Wednesday, 13 May 2015

The wonders of sinamay

Sinamay is one of the most popular hat making material used around the world. It is made from fibers from an Abaca tree that is found in the Philippines. Abaca fibers are much stronger than silk or cotton and are woven together to make sinamay. As it is a natural material it is firm, can hold its shape well and can when dyed hold colour too.
Making it available in a huge variety of bright colours.

It has been in demand since it started to be exported from the Philippines in 1850 and throughout the 19th century. Abaca fibers were one of the highest exports in demand at the time along with tobacco and sugar.

Abaca fibers were originally used to make rope, but now is commonly used in carpets and furniture, bags and clothing and of course millinery. 
Abaca tree
Abaca fibers
Sinamay is so popular with milliners and here at Hat Therapy we use it as it can be molded into almost any shape. We commonly block ours on to various hat blocks and also other interesting and unique shapes we can find such as bowls, dishes and vases. We block a shape by steaming the sinamay with a Jiffy Steamer and stretching the fibers over the block then pining it down. Once the fibers have been left to dry and the sinamay is taken off the block it keeps its new shape and is ready to be made into a hat and or trim.

We also love experimenting with colour combinations by layering up sheets of sinamay and ironing them to trap the fibers together, the sinamay fibers have on thema stiffener that reacts with the heat of the iron so that the layered sheets will stick together, ultimately creating the most beautiful multi-tone pieces. 

Jiffy Steamer

Sinamay can also be used to trim hats by sculpting ribbons, flowers, swirls and curves etc. and is a great material to experiment with. We also often embellish our sinamay with beads, buttons, lace, embroidery and fabrics as it is easy to stitch onto either by machine or by hand.

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