The Creation Process

PANAMA HATS - How they're made
Panama hats are skilfully hand-woven over a period of time that can take days or even months depending on the grade of the weave. They go through a rigorous making process which results in the superb quality hats we see today.
It all begins with the farming of the 'cogollos', the long green undeveloped shoots that if left to mature will open up into a spread of palm leaves.


Once selected, the strips are curled up and boiled in a large pot over fire. When cooked they are then strung up to dry. When dried, the 'tallos' are then placed in a wooden box and burning sulphur is placed underneath. Hot coal keeps the sulphur smoking. This process bleaches the straws to the off white colour we readily associate with panama hats.



 Now the weaving of the hat can begin.

It starts with 4 interwoven strips that are gradually expanded with the addition of more to create the 'plantilla' (the circle that forms the top of the hat).

When the plantilla is big enough, it is placed on a wooden block. The weaver bends over and places his chest on top of the block, holding it in place as he continues to weave the hat. When the weaver then reaches the very outside of the brim he leaves five or six inches of excess straw around the edges. 



The 'rematadora' then completes the brim by weaving the straws in towards the crown, in order to create a band around the outside.

 The hat is then tightened by the 'azocador'.

 After washing and bleaching, it’s over to the 'apaleador' to pound the hats with a wooden mallet, to soften them. This allows the hats their flexibility and ability to roll without snapping or cracking.