Pinokpok – Everything You’ve Ever Wanted To Know

Posted by Sian Wright on

What is Pinokpok?

Pinokpok translates as ‘Pounded Abaca’. It has a smooth linen appearance due to the fact that it has been subjected to considerable hand pounding.  Usually, this hand pounding or hammering of the materials can take days and produces a shiny and smooth material, amazing for blocking and trimming.

Pinokpok fabric in bright colours

Sinamay and Pinokpok, what is the difference?

"Sinamay" is a type of fabric made from abaca fibers, which are obtained from the leaves of the abaca plant, also known as the Manila hemp plant. It is commonly used in hat making and millinery.

Abaca plants in the Philippines and manila hemp drying

The Philippines is one of the largest producers of abaca fibers and is known for its high-quality sinamay products. The images above shows the abaca plants and the bottom image shows the abaca fibers (known as Manila Hemp) drying on a bamboo pole.

B Unique Pinokpok (and Sinamay) is produced in the Philippines (though it is also possible that sinamay products are made in other countries where the abaca plant is grown such as Ecuador and other countries in the Caribbean).

How is Pinokpok made?

A few years ago our very own Brenda from B Unique was lucky enough to visit our supplier and meet the sinamay weavers in the Philippines. While there, we were fortunate to witness the making of premium Pinokpok. Here is a short video from that trip:

Pinokpok is handmade from finely woven abaca. It is sometimes referred to as extra fine sinamay because it is created using sinamay made with the finest of straws and a very fine weave. This extra fine sinamay is painstakingly handwoven on old wooden weaving looms, with each weaver producing only about 1/2 a metre of the material per day.

When a roll is completed, which can take a number of weeks, this extra fine weave sinamay fabric is then dyed. When completely dry, it is pounded, by hand, with a wooden mallet. The pounding continues for days until the material magically changes its texture and appearance, transforming into a shiny, smooth material which looks like linen - pinokpok.

Can you block Pinokpok?

A fascinator hat made from pinokpok

Yes! Just like sinamay, Pinokpok can be blocked, the base of this navy button hat is made up of two layers of sinamay and a top layer of pinokpok, all blocked over a button fascinator block. The handmade flower and twirls are also made out of pinokpok, showing that while this fabric looks like linen, it has the stability to hold its shape like sinamay. 

What 'grade' of Sinamay is Pinokpok?

You might have heard of different grades of sinamay. Sinamay can be graded based on several factors, such as the thickness of the fibers, the tightness of the weave, and the quality of the finished fabric. Here are some of the different grades of sinamay that are commonly used:

  1. Extra Fine Sinamay: This is the highest grade of sinamay, with a tight and even weave, fine fibers, and a soft and smooth feel. It is often used for high-end hats, fascinators, and other millinery items. Pinokpok would be considered Super Fine Sinamay.
  2. Fine Sinamay: This grade of sinamay has a slightly looser weave than super fine sinamay, but still has a smooth and soft feel. It is suitable for a variety of millinery and decorative uses. B Unique has a range of fine sinamay in all warehouses.
  3. Medium Sinamay: This grade of sinamay has a coarser weave and thicker fibers, making it more durable and stiffer than the finer grades. It is often used for hat frames, baskets (and as milliners know, it’s great for blocking)
  4. Coarse Sinamay: This is the lowest grade of sinamay, with a loose and uneven weave and thick, rough fibers. It is suitable for use in baskets and other coarse applications.

Note that the grading system for sinamay can vary depending on the manufacturer and the country of origin, and the grades described above are general guidelines only.

Where can I buy Pinokpok?

B Unique stocks a selection of pinokpok in all of our warehouses worldwide. Available in a range of stunning colours, you can get the highest quality Pinokpok from B Unique.

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