7 Straw Flat Plait

This is a “flat plait” and is known as the Dunstable Plait (named after one of the towns involved in producing straw plaits for the hat industry).

Remember the little plaiting rhyme:
“Over one, under two, pull it tight and that will do.”

plait from the frontback of the plait
Plait from the front.Back of the plait.

You will need:


  • Sharp scissors


  • supply of straws without heads
  • Strong thread for tying


Before you start make sure the straws are pliable. If they have been stored for a time they will need to be dampened. To do this put the straw in a container (like a plastic garden trough) and cover with warm water. Leave for a few hours until the ends of the straw bend without breaking. Try not to get the straw too wet as it will be limp and lifeless. When you are working with the straws keep them wrapped in a damp towel.

Making a 7 Straw Plait

Step 1


Tie your seven straws together using a Clove Hitch and divide them, three on the left side, and four on the right hand side.

Step 2

first fold

With the group of four, take the very outside straw on the right, pass it over the next one, then under the next two, so that it goes over to the left and becomes the inside straw of the left-hand group of three (so you’ve then got a group of four straws on the left hand side).

Step 3

second fold

Then you go over to the left hand side, and do the same thing the other way, taking the extreme outside left straw over the next one on its right, and under the remaining two, so that it goes over to the right to become the inside straw of the right-hand group of straws. Then give each side a little tug to pull it tight. Then start again on the right hand group of four, repeating the moves you’ve just done…….

You would carry on like this, but would need to add more straws as they get used up.plait in progress

Inserting new straws

The straw will gradually become shorter and shorter, so you will need to add more straws.

inserting a new straw

Insert a new straw (as shown in the diagram above). Do not cut off the ends until the plait is dry.

Straw Suppliers

Use this link to get a list of Straw Suppliers who may be able to supply you with the straw that is suitable for plaiting.

Further Reading

Most of these Books will have a section on straw plaiting.

If you would like to find out about the Straw Hat industry the web has many links that you can follow. The following books are worth searching out.

Jean DavisStraw PlaitShire ISBN:0 85263 580 X published 1981
N. Agar Ph.D.Hitchin’s Straw Plait IndustryHitchin Historical Society(N. Herts. District Council Museum Service)
J. Dony PhDA History of the Straw Hat IndustryGibbs, Bamforth & Co. published 1942
J. Dony et alThe Story of Lutonpublished 1964
Charles FreemanLuton and the Hat IndustryLuton Museum and Art Gallery published 1953
June Kraft GargesHandcrafted Straw HatsPrivate publication published 1982
I. Chalkley GouldStraw-Plaiting, A lost Essex IndustryReprinted from Essex Naturalist Vol.XIV published 1906
László LGrófChildren of StrawBarracuda Books ISBN:0 86023 290 5 published 1988
László LGrófChildren of StrawBaron Books ISBN:0 86023 672 2 published 2002
compiled by Mrs. Hughes
in collaboration with Mrs. and the Misses Batchelor
A First Course in English Straw PlaitingReprinted from the original Victorian publication by Cuckoostone Productions
Luton Museum & Art GalleryThe Little Straw Hat Book 
Luton MuseumThe Romance of the Straw Hatpublished 1933 Reprinted 1964, 1976

Further resources

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