Glossary of Terms

Abaca– Straw made from a Philippine plant (musa textilis), also called Manila hemp; this term is now being used interchangeably with sinamay.

Bacbac– Dark and light Philippine straws woven together into wide, flat strands to produce a beautiful multi-hued effect.

Bakou (baku)- Fine, expensive straw made from the buri palm of Ceylon and Malabar. Used with an extremely fine, time-consuming weave to produce our Bakou capelines. see weaves

Body – See Hat Styles below.

Brim– The projecting edge of a hat; that part that extends outward from the base of the crown.

Buckram– A stiff cotton or synthetic fabric, named after the former state of Bukhara in S.W. Asia famous for its textiles. Stiffer and thicker than crinoline, it’s commonly used as the foundation of hats, where it’s either covered with material or draped.

Capeline – See Hat Styles above.

Cartwheel – See Hat Styles above.

Cone – See Hat Styles above.

Crinoline – A thin, lightly sized open weave cotton or synthetic material used as a support for fabric or straw covered hats (see buckram). Also used as the backing for ribbon flowers. Comes in black for darker ribbon, and white for all others. It was originally made of horsehair and used as a foundation fabric.

Crown – That part of a hat that covers the head, starting at the top of the head and continuing to where the brim begins.

Crown Block – A block (usually wooden) used to shape the crown of a hat. This is the most basic block and the most versatile, used by amateurs and accomplished milliners alike.

Flare – See Hat Styles above.

GI, GII, GIII, GIV, GV (Grades) – Hats are made in grades 1 through 5, with GI (grade 1) being the finest weave and GV (grade 5) being the coarsest.

Grosgrain – A corded ribbon of silk or rayon with edges that allow it to be swirled in a circle with a steam iron. The American term for British “petersham ribbon”.  See grosgrain size table below.

Grosgrain/Ribbon Size Table

Ribbon Size#3#5*#9**#16#40
Inches5/8″7/8″1-1/2″2″3″
*commonly referred to as “one inch”; used traditionally for inside hats
** the newer look…more artsy and more comfortable over the ears on a coarser weave of hat

Hemp – Straw made from the hemp plant, which grows all over the world and has been used for millennia. Beside hats, hemp is also used to produce rope, yarn, canvas and paper, and is a good replacement for many wool-based products.

Hood – See Hat Styles above.

Jute – A glossy fiber that comes from the jute plant. it’s second only to cotton in world consumption of natural fibers.

Maroca – Philippine straw intentionally woven in different widths for a more “natural straw” look.

Panama – True “panamas” come from Ecuador and Columbia, and are hand made (see weaves) from split bleached leaves of the palm like toquilla. They were named by Gold Rosh-era prospectors who bought them in Panama.

Paper Toyo – See Toyo.

Parasisal – Made from sisal straw, this refers to a linen-like weave that is very small and tight, yet flexible, yielding a smooth surface with a high degree of elasticity.

Raffia (raffia) – Straw woven from the fiber of the raffia palm of Madagascar.

Sea Grass – A smooth, papery straw whose natural color is a pale, sea green.

Sinamay – Very thin, very open weave made from abaca straw.

Sisal (Sissal) – Straw made from sisal hemp, a fiber yielded from the agave sisalana plant of Yucatán. It also refers to the linen-like weave made with this straw.

Sizes – See the following examples for an explanation of hat measurements:

6x4x5 – Indicates the size of a particular hat, in this case, a capeline; the first number is the diameter at the top of the crown; the second number is the height of the crown; the third number is the distance from the base of the crown to the edge of the brim. see diagram below

7×8 – Seven inches across the top and eight inches down the side; you, being the designer, would determine where the bottom of the crown would end and the brim would begin. see diagram below

11/12 – Small brim, 4″
12/13 – Medium brim, 5″
13/14 – Large brim, 6″

Solid Weave – A weave so tight that the finished appearance is that of a solid surface with no holes.

“Stiffened 0, 7º all over” – A notation that a hat has been sized all over, with a very low degree of stiffness.

Toyo – The Japanese word for paper, it refers to a fiber made from rolled rice paper or recycled American news papers combined with cellophane or other materials. it produces a very smooth surface with a shiny or dull finish. Used like any other straw, it can be crocheted, twisted, or woven solid to produce more affordable versions of the more expensive natural straws.

Travel Hat – A hat that travels well. The original travel hat was created by a milliner named Mr. John, who is also credited with producing the hats for Gone with the Wind, having invented shoulder straps for purses, and for putting soles on ballet shoes for street wear. Thank you, Mr. John. He invented a hat that collapses flat for packing and pops out to a darling hat that looks good on almost everyone. Most customers know it well. A San Francisco milliner was responsible for its comeback in recent history, aided by an increasing need for comfort and portability in our busy lifestyles.

Twisted – A weave in which the straws are first twisted into tight strands and then those strands are woven into an open pattern that produces a very airy hat.

Weaves – 1 x 1- Refers to one strand of straw woven with one other strand to create a solid weave of a hat. 2×2 – Refers to two strands of straw woven with two other strands of straw to make a hat.

A note about our hats: All our hats are hand woven or hand crocheted, or as the case of our Italian hats, hand swirled grosgrain and straw braid. This is quite an undertaking, with each hat taking any where from half a day to several months to complete.