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Tutorial for a Tricolor Braided Ribbon Lei with Picot

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Nothing can compare with the beauty of an elaborate, handmade floral lei (don’t take my word for it – check out Wandering Malia’s post basic ribbon lei, but with a couple extra pieces of ribbon.

My husband is now on shore tour (yay!), but when his boat got home from deployment last fall members of the FRG made ribbon lei in the boat’s color for every single sailor. Wow! Even though they’re fairly quick to make, that was a time commitment. Ribbon lei like this are great for situations where you need a lot of lei, need them to last, and don’t want to risk staining someone’s dress uniform/clothes/gown/etc (I’ve heard ti leaves stain dress whites – eek!). I used a narrow picot ribbon for my accent pieces (picot is the ribbon with little loops on the outside, in case you aren’t familiar), but you can use a narrow plain satin ribbon, instead.

How to Make a Tricolor Braided Ribbon Lei

Materials needed to make a tricolor braided ribbon lei:

  • 10-12 yards of a 3/8″ wide plain satin ribbon, cut into two 5-6 yard pieces
  • 10-12 yards of 3/16″ or 1/4″ picot or plain satin ribbon, either two 5-6 yard pieces of two different colors or two pieces of the same color

That’s it! You may also want small binder clips, paper clips, or quilting Wonder Clips to hold the ribbon in a loose coil, but it isn’t mandatory.

ribon for braided ribbon lei

Pair up your plain ribbon and picot. You’ll be braiding with the picot lying along the “shiny”/”smooth” side of the satin ribbon, like this:

place tricot on top of plain ribbon

Take one set of ribbons and loop them into a slip knot. Leave a tail that’s at least 1 foot long so you can tie the lei into a loop once you’re finished braiding! You want the picot to be on the satin ribbon’s smooth side on the working end of your ribbons (the end leading to 5-6 yards of ribbon you’ll be braiding with). In the pictured example, this is the set of ribbons with the blue picot and is referred to at Set 1.

tie a slip knot

Place the second piece of picot along the smooth side of the second piece of satin ribbon, move about a foot away from one end, and simply fold the ribbons over to form a loop. This is with white picot in the example and is referred to as Set 2. Insert this loop through the slip knot in Set 1, as shown.

form a loop

Using the working end of ribbon Set 1, form a loop, making sure the picot is on the outside, and insert it through the loop in Set 2.

second loop_

Pull on the ribbons in Set 2 to close the loop, as shown. You want the ribbon loops to be snug, but not so tight they cause puckering.

tighten the ribbons

Now you have a little loop like a rabbit ear made from the ribbons in Set 1 sticking up, so you just repeat the process outlined above! Make a loop with the ribbons in Set 2 and insert it through the loop in Set 1. Snug the Set 1 ribbons down.

braiding the ribbon lei

That is all there is to it! Just keep making loops and snugging them down.

braiding the tricolor ribbon lei
braiding the tricolor ribbon lei-2

Keep going until the lei is about 3 feet long and/or you have about a foot of ribbon left. To bind off the end, pull the tail of the ribbons all the way through on the very last loop.

Before tying the ribbons together to form a loop, decide which side you’d like facing out. You can either have the side you’ve been looking at while making your loops:

braided ribbon lei

Or the “back” side:

tricolor braided ribbon lei

I think this side is prettier when making a tricolor ribbon lei, but the choice is yours!

Once you’ve picked a side, tie all four tail ends together to form a closed loop. I like to tie a square knot then a simple bow. You can also make a separate, more elaborate bow and tie it in place.

tie a square knot

And there you have it! A simple, but pretty tricolor braided ribbon lei.

braided ribbon lei

If you’d like to see the process in motion, I have a quick YouTube clip that shows how to form and tighten the loops. The demonstration is with two pieces of ribbon, but the process is exactly the same.

Sort of unrelated – I think one of the neatest ways I’ve seen an ‘artificial’ lei used was by a lady who lived near me in Virginia. She was Hawaiian and she’d wear a lei either over her shoulders or in her hair every single day when she walked her dog. It helped remind her of home while she was living so far away and I loved seeing her when I was out with my dogs. {{As a side note, it turns out SE Virginia was too far away from ‘home’ for me to deal with! I got cold and moved back to South Carolina when I met a Miami Cuban and eventually moved to Hawaii with him. Cuba is on the same latitude as Hawaii and Charleston, SC is the furthest north he’s ever really lived, apart from a few months in the NE for training. One day we’re going to have to move somewhere colder and it’s going to be a trial.}}

No matter where in the world you are, I hope you enjoy this tricolor braided ribbon lei tutorial and have fun creating custom ribbon lei! Also, I hope you take a minute to stop by Day 10 of the Daily Gratitude Challenge!

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{ 12 comments… add one }
  • Jessica smith May 20, 2016, 06:10

    I cannot find yards of ribbon that come in that length anywhere! I’ve looked at three different stores! Where do you find your ribbon that comes in 10-12 yards?

    • Natashalh May 20, 2016, 06:59

      Long lengths of ribbon like this are almost all the local craft store has (in terms of ribbon). I know the ribbon isn’t exactly the same, but a lot of fabric stores do sell trims and ribbons by the yard, so that might be a place to look. Also, you could try looking for ribbon or floral supply stores. If you can’t find long lengths, you could always try linking a couple shorter spools together with a couple quick stitches, fabric glue, or even hot glue. =)

  • D. Renée Wilson April 25, 2016, 05:36

    Wow! That is amazing. Your talents have no end, Natasha. This is so beautiful!

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