Janet Troy Feb 17 2 min read

What Are The Differences Between Different Types Of Raffia?

Have you ever wondered... "What are the different types of raffia?" We take you through all of the differences so you can understand how to get the most out of your crafting projects.

Genuine raffia comes from a plant, but there’s also paper raffia and synthetic raffia. We'll take you through all the differences.


Genuine raffia comes from the segments of the leaves of the Raffia Palm (Genus: Raphia). Various species grow in Asia and the tropics of South America, but the best quality comes from Madagascar. After sustainable harvesting, the leaves are stripped, dried and graded according to strand length, width and colour. This process takes place locally in Madagascar and provides a livelihood for many families.

Raffia is flexible, strong, durable, natural, semi waterproof and is used in crafts, interiors and fashion. The natural “straw” colour is extremely versatile and can be dyed in a myriad of colours.


Paper raffia is made from cellulose (wood pulp) and is a man-made fibre. It’s continuous and is usually supplied on a spool. As it has a uniform appearance, it won’t provide the rustic look of natural raffia.

Some paper raffia has a slightly stiff feel, which softens with use, although Ra-Ra Raffia is beautifully soft to work with, particularly for crochet.

The width of paper raffia is generally around 5mm as supplied on the spool or 25mm when opened and flattened. It’s reasonably strong, but not as strong as genuine raffia from the raffia palm. Paper raffia is available in a huge array of colours  and can be successfully combined with other types of raffia.


Synthetic raffia is generally made from cellulose and rayon. Being a man-made fibre, it’s continuous and is usually supplied in a ball. It has a soft feel, but is reasonably strong and durable, although not as strong as genuine raffia from the raffia palm.

The appearance is often shiny and it is available at some haberdashery and fabric stores.The Raffia Connection specialises in natural plant-based fibres, so we do not stock synthetic raffia.


One of the first questions that new crafters often ask is “How are plant raffia and paper raffia different and which one is better?” The basket below is made from all three different types of raffia. Can you guess which is which?