All About Sinamay
Sinamay is one of the most popular hat-making foundations in the world. It is woven from the processed stalks of the abaca tree, a banana palm native to the Philippines. Abaca fibre is three times stronger than cotton or silk, and a fabric made from 100% abaca can last for over 100 years. As a result, sinamay holds a very firm shape. Because it is a natural fibre, it holds colour beautifully.
There are many different types of sinamay.
You can find sinamay in grades of varying quality:
- A-grade (sometimes also called 'pinok pok'), which has an exceptionally fine and even weave
- B-grade, which has a very even weave and is strong and hard-wearing
- C-grade, which is a loose weave preferred for craft and floral embellishments.
Sinamay can be stiffened using chemicals so that it will hold a firm, sturdy shape, or can remain soft for freeshaping and loose folding.
It can be found in many different weaves and textures. Some popular varieties include basketweave sinamay, cobweb sinamay and crochet weave sinamay.
Sinamay is a versatile foundation material which can be used to create all kinds of stunning hat shapes. The uses of sinamay in millinery are impossible to count. It can be used to create complex layered constructions as well as classic brims and sturdy hat bases. It is also pliable and can be used to stunning effect in free-shaping.
This unique material was introduced into Australian millinery in 1990 by Waltraud Reiner. With its gorgeous and expanding range of colours, its firm yet pliable texture and its boundless versatility, it has since become one of the most popular foundation materials for hat-making in Australia.
Waltraud's first millinery video, produced in 2003, was a a tutorial on free-shaping with sinamay.
If you'd like to try working with sinamay yourself but don't know how to use it, you can book into one of our workshops with Waltraud - have a look at our workshop schedule
and see what's on.
Since Waltraud first brought sinamay to Australia in the 1990s, our students have produced hundreds of amazing sinamay designs. Have a look at the possibilities below and fall in love with this wonderfully versatile material.
Learn more about these other millinery materials woven from abaca fibre: