Panama Hat Factory

As part of our city tour, we went to a Panama hat factory. This was much more interesting than I would have expected.

Leaves are harvested
Curled
Boiling leaves

Long leaves are picked and rolled a little to curl them. Then they are boiled and then dried and dyed. There are a lot of colors that they use.

Once the leaves are dried again, they are woven by hand into the shape for the hat. Cheap hats start at $35 at the factory, much more other places, although there are vendors on the street that offer them for less…and you can even watch them working on a hat.

More expensive hats use smaller “threads” of leaves to weave so that they are softer and have a more finished look.

Weaving finished, needs trimming, washing, drying, shaping, and hat band.
One machine for shaping; you can see shapes on the shelves.

Once the hat is woven and trimmed, it is washed in large vats and then dried. Then there are a number of steps to shape the brim and head part with steam.

Hat bands are added in this room.

The final step is to add the hat band.

This same process is used for bags and even clothing. Here is a wedding dress  and flowers which were made in the same way.

Many famous people wear hats from this factory including Madonna, Morgan Freeman, Johnny Depp, and others. (Sorry the pictures aren’t very good.)

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