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Preparation processes of Montecristi Hat (Panama Hat)

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A hat of Ecuadorian origin, specifically in Manabí, dating back more than 400 years. An ancestral knowledge that has been passed down from generation to generation, perfecting this valuable fabric. But it is not only about weaving, to obtain a fine Montecristi hat, but a process is also required that goes from the planting of toquilla straw (Carludovica palmata) to the final finishes of a finished fine hat.

In the natural humid forest

The beginning takes place in the humid forests of the Manabi coast, where the toquilla palm lives in its natural state. This plant grows between 1.5 and 2 meters, and at 3 years it is ready to harvest its leaves.

When the buds are selected, they must be chosen correctly. For if they are too young there will not be enough material, but if they are too old they will no longer be used to form a straw.

Toquilla straw

Bud selection

After having selected the buds, the trimmings are carried out, where expert hands and eyes spread and extract the fibers of the straw shawl from each bud, this material is classified and then proceeds to the cooking stage.

At this stage of the process, the straw is cooked for 7 to 10 minutes to remove all greenish color. Once the cooking process is finished, the toquilla straw is placed to dry in the room, since it is ready to start weaving. 

Bud selection - Panama Hats

Hand Weave

To begin the weave, 8 fibers are taken and then 8 more fibers are taken, making a total of 16 fibers until obtaining a template. From there begins the formation of a fine hat. Once the template is ready, it is placed in a wooden mold to continue its elaboration, the elaboration time depends on the fineness of the hat.

To begin the weaving of the cup, 8 fibers are taken and then 8 more fibers are taken, making a total of 16 fibers to weave. This is how it is woven until the wings are formed, there we get to obtain the hat template.

Hand-Weave Panama Hats

Azoke and washing of the Hat

To continue with the process, it is necessary to remove the hat, before finishing the weave of a fine hat, it is necessary to moisten the edges of the hat between 10 to 15 minutes, this is so that the fiber is very soft and has a good finished, this work takes approximately 30 minutes each hat, if it is a finer hat, it will take about 2 hours.

Then it is washed with a block of normal white soap, it consists of removing the dirt from the hat and it is done for about 5 minutes each hat. This will leave it flawless.

Descoronado, smoked and drying the hats

It consists of cutting all the straw that is inside the hat so that there are no imperfections. To smoke the fine hats they have to be wet so that the sulfur penetrates the fibers and remains as white as possible. It is placed in an aluminum container with sulfur and then lit with charcoal embers.

Then it is removed from the smokehouse oven to dry again and thus it is ready for the next step, ironing the cup and the skirt of the hat.

Lying down, beaten, and ironing of the hat

This lying-down procedure consists of ironing the crown and the skirt of the hat. Then, the hat is beaten, with a wooden masseter on a very smooth stone, 5 hats are sprayed with sulfur for 30 minutes, this helps to soften the hat until it is very smooth like silk.

Then wipe it with a cloth to remove the sulfur and iron it again. 

Panama hats

The top and skirt of the hat are re-ironed to make it smooth and can be shaped into different styles. To give the design to a thin hat, an aluminum mold is heated at high temperatures, the mold is chosen according to the size of the customer's head.

After heating the hat, take it to iron for about 4 minutes until it is well ironed. Montecristi hats are molded by hand, this requires a time of about 15 minutes for each design.

Final finishes

The inner or brown tape is placed, this is to protect the sweat from the head. The outer tape is according to the client's taste. Each fine hat sold in our store is marked with its respective ECUADORIANHAND label, an original hat 100% made in Montecristi.

All our hats are packaged in the best conditions so that the shipment does not spoil its original shape and retain its fine features intact.

panama hats

Did you know?

In 2012 UNESCO declared hats as Cultural Material Heritage of Humanity. Making the true history of toquilla straw hats known to everyone. This recognition also helped Ecuadorian families who are dedicated to the art of making hats, generating more sales, more work, and more income.

Montecristi Hats are a 100% natural craft and made entirely by hand, if you want to know a little more about the origin of the toquilla straw hat, do not miss this interesting article, The true history of the toquilla straw hat.

 How To Measure For A Hat?

First, Measure Your Head Circumference: To measure your head circumference, take a sewing measuring tape or even a string, and wrap around above the ears and across your eyebrows. Please stick your finger under the tape so there is a little room and there you have head circumference! If you fall between measurements go for the next size up. Record your measurement in centimeters, if possible for the most accuracy.

Find Your Hat Size with the corresponding size on the below hat chart

panama hat size chat

What is the average hat size for men?

59 CM, or Large.

What is the average hat size for women?

57 cm, or Medium.

What size head does an XL hat fit?

Up to 61cm, or 24” circumference.

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