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Sinamay- A Quick and Easy Blocking Technique

By Ann  |  27 Mar 2018 21:00:00

Blocking Sinamay - Easy and Quick

We hear about lots of ways in which people block sinamay. There is no 'correct' way to do it. The most important thing is that the results are beautiful and that this is acheived as simply as possible with as little handling as possible. This is how we do it. It's easy and quick and does not involve vats of water and long drying times. Perfect for those last minute hats.

Firstly, there are two types of sinamay:

1. Mildly Stiffened

This is relatively soft and allows for easy blocking and a degree of free forming. It is available in many colours and very subtle shade differences. This stiiffens up when steam ironed as the stiffener is heat activated. Further sinamay stiffener can be applied after it is blocked

2. Well Stiffened

This is quite stiff and requires strong hands for blocking. It does not lend itself as easily to free forming and trimming, but has advantages in that it rarely needs more stiffener. The colour range is not as broad as it is for mildly stiffened.


We are going to concentrated on blocking Mildly Stiffened Sinamay

You will need a cotton pressing cloth, a steam iron, sinamay stiffener and blocking pins


1. Choose your hat block and cut three squares of sinamay big enough to cover the block with eenough excess to pin on the underside

2. Plug in your steam iron and set to 'steam' heat.

3. Place your three layers of sinamay over your block lining up one corner with the centre front of the hat block.

4. Using a pressing cloth steam the sinamay gently forming it around the block.

5. Pull the straight sides around and pin sparingly, stretching opposite sides against each other as you go (working antagonistically). Imagine a clock face and pin 12 and 6, then 3 and 9

6 When all four sides have been pinned sparingly, start to steam and pull the corners down and around the block. Because these are on the bias, the wrinkles will pull out easily

7. Continue to work and pin antagonistically until all then wrinkles have been pulled out and the pins form a full oval butted against each other.  If your block is straight sided without a return then fewer pins are required. You can use a piece of broad elastic as a blocking spring.

7. Using your pressing cloth, press your hat onto the block, steaming and moving the iron in small circles from the centre out as you go. You will feel ihe hat firming up.

8. Leave your hat to cool.

To Add Stiffener

1. Make up your sinamay stiffener 1:3 - for example 50mls siffener + 100mls water

2. Paint on to your hat sparingly and 'massage' the stiffener in gently with your hands or alternatively paint on sparingly and then take a lint free piece of cotton and 'dab' the excess off. You want to achieve a light coat of stiffener without any excessive shiny residue in the weave

So 'Paint it On, Dab it Off'

Leave to dry out of the sun or dry using a hair dryer

So that's it, no buckets of water. 10 minutes is all it takes to block. 

Now your ready for trimming.


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