Using Sinamay for Hat Making

There as so many choices when it comes to deciding what millinery material to use. Determining the best material for a specific hat style can be confusing. If you want to create lightweight spring and summer hats, sinamay might be just what you’re looking for.

One of the most popular hat making materials (and one of my favorites), sinamay is a natural straw fabric made from abaca fibers. It is dyeable, versatile and strong, so it offers endless millinery possibilities.

Sinamay is widely used for blocking hats and trims, but it wasn’t introduced to the millinery world until the 1990s. It is woven in the Philippines, from the stalks of the abaca tree. Abaca fibers are very strong and long-lasting. For ease of blocking, sinamay is often pre-stiffened during manufacturing. Plus, since it is a natural material, it holds dye very well.

Grades

Available in a variety of grades and weaves, the tightness of the weave will influence your construction choices.

  • A Grade – Also referred to as Pinok Pok, this is an extra fine and tightly woven sinamay with a smoother surface.
  • B Grade – This is a fine sinamay, usually woven in 20 x 20 density. It is strong and ideal for blocking.
  • C Grade – A more loosely woven sinamay, this grade may require additional layers when blocking and is best used for trims or frayed work.
Windowpane Sinamay from Humboldt Haberdashery

Weaves

You can get interesting effects in your designs by working with different weaves of sinamay. These often work best when blocked in combination with a standard variety.

  • Basketweave or Windowpane – Featuring an open-lattice pattern, these are excellent for bias shaping or layering over solid layers. The metallic windowpane sinamay shown above is available from Humboldt Haberdashery.
  • Scrunch or Mat – A unique texture created by pressing the fibers (like felt) instead of weaving them.
  • Lurex-Woven – This variety is interwoven with Lurex, a synthetic shiny fiber, so it has a great shine and reflective qualities.

Sinamay can be found in a huge range of colors and patterns. There are even animal and polka dot prints out there! Or better yet, for a truly bespoke piece, you can dye your sinamay yourself. This will make your work truly unique and allow you to match your client’s apparel perfectly.

Sinamay is such a great natural fabric to work with and, because it is so popular, it is easy to find. Personally, I love working with it because the fiber structure lends itself to freeform and draping work. It is so fun to manipulate and naturally lends itself to all sorts of design ideas.

Sinamay Projects

Click HERE for all Sinamay Projects.

About the Author

Amy Fowler

Amy Fowler is the creator of the bespoke, California-based ‘Millinery by Amy Fowler’ label. In 2014, her love of hat making and desire to expand her skills and studio inspired Amy to start her own millinery supplies business, Humboldt Haberdashery.

Learn to Make Beautiful Hats and Fascinators

HATalk has the largest online library of step-by-step millinery projects in the world. Begin your FREE trial today and get instant access to:

  • All step-by-step millinery projects
  • Hints and tips tutorials
  • A new monthly issue of HATalk e-magazine, a digital publication for hat makers and enthusiasts loaded with great content
  • Access to the entire back issue library of over 160 issues of HATalk e-magazine (download them them all today if you’d like!)

HATalk projects and e-magazines are great for both beginners and expert makers. There is something for everyone and the project library is always growing.

Click HERE to begin your no-risk FREE Trial!

We are sure you will absolutely love being a HATalk subscriber. And, even if you don’t, it won’t cost you anything to find out.

Start My FREE Trial