single strand plumeria and carnation lei

Making a lei is simple, fun and rewarding. Especially when you give it to a loved one or somebody that loves and respects the Hawaiian culture. The best lei is the one that you make from materials in your own backyard.

I suggest that when making a lei for the first time, you start with a simple single strand lei. You will need a strong string about 90 inches long. Carpet thread or dental floss work well for making the best lei. This will be used for stringing your flowers, leaves or whatever you are going to use. I found that bougainvillea work well and make a colorful lei. Although if you want a fragrant lei bougainvillea does not work well because the blooms have no smell. If you are going to be making a lei that is a fragrant lei, roses and gardenias work well. Fragrant leis seem to be the best leis, because they are not only beautiful to look at, they also smell wonderful.

In Hawaii a steel lei needle is used. The lei needles are 12-18” in length. You can use any large needle. Thread the needle so that the 90” string is centered and tie a large knot with the open ends about 2 inches from the end. Tie a large knot so the flowers will not slide off. Now your doubled string should be about 45 inches long. You will need about 40 - 50 flower blossoms to make your lei. Start by pushing the needle through the center of the flower from front to back. Continue adding flowers until the needle is full. Once the needle is full, gently slide the flowers down the string and continue adding more flowers. Continue adding and sliding keeping the flowers evenly spaced until the string is almost full. Leave about 3 inches and then remove the needle. Now tie the two ends together and you have a beautiful fresh fragrant lei.


The Haku lei is very beautiful for wearing as a head lei, on the head or around a hat. This style requires that flowers and leaves of every kind be woven together. The base is made from banana leaf, but you can use a piece of fabric. Whatever you use as a base should be about 28 inches long and about 1 inch wide. You need a sturdy twine or carpet thread to wrap the leaves and flowers onto the base. Take some bits of fern, leaves and a few small flowers and lie them on your base toward one end. Wrap the twine around it twice to secure it. Now add more overlapping the stems of the first group. Keep adding until the lei fits you head or hat. Now you have a beautiful Haku Lei.

girl with haku lei around her head

Return From Making A Lei To History Of The Hawaiian Lei

Home Page

Copyright 2007