The Last Straw!

Great Story & Photos for ALL Hat Aficionado’s

Rewired and Retired in Nicaragua

IMG_2980Who knew? Panama hats, woven from the straw of the toquilla plant, are from Ecuador! In Ecuador they don’t call them Panamas. They call them sombreros de paja toquilla. The origin of this misnomer comes from the hat’s widespread use by the workers who built the Panama Canal  from 1904-1914.

Cuenca, Ecuador produces the finest Panama hats. When a friend asked me to buy him a finely woven Panama hat, we visited the factory. The best hats are custom made. Depending on the weaver and how fine the hat is woven, it could take anywhere from 1-6 months to complete.

Once the basic hat is woven, the process takes about an hour, cutting, inserting a headband, pressing, and gluing.
IMG_4371I chose an off white woven hat, and it was placed in a hat press for a few minutes to shape it.
IMG_4375She enjoyed demonstrating each step of the hat making process.

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