Blocking & Blocking Materials

Learn About Blocking Materials:

Sinamay - A versatile foundation material used to make hats bases, crowns and trims. It is pliable and strong for making all sorts of free form shapes. 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 fiber, it holds color beautifully.

There are many different types of sinamay.

  • 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 so that it will hold a firm, sturdy shape, or can remain soft for free hand shaping.

It can be found in many different weaves, textures and patterns.



Buckram - Heavy Buckram is used to make buckram hat frames.

Theatrical or Double Buckram is used to make Theatrical Hat Frames for theatres that are heavier to withstand repeat use in plays or films. Medium Buckram is used in curtain making.

Millinery Buckram is different from bookbinding buckram. It is impregnated with a starch, which allows it to be softened in water, pulled over a hat block, and left to dry into a hard shape.

White Buckram is most commonly used in hatmaking, though black is available as well. Millinery buckram comes in three weights: baby buckram (often used for children’s and dolls’ hats), single-ply buckram, and Double Buckram also known as ‘Theatrical Crown’.


Buntal - A very fine white Philippine fiber obtained from the stalks of unopened leaves of the talipot palm and used in making hats



  • Silk Abaca

  • Parisisal - Fine, high quality natural straw made from sisal, bleached or dyed to colour, comes in grades from one to five. Normally reserved for expensive hats. Delicate in texture but resilient in wear, takes dye well. Parasisal is made using two over two weave.

  • Felt

  • Leather

  • Thermoplastics