Monday, March 18, 2013

What is a SINAMAY hat

When we think SINAMAY HATS, we think of royal weddings, mint tulips and the Kentucky Derby.
The hats start life off as lowly fibers on a tree and when you see how much work it takes to make them into the crowning glories we see them as, you will wonder why they do not cost thousands instead of hundreds of dollars.
Sinamay is made from ABACA fibers which are harvested from the trucks of Musa Textilis trees. These trees look like wild banana trees and are native to the Philippines.

Weaving the sheets of sinamay is tedious work.

There are different qualities of sinamay. The cheapest is made into a pulp to make teabags and paper money. Woven sinamay comes in sheets/plies. The cheap tissue like hat you buy at a low end store is made of 1 ply and will feel very flimsy. Better hats like SCALA hats use multi plies to profuse hight quality hats.
Here are some photos from a sinamay hat factory which I recently visited.
Millinery love using sinamay because is is light and can be dyes into beautiful fashion colors.

dyed sheets waiting to be made into hats

Sheets with animal print.
Here are some navy sheets drying after being lacquered.
Similar to all hat blocking. The sinamay sheets are steamed and blocked into the desired shapes.

 We call a blocked untrimmed sinamay hat a FRAME. The block above will make a base for a fascinator, something like this.

Then the ladies will attach it to a headband.

They will hot glue some sinamay bows and feathers.

 Maybe add a curly quill
To make these beautiful creations.

 The asymmetric crown block on the right was used to make this hat.

 This mold made this unfinished frame.
Next step is to finished the edge with wire and cut the hole for the head.

Or instead of making room for the head just attached it to a headband and wear it perched on top of the head.

 This mold is used to make a shallow crown with a large picture brim.

These sinamay sheets have been blocked into a cloche crown.

These asymmetric brims will have an under brim of pleated netting.

The netting is sewn to the upper edge.
And then pleated into the head size area.

Add a few flowers and off to the races.

Self bows are oven used as trim on sinamay hats. The sinamay is cut into strips, the edges ironed.

Printed animal sinamay used as trim.
 Sinamay is also made into leaves as trim

Feathers are often used as trim and can make a hat quite expensive. A person who make feather trims is caller a plumier.
Coq feathers are very popular for hat trims but they are expensive.

Duck or chicken feathers are used on cheaper hats. Coq feathers flutter in the wind and make the hat flirtatious while duck feathers are still and lifeless.

There is a difference between the American and British sinamay market. American ladies tend to shy away from indented crowns and also eat/west brims. They seem to have a had time with the stiffness of a classic sinamay.
They seem to prefer a softer crown like this style.

This 3 layered fascinator on a headband is also popular for the Derby.

Note the curled by hand finished edges. This a long with the luxurious coq feathers makes this headdress expensive.