How to Make a Ribbon Lei with 3 Colors

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In Hawai’i it’s a tradition to give every graduate, both high school and college graduates, a lei. Leis are made from all kinds of materials: flowers, leaves, vines, yarn, eyelash yarn, candy, money and ribbon. Last week I shared my tutorial on how to make a ribbon lei tutorial (including a video tutorial). This week I’d like to show you how to make a ribbon lei with 3 colors. You can make a one-strand 3 color ribbon lei for $1.50 about and in about 30 minutes. 

Dark and light blue  ribbon lei on white wood table

The traditional ribbon lei is made in the graduate’s school colors. Many school have three colors and sometimes you want to soften the combination of the two school colors with the addition of a third color. If you look at the combination of black and purple in my how to make a ribbon lei tutorial, you’ll see why I wanted to lessen the harsh color combination of purple and black by adding white to the ribbon lei. Learning how to make a ribbon lei with 3 colors offers you additional creative options. 

How to Make Graduation Leis:

How to Make a Ribbon Lei with 3 Colors

3 spools of ribbon in dark blue, light blue and white.

You’ll start with three spools of ribbon from your local craft store or big box store. You want 10 to 12 yards lengths of ribbon in each color. Two spools of ribbon needs to be 1/4 inch wide and the third needs to be 1/8 inch wide. You can find these spools of ribbon for about $.50 each.

Dark blue ribbon folded in half next to white and light blue ribbons folded in half.

Find the middle point of each strand of ribbon and crease it. (You can see my tip for a quick way to find the mid-point of the ribbon in my How to Make A Ribbon Lei tutorial). 

Two hands holding blue ribbon loop through white ribbon loop.

Place the thin ribbon on top of one of the wider ribbons. Slip one ribbon, ribbon 2 (the dark blue ribbon), through the other ribbon, ribbon 1 (the white and light blue ribbon).

Two hands holding loops of ribbon.

Holding the base of the two ribbons together, make a loop of ribbon 1 and pass it through ribbon 2. Pull ribbon 2 tight, but not so tight that it makes the ribbon buckle. You want the ribbons to be woven tightly together and to lay smooth at the same time.

Two hands holding ribbon loops of lei.

Now make a loop of ribbon 2 and pass it through ribbon 1. Pull ribbon 1 tight.

End of ribbon lei with dark blue loop.

Continue the weaving pattern. Take your time to keep all the ribbons from twisting. You want to straighten the ribbons so that your final woven pattern is uniform and smooth. 

Dark blue ribbon end through light blue ribbon with red arrow overlay.

When you get to the end of the ribbons, pass the end of the shortest ribbon tail through the final loop and pull tight. 

Ribbon ends tied closed in knot

Knot the two ribbon tails securely together. Trim the ribbon tails close to the knot. 

3 color ribbon with needle and thread to sew closed the lei

Sew the ribbon lei closed covering the knotted end with the finished end. 

Sideview of braided lei with blue, light blue and white ribbon.

Add a bow to cover the joined ends of the lei. 

Multiple colors of blue lei lying next to three blue ribbon leis.

You can present a single strand of this three color ribbon lei or you can give a traditional three strand lei of this ribbon lei with three colors to your favorite graduate.  

collage of 5 different DIY leis

More than 9 DIY Lei Tutorials – these are my favorite lei making instructions that I’m sharing with you.

Dark blue, light blue and white ribbon lei with text overlay

Now that you know how to make a ribbon lei with three colors, there’s no end to the creative combinations of ribbon leis you can create. 

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  1. Great tutorial! Thank you! I am having some trouble attaching my origami money flowers to the lei. Do you have any suggestions? I used florist wire to tie the bills together….

    1. I use ribbon to attach mine, but I think you should be able to wrap the wire around the ribbon lei and twist it in the back. Then weave the ends of the wire into the back of the lei to hide them. I’d love to see a photo when you’re done, Jessica!

    1. Yes, I’ve used 3/4 inch ribbon for a 2 color lei and it turned out well, so you should work just fine for a 3 color ribbon lei.

        1. The finished lei should be around 40 inches, but you can make it longer for a taller person. And open lei should be about 56 – 64 inches long depending on the height of the person. Have fun making leis!

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