A lei is originally a Hawaiian necklace made of fresh flowers, usually given to a special person as a present. It is a symbol of friendship and love. Now, it is usually given as a “welcome gift”, especially to those visiting Hawaii. It is also associated with Hawaiian themed parties. Since making a lei from fresh flowers is no longer practical in other parts of the world, silk leis have become a convenient replica. It is as attractive as the original fresh flower lei but cheaper to make and can last a long time. It can be stored and reused on another occasion.
In making your own lei, you will need a string – either a crochet thread or a fishing line made of nylon, a needle, silk flowers – preferably orchids, hibiscus or carnations, scissors, beads, ribbons and other necklace charms. Follow these simple steps in making your own silk lei:
- Buy silk flowers from craft stores. You may opt to make a colorful lei, or just a single color. For different colors, choose flowers of same sizes. You may be buying flowers that are attached to stems and leaves. This is okay. You can separate them later. You can make use of the leaves as additional accent on your lei.
- Separate each flower from the bunch. If the flowers have been taken from an artificial bouquet, you may have to cut them from the stem. Some artificial flowers can just be pulled out from their stem, leaving a hole in the middle. For others that do not have a hole in the middle, you may have to cut out the plastic base of the flower, or pierce the needle trough it. If the plastic base is too thick, you can also pluck the petals instead, and reassemble them by stitching them together. Also cut the leaves from the stem. The left over stem will no longer be used and can be discarded.
- Put a thread on a needle. Use around 30 inches of thread. You may adjust the length depending on the person’s height.
- Tie a thick knot at the end of the thread to hold the silk flowers and beads you will be placing on the thread.
- Pierce the silk flowers with the needle and push the flowers through the thread until they reach the knot at the end of the thread. Depending on the pattern that you like for your lei, add more flowers and leaves until the thread is full. You may also place beads in between each flower or after each set of flowers and leaves. You may also use only silk flowers and no other decorative items.
- After filling the thread with flowers, remove the needle and tie the ends of the thread together. You may now wear the lei to see how it looks.
Aside from a necklace, you can also do this to make bracelets, anklets and head garlands. Instead of crochet thread or nylon thread, use elastic thread for making bracelet and anklets. You may also design it in a way that you can tie and untie the ends when you wear the bracelet and anklet.