Friday, April 15, 2011

Week 15: Lei Making - Kui Style

Fresh from a trip to Hawaii, our projects this week and next week will revolve around lei making. While in Maui, I learned to make two different kinds of leis: a threaded kind, called kui style, and a braided kind, called haku style. This week's project is a kui-style lei. Here's how it looks:

Okay, it would be more authentic-looking with plumeria blossoms, and in fact, stringing the carnations wasn't so easy, because they have so many petals they tended to fall apart. But this carnation lei proves that you can make a lei from just about any flower you can string a needle through.

What you need

  • lei needle
  • 36 flowers of your choice - carnation heads, plumeria blossoms, or whatever you may have available
  • strong thread or dental floss 

What you need, from top to bottom: thread, lei needle, carnation heads
Here's a closer look at the lei needle. It's a long needle with a hook at the end that you hook the thread through. Leave a few inches of thread hanging after hooking it onto the needle.
Push the needle through the bottom of the flower and out the top. Then gently push the flower down the needle and onto the thread. Once it's off the needle, pull on the thread rather than the needle to push it down till it's a couple inches from the bottom.
Continue threading and pushing the flowers down the thread, pushing them close together. 
If the thread frays, as it tends to do when hooked onto the needle, cut off the frayed part and re-thread - cut an extra long piece of thread for your lei to leave room for fraying. When you're done, double-knot the ends and cut off the excess thread. And, as the instructor at the Kaanapali Beach Hotel told us, think good thoughts while making your lei, and the lei will come out as smooth and beautiful as your thoughts.


  1. How fun! Looks like you had a creative vacation...

  2. It was a fun project (and vacation!). I've always been curious about how to make leis -- it's easier than I thought! The lei needle is really the only unusual item here - but I'm wondering if a long needle might work just as well.