This is Panama hat guide part one.

Panama hat guide

                                 Panama hat guide part 1

What is a Panama hat? Basically, it is a white summer hat that is woven from the straw of the Toquilla Palm. Even though it is called Panama hat, it is originally made in Ecuador and it has never been made in Panama.    

 

So how is a Panama hat made?

Basically, you take the core fibers of the toquilla plant which are also known as cogollos. The cogollos are the hearts of the palm tree and they're carefully separated by hand and then briefly boiled. Since they're wet, they have to be sun-dried or air dried and once that's done, the fiber is bleached with sulfur smoke to give it the original Panama light color. Sometimes, you can also find uncolored hats but they have a much more yellow appearance. To get really fine hats, the palm tree fibers are split into even finer straw fibers. The weaving of a Panama hat begins at the center of the crown. Once the crown is large enough, it's put in a dry pot and woven on top of a hat block at about waist height. Once the weave extends past the size of the hat block, the weaver adds additional blocks on top and pulls down the weave so it stays in place and it gets that hat shape. The entire process is physically quite tiring and depending on how fine your hat is, it can take anywhere from a few weeks up to several months to create one hat. Once the weaver gets to the edge of the brim, it's typically handed off to other artisans who finish the hat.

Quality hallmarks of Panama hat, number 1: Good straw and weave

The finer the straw, the more equal all the fibers are, and the more evenly they are colored, the higher the quality of the hat. When it comes to weaving, a finer denser weave that is more regular is more desirable than a looser wider weave that is more irregular.

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