All About Parasisal Straw
Parasisal is a fine natural straw woven from the fibres of the sisal plant, a type of agave.
It is used in haute couture millinery because of its high quality and smooth weave.
Because it is a natural fibre, it takes dye very well.
Parasisal is the preferred straw for expensive millinery because it is both finer and longer-lasting than most other hat-making straws. It can be blocked and stiffened to achieve sculptural effects or left naturally flexible.
Milliners generally work from parasisal 'hoods'. These are woven pieces of straw in a dome shape, in the rough size of the desired hat. These can be wide-brimmed - 'capelines' - or short-brimmed - 'cones' or 'sleeves'. The hood must then be blocked to form the final shape of the hat.
Straw has been used in millinery for centuries. It forms the basis for most traditional spring and summer hats including the panama, the boater, the bonnet, and the rice hat (a conical head covering worn by outdoor workers in Southeast Asia).
Here are some of the amazing hats that our students have produced with straw. Click on the picture to view an enlarged version.
If you are interested in learning more about how to work with straw, you might like to enrol in one of our millinery workshops. Check our workshop schedule
to find out what classes are on offer!
Learn more about other blocking materials used in millinery and textile work: