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How to Make a Double Braided Hawaiian Ribbon Lei with Four Strands

Remember when I shared how to make a basic, two strand braided ribbon lei and promised that a tutorial for the more complex, four strand version was forthcoming? Here it is!

Honestly, it’s still fairly simple in the grand scheme of ribbon leis, but it’s complex enough to look special and can be pretty wide when made with ribbon larger than 1/4″. It’s great for occasions like Mother’s Day, graduation, or even weddings. Wouldn’t these be cool as wedding favors? Or even as a make and take project for a summer birthday party?

Braided Four Strand Ribbon Lei Tutorial

Because this lei uses four strands of ribbon, you can us anywhere between one and four different colors. I think two or three look best, but the choice is yours. The example is made with two colors of 3/8″ ribbon. Using 3/8″ ribbon for this project creates a pretty wide finished lei (mine is about 1.5″ across) that shows up really well in photos.

The exact amount of ribbon you need depends on how wide the ribbon is and how long you want your lei to be. Most lei have about a yard of actual braiding, but you can make them longer or shorter. I recommend starting with pieces of ribbon that are at least 6 yards long, Basic satin ribbon is pretty inexpensive – this project is all about the time you put into it, not the cost in dollars. I think it’s better to waste a few feet of ribbon than the hour you put into perfecting the technique and making a lei! Okay, so maybe not a whole hour, but still. Cut your ribbons at least 6 yards long, preferably 7 or even 8.

Once you figure out how to do this four strand braid, it actually isn’t that difficult. Explaining it in words and figuring out exactly where everything goes the first time around…well, that can be a little tricky! Don’t give up, though. Once you figure it out, you will be making these in 15 minutes! Just take your time, look at the pictures, and watch the video clip. =)

Materials needed for four strand braided ribbon lei

  • Four pieces of ribbon, at least 6 yards each. I used 3/8″ satin ribbon, but 1/4″ satin ribbon is a great tool to learn with
  • Four old gift cards, rewards cards you hardly use, etc. (You can use rectangles of cardboard as a substitute, if needed)
  • Four binder clips or quilting Wonder Clips
  • Scissors
  • A lighter, to singe the ends and prevent fraying

spools of satin ribbon

How to make a four strand double braided ribbon lei

1. Prepare your ribbons! Use an old gift card (or something similar) as a bobbin to wind up each piece of ribbon. Wrap the ribbon securely, but don’t pull it super tight around the card or you’ll end up with odd creases! Make sure to leave about a foot of extra un-wound and secure the ribbon with a binder clip or Wonder Clip. Wrap each piece of ribbon around a separate card.

secure ribbon in place with wonder clip

ribbons on bobbin cards

2. Pair off your ribbons. I used two pairs with a light and a dark purple each. These ribbon pairs will be buddies for the rest of the lei! They’ll interact with the other pair, but only ever actually truly work with their ribbon partner.

3. Tie a slip knot in one ribbon from each pair, making sure to leave a good 6-8 inches in tail (or more, if you’d like to tie a fancy bow). This is really important: tie the knots on different colored ribbons. I tied one on a light purple and the other on a dark purple. If you tie both of one color and leave both of the other color loose, your lei won’t look like mine.

tie slip knots

4. Fold over a little bunny ear loop, as if you were making a bow while tying your shoes, and insert this loop through the slipknot of its ribbon partner. Snug the slipknot down. Repeat with the other set.

make a bunny ear with the ribbon

first loops with both pairs of ribbon

5. Now it’s time to get set up for your braid! This step is very important. If you don’t set your ribbons up as shown, your lei probably won’t stay together in one strand.

set up for four strand braid

6. From here on out, it is important to remember you always work with the top loop first. Make a bunny ear loop in the partner ribbon that goes with the top loop, insert it through the loop, and then pull tight. Repeat, repeat, repeat until you reach the end. It is so much easier to share a video instead of a zillion pictures that don’t show the movement, so here it is:

You’ll start to see the pattern develop quickly. Here’s what it looks like on the front:

front of the double braided lei

And the back:

back of the double braided lei

7. Keep going until your lei is as long as you want. On the very last loops, pull the ribbon all the way through instead of leaving a little bunny ear sticking out.

pull ribbon through final loops

8. Tie the ends together and finish with a bow, if that’s your style. Trim the ends and singe them quickly/carefully with a lighter to prevent fraying! Satin ribbon will fray like nobody’s business, so this is a really good idea.

Double Braided Four Strand Ribbon lei Tutorial

9. Gift your beautiful new lei or keep it for yourself. I’m not telling. =)

EDIT: If you’re looking for an even more elaborate lei, I’m excited that I now have full video tutorial for this spiral ribbon lei!

how to make a spiral ribbon lei Skillshare class

It’s a class on Skillshare, and you can read this blog post about the class here. There’s a link for totally free access, so head on over!

Who will you make a lei for?

Natasha

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{ 26 comments… add one }
  • Duni April 16, 2015, 21:51

    So pretty!! The three colour combination is wonderful!
    I’ve never done this before, so I don’t think mine will turn out as accurate as yours 😉

    • Natashalh April 19, 2015, 04:05

      After a little bit of experimenting it really isn’t that difficult! I actually made this one for my sister and gave it to her after her big senior recital yesterday.

  • Marieken April 19, 2015, 23:52

    Looks difficult to make, I love the colour combo you choose for this one!

    • Natashalh April 21, 2015, 15:08

      Thank you! People at my sister’s recital seemed impressed when I gave it to her. I tried telling the it isn’t too difficult, but they didn’t really believe me.

  • Ntina April 29, 2015, 22:28

    great instructions! thank you! it looks amazing!

    • Natashalh April 30, 2015, 05:43

      Thanks so much! I’m already thinking about more variations I can share. =)

  • Ally May 19, 2015, 09:56

    Love to double braided look. I’m definitely going to try it for upcoming graduations. Can you tell me where is a good place to buy the ribbon? Thanks! (:

    • Natashalh May 19, 2015, 10:15

      So glad you like it!

      I usually get ribbon at my local craft store. Look for the satin kind if you want yours to turn out like this! Picot works, too, but make sure not to get the stiff kind. Supply sellers on Etsy usually have nice ribbons, too, and you can sometimes find them on Amazon. I hope that’s helpful!

  • Kevin June 9, 2015, 20:56

    When using 8 yards, how long is the final lei?

    • Natashalh June 9, 2015, 20:59

      it depends on the width of your ribbon and how tightly you braid, but you should be able to make a lei that’s over a yard long if you use 8 yards of ribbon and still have plenty leftover for a bow! I typically use 7 yards for my 36″ leis and it’s perfect with my ribbon and style of braiding, so 8 yards should give you a little more length.

  • jdbjle August 15, 2015, 08:23

    Fabulous I have used these in 3mm ribbons to make wedding good luck horseshoes.

    • Natashalh August 16, 2015, 11:43

      Fantastic! Thanks for stopping by and I hope you enjoy. =)

  • Cindy November 5, 2016, 17:03

    I just got off of an Hawaii cruise ship. They showed me how to do two strings, but I wanted to know how to do more. Of course you go to google. I found you and it’s just what I was looking for thanks.

    • Natashalh November 6, 2016, 08:15

      Neat! I hope you had fun and thanks for stopping by. =)

  • Jane February 18, 2017, 17:40

    Like Cindy, I learned how to do the 2 ribbon lei on a cruise ship last Fall. Our ladies group is going to a Hawaiian event in TN in June, so I was looking for a lei that had more to it. I viewed several tutorials on 4 ribbon ribbon leis and I hit the jackpot with yours! Especially, using the cards and clips…. Thanks!

    • Natashalh February 18, 2017, 20:39

      Fantastic! So happy to be of help. =) Tennessee is a beautiful place – I lived in East Tennessee for a couple of years growing up. Hope you have a fantastic event and thank you for commenting!

  • Theresa Dopp April 4, 2017, 12:26

    Im so stoked that I finally got the hang of this! Your tutorial was the most helpful of the three I watched. Yours was the third the lucky charm and I suspect its because you were the most clear on how to set up the ribbons. Once you have the ribbons set up correctly the weaving comes natural! Thanks again and I cant tell you how excited I am that I nailed this!

    • Natashalh April 4, 2017, 15:09

      Thank you! I’m so glad you enjoyed and thank you for letting me know!!

  • Pamela Baker May 10, 2017, 11:56

    Love your tutorials on making the different lei’s. I especially love the 4-ribbon lei. Can’t wait to try this one. Taking for sharing another interesting Blog!

    • Natashalh May 10, 2017, 11:58

      I think the 4 ribbon is my favorite, too. It’s easy, but lovely, and you can make it even more colorful by layering a narrower ribbon on top of one of the wider ribbons and treating them as one!

  • Heather May 10, 2017, 18:01

    Thank you so much! Used this to make my handfasting ribbon for my wedding next week! Easy peasy once you get the hang of it (15 minutes or so)!

    • Natashalh May 10, 2017, 18:28

      Awesome! What a need hand fasting cord idea. I hope you have a beautiful day wedding!

  • Sarah May 13, 2017, 06:43

    I bought 5/8 ribbon, do you think that’s going to be too wide? Or will it just make the lei thicker?

  • Cathy Singh May 26, 2017, 11:43

    Thanks for the tutorial! Took me a few tries to get the hang of it but once I understood how to do it it went smoothly! My graduate will be thrilled to wear this tomorrow!

    I have also followed your tutorial for the two strand lei before and those came out great on the first try!

    • Natashalh May 26, 2017, 15:31

      So glad you got everything to turn out! This design is a bit more complicated than the two strand, but it’s lovely. =)

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