei
Photo Credit: Hawaii Tourism Japan

Materials for Making a Lei

Flowers for a Lei
For an adult size lei you will need 40 to 80 flowers, depending on the size of the flowers and how tightly the flowers are strung. Some of the most commonly use lei flowers include plumeria, dendrobium orchids, white ginger, red ginger, pikake, ilima, gardenias, tuberoses, and carnations but many other flowers can also be used. The smaller the flowers the more flowers you will need.

String for a Lei
I like to use waxed dental floss to string a lei but you can also use 8 to 10 pound fishing line or #10 crochet thread. If you use #10 crochet thread you should use a double thickness.

Needle for Stringing a Lei
Professional lei makers use a special needle that was designed for stringing a lei. A lei needle is typically 6 to 12 inches long and it has a point at one end and a hook (instead of an eye) on the other end. You can purchase lei needles in Hawaii or on the Internet but you can also use a carpet needle, a 3 or 4 inch upholstery needle, or any other needle with a medium size eye.

Other Lei Making Materials
-Tape measure
-Felt tip marker
-Clip for one end of the string
-Petroleum jelly
-Water mister
-One gallon zip lock plastic bag (if you're going to store the lei)

Lei Making Instructions

    -Cut piece of dental floss, fishing line, or crochet thread 50 inches long. This will give you a lei that is 40 inches long with 5 inches on each end that you can tie together. If you are using #10 crochet thread cut it to 100 inches long and use a double strand.

    -Use the felt tip pen to mark the string 5 inches from each end.

    -Place a clip on the opposite end of the string from where you will be stringing the flowers

    -If you are using a lei needle, pull the string through the hook of the needle and either hold it back to secure it or use pliers to squeeze the hook closed so it makes an eye. If you are using another type of needle, thread it. Use a single strand if you are using dental floss or fishing line and use a double strand if you are using #10 crochet thread.

    -Remove the stem from each blossom before you string it

    -Slide the needle through the center of each flower. Some lei makers prefer to not to string through the center, but instead prefer to make a new hole in the flower just below the center of the stem.

    -Nest each flower against the previous flower

    -Some lei makers stringing 5 flowers onto the lei needle before pushing them gently to the end of the string. other lei makers recommend sliding flowers down the string one at a time to prevent the flowers from tearing.

    -After stringing all the flowers nest the first and last flowers and tie the string in a square knot, leaving a tail so the lei can be carried without touching the flowers. Remove the tail before presenting the lei to someone.

    -Mist the lei lightly with water.

    -Some lei makers like to tie a pretty ribbon to each end of the lei and tie the ribbon in a bow. This step is optional. Many lei makers prefer to hide the point where the two ends of the lei were joined together.

    -If you need to store the lei, place it loosely in a plastic bag after misting and store it in the vegetable bin of your refrigerator. If the lei gets too cold the flowers will be damaged.
See also:
- Tropical Flower Shops on the Web
- How to Give and Receive a Flower Lei
- Lei Greeting Services in Hawaii
- May Day is Lei Day in Hawaii
- More About the Hawaiian Lei

Related Links
The Culture of Hawaii
Islands of Hawaii
Hawaii for Visitors

Elsewhere on the Web
Photos of Making a Dendromium Orchid Lei
Photos of Making a Plumeria Lei
Photos of Making a Ti Leaf Lei

A NOTE FROM KATHIE: If you have any corrections or updates to the information on this page or if you would like us to add any information or links, please send a message to the email address on our contacts page.

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