Straw hat plaiting with Veronica Main

Basketmaking, chair seating and willow work Sewing, embroidery and accessories

Ref: SWE11710

Book now

Places available

About this course

Learn how to accurately recreate straw plait made for the straw hat industry. Learning from one of the country's last traditional straw plaiters you will discover how to prepare the straw then to produce plait suitable for making into a hat.

Course Description

The course will begin with a short contextual introduction to the occupation of straw plaiting for the hat industry. You will undertake the necessary straw preparation, learning how to select and prepare plaiting straws. Working through a structured programme of skill development you will make a number of wholestraw plaits learning how to join new straws to produce a long, strong length of plait suitable for hat making.

Once these skills have been mastered you will progress to splitting and preparing straws leading onto making a range of simple split straw plaits. You will acquire a repertoire of several plait types and have the basic knowledge required for making a simple hat. By the end of the course you will have a clear understanding of the structure of a hat plait, the method of making the plait quickly and effectively.

Important notes:

You will be working with wheat straw. At the start of the course you will prepare a sheaf of wheat which can be dusty. If you prefer to protect your hands during this work please bring lightweight gardening or strong plastic gloves.

Manual dexterity is required. Straw plaiting requires use of the thumb and first two fingers of each hand and prolonged working can be physically tiring.

If you need to wear glasses for close work then please bring them. Some of the work can be quite fine.


Arrival Day - this is the first date listed above

Courses start early evening. Residential students to arrive from 4pm, non-residential students to arrive by 6.45pm.

6.45pm: Welcome, followed by dinner (included).

8 - 9pm: First teaching session, attendance is essential.

Daily timetable

Classes 9.15 - 5pm, lunch is included.

From 6.30pm: Dinner (included for residential students).

Evening working - students may have access to workshops until 9pm, but only with their tutor's permission and provided any health and safety guidelines are observed.

Last day

Classes 9.15am - 3pm, lunch is included.

Residential students are to vacate their rooms by 10am please.

(This timetable is for courses of more than one day in length. The tutor may make slight variations)

Course Materials


  • On this course the College will supply most materials including one sheaf of wheat straw and a straw splitting tool.

What students need to bring

  • Notepad/pen or pencil
  • Scissors: two pairs, household size for preparing the straw and a smaller needlework size for clipping the plait.
  • Small container, 30cm long and approx. 15cm wide, 8cm deep.
  • Hand towel/absorbent tea towel
  • Small rolling pin or a bookbinders’ bone folder
  • Household gloves if you wish to wear them; close work glasses, if needed.
  • Box or bag for storing plaits and samples
  • Strong plastic bag/sack for taking prepared straw/remains of sheaf home

Available to buy

  • Available from shop:
  • Bone folders
  • Available from tutor:
  • Veronica’s book, Swiss Straw Work: Techniques of a Fashion Industry
Wear appropriate clothing/aprons for the workshop or studio, this includes stout covered footwear i.e. no open-toes or sandals. Safety boots, if specified.


Residential option available. Find out accommodation costs and how to book here.

Courses of interest

Sign-up to be the first to know

Sign up to our Short Course enews to hear about new courses, late availability and get creative inspiration delivered straight to your inbox.