How to make a sinamay pillbox hat fascinator - Easy Hat Blocks

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    This is a step-by-step tutorial to show you how to make a sinamay pillbox hat fascinator using a wood hat block. This tutorial has a lot of photos that will guide you through this fun and easy millinery project.



    You will need the following supplies:

    • Hat block
    • Blocking stand
    • Sinamay
    • Petersham ribbon
    • Thread
    • Needle
    • Comb
    • Cling film
    • Bowl with water
    • Millinery wire
    • Sticky tape
    • Scissors x2
    • Cutting pliers
    • Ruler
    • Measuring tape
    • Blocking pins
    • Thimble
    • Dressmaker’s pins
    • Dressmaker’s marker
    • Iron



    • Apron
    • Water-based millinery stiffener
    • Brush
    how to make a pillbox hat

    How to make a sinamay pillbox hat fasciantor – supplies


    Here are a couple of notes about the supplies. You can purchase most of the supplies in regular grocery stores or shops that sell sewing supplies. As for the sinamay, millinery wire, stiffener, petersham ribbon and blocking pins I would suggest that you find a millinery shop. Mostly sinamay comes already stiffened, but you can purchase water-based millinery stiffener for straw and sinamay if you feel that you need more structure to the material (especially when blocking larger fascinators and hats). You can read more about blocking pins in our blog post – How to choose pins and thimble for hat blocking.

    I would suggest that you use 2 different scissors – one pair of dressmaker’s scissors for cutting soft fabric, thread etc. and another pair for cutting rough millinery materials like sinamay or buckram.


    RUBY pillbox hat block You can purchase the hat block and hat block stand used for this project in our online shop.

    Purchase hat block “RUBY”

    Purchase blocking stand




    First thing to do is measure the hat block to see how large pieces of sinamay you will need.

    how to make a pillbox hat

    Measure how large pieces of sinamay you will need


    For this hat block you will need 2-3 pieces of sinamay – 23 x 23cm (9×9”) large. Use 2 layers if you want a “lighter”, semi-transparent pillbox hat or 3 layers for a more sturdy and non-transparenthat base.

    how to make a pillbox hat

    Cut 2-3 pieces of sinamay for your pillbox hat


    One of the sinamay pieces has to be cut on the bias.

    how to make a pillbox hat

    Use your first sinamay piece as a sample to cut another piece on the bias. You can use 2 rulers to get the right angle ;)


    You will also need a sinamay ribbon for trimming your hat. For the burgundy hat bow you will need a strip of 16x75cm ( 6 ¼” x 29 ½ “ ) sinamay cut on the bias. Feel free to cut a longer ribbon and then experiment with it creating your own unique trimming design. Remember – you can cut off the excess ribbon any time 😉

    how to make a pillbox hat

    To get the style of bow as the fasciantor featured in this post, you will need a 16cm wide strip

    How to prepare a hat block for hat making


    If you want to keep your hat blocks in perfect shape remember to cover them with cling film (or thin plastic bag) before blocking. Otherwise water and other substances that are used in hat blocking can soak into the wood and damage the hat block. Wrap at least 2 layers of cling film around the hat block. Read more about this in our blog post “How to take care of your hat blocks”.

    how to make a pillbox hat

    Wrap your hat block in cling film before blocking


    How to block sinamay


    There is some “magic” involved in turning this coarse and stiff material into beautiful round shapes. This magic is called water 🙂

    how to make a pillbox hat

    Choose an appropriate working space where it is safe to work with water


    Fill a bowl with room temperature water. Immerse the pieces of sinamay into the water for a couple of moments (not too long or the stiffener will wash out). The sinamay has to be damp, moist but not dripping. Lay all the sheets of sinamay on the table. Note – you may consider using a waterproof apron while blocking 😉 If you want, you can add sinamay stiffener to the water, this will make the material even harder when it dries.

    how to make a pillbox hat

    Make sure that every centimeter/ inch of the material is moist


    Start the blocking process – take one piece of sinamay and place it on the hat block. Each piece of the sinamay will have to be blocked separately to avoid creases. First pin the SIDES. Make sure to pull the material so that it tightly hugs the hat block. Use a thimble to protect your fingers while blocking!

    how to make a pillbox hat

    First start shaping the sides of the sinamay sheet


    You only have to pin each side with one pin at the moment, e.g. 4 pins – one for each side. The pins will have to be removed and pined back as you keep adding the other layers of sinamay.


    Now place one palm on the hat block and use your other hand to pull down one corner of the material. You will notice how malleable the material has now become. Pin the 1st corner, it is OK to have creases on the reverse side 😉 just make sure that the top surface stays smooth. Now repeat the same for the opposite corner, then pin the other 2 corners.

    how to make a pillbox hat

    By pulling down the corners you will get a nice, round and smooth shape


    Congratulations! You have mastered your very first step in blocking sinamay 😉

    how to make a pillbox hat

    This is how you roughly pin the material while adding all the layers of sinamay


    Now take the sheet of sinamay that was cut on the bias. Place it on top of the layer that is already blocked. Start with blocking the CORNERS. You can use the same pins as for the 1st layer to fix both layers. When the material of the 1st corner is arranged, carefully take out one pin and use it to pin both layers of sinamay. Do not pull out all the pins at once! This is a careful step-by-step process – first arrange the material on the surface, then pull out the pin, arrange both layers on the reverse side, pin both layers with the same pin. When blocking the sides of this bias sheet, remember to pull tightly so that no creases form on the surface of the hat.

    how to make a pillbox hat

    Place the bias-cut sheet on top of the straight weave sheet


    Now pin the 3rd layer of sinamay following the steps as described for 1st layer. Once all the sides and corners have been roughly pinned, remove the hat block from the stand, turn it over and add some pins in-between, making sure that the material tightly hugs the hat block and no air-pockets form on the surface.

    how to make a pillbox hat

    Add more pins so that the material tightly hugs the hat block


    Good job! Now put the hat block back on the stand and leave it to dry. It can take from a couple of hours in hot, dry climate or 12-24h in more humid and cooler conditions. You can also place it in direct sunlight to speed-up the process. Just remember that sinamay is a natural material and may fade if is left in direct sunlight for too long.

    how to make a pillbox hat

    Let the sinamay dry completely


    How to remove the hat from the hat block


    Make sure that all the layers of the material are completely dry. Remove the blocking pins. Next measure about 1.5-2cm (about 2/3“) from the edge of the hat and mark with the dressmaker’s pencil all around the hat. Cut off the excess.

    how to make a pillbox hat

    Mark and cut off the excess


    This is how your hat looks from the reverse side. Carefully remove the sinamay hat base from the block. Try not to stretch the material too much or you can ruin the shape. This process can be tricky at first but you will learn it eventually… with time 😉

    how to make a pillbox hat

    The sinamay hat base is till on the block


    How to wire a hat using millinery wire


    During the previous step you may have noticed that sinamay can easily loose it’s shape. To avoid this you have to strengthen the base of sinamay hats and fascinators with millinery wire. You can use metal wire covered with rayon or plastic millinery wire. For this project I will use metal millinery wire.

    how to make a pillbox hat

    Choose metal or plastic millinery wire


    To get the needed length of wire, measure it on the hat block and allow about 6-7cm (2 ½”) overlap. Cut it with millinery wire pliers. Do not use your scissors for cutting wire!!!

    how to make a pillbox hat

    To get the right size, measure around the hat block you used


    Fix the millinery wire together by wrapping sticky tape over the overlapping ends of the wire.

    how to make a pillbox hat

    Make sure the wire does not cross


    Now carefully insert the wire into the hat shape. Try not to bend the wire too much or distort the sinamay hat shape.

    how to make a pillbox hat

    This process is a bit tricky ;)



    You will have to stitch the millinery wire to the hat base. I will use a sample with a bright thread to better show you the stitch (see picture below).

    millinery stitch

    Use this stitch to attached wire to hats and fascinators


    Use a thread matching the color of the sinamay. You will have to stitch all the way round the edge of the hat.

    how to make a pillbox hat

    Use a thread matching the shade of the sinamay


    How to line hats or fascinators with petersham ribbon


    Fascinators have to look neat not only on the outside but also on the inside 🙂 Take petersham ribbon close to the color of the sinamay and pin it around the inside of the hat, leaving about 5mm (1/5 “) from the edge.

    how to make a pillbox hat

    Pin neatly ;)


    Allow about 5cm overlap, fold one end of the ribbon under.

    how to make a pillbox hat

    Hide both ends of the ribbon ;)


    Now stitch the ribbon to the hat.

    how to make a pillbox hat

    Use a matching thread


    Well, doesn’t this look nice! 🙂

    how to make a pillbox hat

    Does your hat look similar? ;)


    How to trim a sinamay hat


    The hardest is over! I promise! Now comes the most fun part – trimming! Take the strip of sinamay ribbon that you cut previously and place it on an ironing board. Fold over about 1/3 of the ribbon (in this case about 5cm or 2”). At this stage use only your fingers to manipulate the material.

    how to make a sinamay bias bind

    Press with your fingers to get a sharp fold


    Then fold over the other side of the ribbon. And again use only your fingers to press the fold.

    how to make a pillbox hat

    Nice and smooth :)


    During the next step we will again create some “magic” 🙂 Spray some (really very little) water on both sides of the bias bind. Let it soak in. Then hold down one end of the ribbon and pull it with the other hand. You will notice that the material will stretch and thus become more dense.


    Repeat the holding-and-pulling all along the length of the ribbon. Just make sure that you do not pull too tight and that the ribbon is evenly wide. From a 16cm wide sinamay strip you should get about 3,5cm (1 1/5 “) wide sinamay bias ribbon. Iron the ribbon.

    how to make a pillbox hat

    Voila! Your sinamay bias bind is ready!


    Now you can move on to experimenting with the ribbon to create some fabulous trimming for your hat.


    Or you can follow the steps below to create the elegant bow as in our burgundy pillbox hat 😉 For this bow you will need about 70-75cm (27 – 29”) long sinamay bias bind. Fold the ribbon in half and mark the center with a pin.

    how to make a pillbox hat

    Mark the center with a pin


    Then create 1 smaller and 1 bigger loop on each side. Once you have the desired size of the bow, pin the loops together so that the bow does not loose its shape. You will also need a smaller sinamay bias ribbon to fold over the center of the bow. Once the bow looks nice enough, pin it to the hat.

    how to make a pillbox hat

    Cut one smaller sinamay bias ribbon to fold over the center of the bow


    Now comes one of the most important steps in this millinery project – try on the hat. Hold it to your head, look at it from every possible angle to make sure you like what you see. Make adjustments if needed. Stitch the bow to the hat.

    how to make a pillbox hat

    You can use a foam head, but always try the hat also on a real human head ;)



    Yippeee! You are almost finished! 🙂 🙂 🙂

    Now comes the last but not least. This style of pillbox hats fixes well with plastic (or metal) combs. But you can also use a headband or hat elastic instead. Simply stitch the comb to the hat base at each end of the comb.

    how to make a pillbox hat

    You can use a smaller comb, just test if it will provide enough support


    TADAM! It is ready – your first hand-blocked pillbox hat!

    Have fun wearing it!

    how to make a pillbox hat

    Beautiful hand-made sinamay pillbox hat!



    RUBY pillbox hat block You can purchase the hat block and hat block stand used for this project in our online shop.

    Purchase hat block “RUBY”



    hat blocking stand

    Purchase blocking stand


    In our on-line shop you will find also other lovely pillbox hat blocks that are so easy to work with!

    Visit on-line store




    • Matilda
      December 17, 2015 at 00:14 |

      Thanks a lot, this tutorial really helped me, I can’t wait to try it out.

      • admin
        December 17, 2015 at 09:38 |

        We are glad you like it! Have fun hat making and send us some pictures with your creations! 🙂

    • josette farrugia
      March 18, 2016 at 06:55 |

      Cannot wait to receive my second block from you , everyone wants this kind of fascinator now.

      • admin
        March 23, 2016 at 18:13 |

        The hat block is the way to you! Send us some pictures with the lovely fascinators you make with it 🙂

    • Kendra
      March 23, 2016 at 16:24 |

      Oh my goodness, this was the most comprehensive, easy to understand tutorial I’ve ever come across while looking for a how-to, and it has the best photos to follow along with! Thank you so much for creating this!

      • admin
        March 23, 2016 at 18:11 |

        Thank you, Kendra! We are happy to hear that this millinery tutorial helped you.

    • nosanda memani
      April 14, 2016 at 18:00 |

      Wonderful thank you so much for this lesson I gained a lot.

    • Angela
      May 29, 2016 at 20:25 |

      This is a wonderful tutorial.

      • admin
        May 31, 2016 at 16:01 |

        Thank you, Angela! We are glad that you find it useful.

    • chinwe
      May 31, 2016 at 20:41 |

      Thank you. Well explained. Will try out

    • serpil
      August 25, 2016 at 07:54 |

      Hİ, this was so helpful merci again but i wonder that only water and hat block can shape sinamay, should we use other chemicals with water,or after water process ?

      • admin
        August 29, 2016 at 07:14 |

        Hi, mostly sinamay is sold already stiffened and if you create a small shape you will not need any additional stiffening. However larger design may require additional stiffening. You can purchase sinamay stiffener in stores that sell millinery supplies.

    • Cindy
      August 27, 2016 at 02:28 |

      Thank you so much for this tutorial. I am a Red Hatter and I am so excited to make these for my chapter. You have made it straight forward and the step by step pictures are great. Thank you so much!!

      • admin
        August 29, 2016 at 07:15 |

        Hi Cindy, happy to hear that our tutorial was useful. We would love to see pictures with the hats you make.

    • Yvonne Cunnington
      September 6, 2016 at 13:31 |

      I thought I must write and say how good your tutorial is and so simple to follow. The photographs are very good indeed, showing each step and how things should look. This is the first time I have blocked a hat and thoroughly enjoyed making it. I am very pleased with it indeed and have had some lovely comments from people.
      Thank you.

      • admin
        September 12, 2016 at 07:48 |

        Thank you, Yvonne! We are delighted to hear that you enjoyed the process! Hat making should be fun! 🙂

    • Nabella
      October 9, 2016 at 14:38 |

      Thanks so much… This tutorial really helped.
      Please can i have a tutorial on how to cover this same pillbox hat with a lace fabric. Thanks

    • Maria Seyi-Shobowale
      October 17, 2016 at 09:52 |

      Thank you so much for this tutorial. I Love it. I find this very useful.


    • Matilda
      January 11, 2017 at 20:51 |

      Oh I tried it. It turned out well and beautiful. Thanks for the tips it really helped.

    • Flora
      January 20, 2017 at 17:45 |

      Wow!!!! You made it as simple as ABC. Thank you so much

    • trish dagle
      February 7, 2017 at 18:51 |

      my sinamay is drying lighter than the original color, is this a dye problem? I’m doing the steps right but my beautiful teal is now a light blue. Any ideas?

      • admin
        February 9, 2017 at 06:40 |

        Usually there are no problems with the dye, but maybe with the stiffener that has been used on the sinamay. Maybe next time do not immerse the sinamay fully into the water but rather spray the sheets with water slightly, let the water soak in and then shape the material. Good luck!

    • Leona Tsiara
      February 16, 2017 at 13:05 |

      Thank you so much for the wonderful tutorial and beautiful pictures! So easy to understand!
      I love it! I can’t wait to try it out!

    • Thandi Poncho
      March 28, 2017 at 13:44 |

      hi am kindly asking for the quotations of the blocks,brims stands as soon as possible. theres a company that want to sponsor my business of hats and fascinators please. if you r selling sinamay material can i also a quotation of ii please.

      • admin
        March 30, 2017 at 15:49 |

        Dear Thandi, there is something wrong with the e-mail address that you have provided. You can find all the details and prices for your hat blocks in the SHOP section of our web site: Currently we sell only our hand made hat blocks and no millinery materials like sinamay, veils etc.

    • Sophia
      August 6, 2017 at 15:41 |

      I can’t thank you enough for this tutorial,more than helpful which to get more from you thank you so much.