The Process

The Making of Panama Hats

The Process Begins...

Only young fronds are cut to convert into strands. Once the fronds are split into fine strands, they are boiled in water for a period of time until subtle, and then dried in shade. Once this process is finished, the strands are examined and split into groups according to the fibers fineness and coloring. Now they're ready to be sold to weavers.

The Weaving...

Weaving is an art that has been passed from generation to generation for over 400 years. This family tradition starts at an early age soon making the weavers experts in their trade. Before weavers begin creating a hat, the strands of "Paja Toquilla" collected are selected according to the whitening, dimension and fineness of their fibers. To start, the center of the crown is created using only a few fibers. After more straws are added to form the crown, they continue to add to form the hat body using a wooden mold to shape it, and then finish with the brim. All of the weaving is done by hand.

Finishing A Piece Of Art…

Particular interweaving is done to the edge of the brim to finish the weaving of each unique hat. This is a special characteristic of a hand-finished panama hat by the artisans in Ecuador. The tied-off fibers at the edge of the brim are tightened and excess fibers are trimmed. The fineness and quantity of fronds used to produce a hat determines its quality.

The Final Step Before Sale…

To flatten and smooth down the fibers, the hats are ironed. "Blocking", or shaping, is followed either with a solid iron and damp cloth or more commonly done now with conventional hat blocking machines to give their shape more uniformity. Sewing in sweat bands, outside bands and fitting any internal reinforcements they might need are the last process.

Now you're ready to own and wear one of these beautiful hand-crafted art works!