How to Make a Panama Hat

The making of an authentic Toquilla Straw Hat, also known as the Panama Hat, is a long and meticulous process. This exacting artisan craft has been passed from generation to generation, originating in the city of Montecristi in the Manabi province of Ecuador ? one of the only places the flexible straw fiber that is essential to the weaving process can be found. Read on to learn the steps involved in the crafting of this ageless classic.
The making of an authentic Toquilla Straw Hat, also known as the Panama Hat, is a long and meticulous process. This exacting artisan craft has been passed from generation to generation, originating in the city of Montecristi in the Manabi province of Ecuador ? one of the only places the flexible straw fiber that is essential to the weaving process can be found. Read on to learn the steps involved in the crafting of this ageless classic. 
 
Weaving
After the starw is treated, the weaver selects the best straw and cuts it to the length he wants to work with. Constantly dipping their fingers in water as they split the fiber to a razor thin width, the weaving begins outwards from the center of the crown.

 

This kind of weaving is a unique skill handed down from generation to generation. The greatest weavers work only by the light of the moon or when the sky is overcast.

 
After the weaving
Once woven, the hat has four to six inches of loose straw remaining around the brim. This excess of straw is then woven backwards by ?rematadoras?, forming a thin but strong band around the brim. Next, an ?azocadora? receives the hat to carefully tighten the brim?s edge.
 
 
Blocking and styling the hats
Blocking is the process in which the hat receives its final shape. This is achieved by ironing the hat over a wooden form or by using a steam hydraulic machine.
 
 
 

Photos courtesy of Prymal & Valdez via Instagram 

 Finally, a band is sewn internally, while decorative trim is attached. Now the hat is ready for sale.