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Sinamay Fibre used in Wedding Hats and Handbags

posted on 23 March 2012 | posted in Handbag and fashion Articles

sinamay bag
Sinamy wedding and special occasion handbags at

Sinamay is a type of fabric which is hand-woven from fibres of the leafstalks of the abaca plant (musa textilis) which was originally only found in the Philippines. The fibres, which are very flexible and water-resistant, are also known as Manila Hemp. The plant grows up to 20 feet tall when mature and the trunk is cut down 2 to 4 times a yearto just above the roots in order to harvest the fibres. New sprouts grow from the roots after cutting. Leaf sheaths are stripped and pulp is scraped off to get to the abaca fibre strands, which range in length from 3 to 9 feet depending on the height of the plant and the age of the leafsheath. The colour of the fibres ranges from ivory white to dark brown.
The abaca plant requires a warm, humid climate for optimum growth, and grows in virtually all types of soil in the Philippines, though it is most productive in areas where the soil is volcanic in origin witha pH of between 6.0 and 7.0.
This plant was being grown in the Philippines in the 1500s, and when the explorer Magellan visited in 1521 he recorded that the plant's fibres were being woven for clothing. In the 1800s the abaca plant's fibres became known worldwide as they were found to be excellent for ships' rigging, and this led to a surge in demand. Abaca was fist exported to the USA in 1825 for naval use, and Americans were encouraged to establish plantations on the Philippines, and after World War 1 the Japanese did likewise. However the US were worried about the Philippines having a monopoly of supply and in 1921 tried to grow abaca in Central America. However Ecuador is the only country other than the Philippines producing the fibres commercially, with 14% of the world's total compared with the Philippines' 86%.
Production of abaca fibres slumped in the 1950's following the introduction of synthetic fibres, and with prices plummeting, several plantations were phased out. When demand for abaca was falling, the Philippines government encouraged development of the fibrecraft industry, and by the mid-1970s this was the second largest foreign exchange earner after raw fibre export. As well as being used for Sinamay hats and bags, the fibres are used for ropes, rugs, manila envelopes, currency and tea bags amongst other things.

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