Did you know that toquilla straw hats, also erroneously called Panama hats, are all made in Ecuador, its real name is Montecristi hat, name attributed by the city where Montecristi-Manabí-Ecuador are woven.
In 2012, UNESCO declared Straw Hats as Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Making everyone know the true story of straw hats. This recognition also helped Ecuadorian families who are dedicated to the art of making hats, generating more sales, more work, and more income.
The Hats of Montecristi are a 100% natural handicraft and made entirely by hand, by which the process can take 2 to 6 months depending on their fabric. Then I will detail the process of making the hats of Montecristi or toquilla straw.
First proceed to go to the plantations of the palm "Carludovica Palmata", also known as straw toquilla, the person in charge to collect the raw material, must extract the stem or the stem of the palm, only the young stems of the palms are used that have not yet been opened. once collected, it will proceed to open the stem, with a special tool with (metallic needle) showing the internal fibers, which will then be used as straw in the creation of the hat.
Then we proceed to cook the fibers for 25 minutes in an aluminum pot. Use two sticks to keep the stem submerged and move the straw constantly.
Once the fibers have been cooked, they are dried. The weavers hang them and hang them on strings to dry them with the sun. The fibers stay for hours or days, depending on the amount of straw.
To start knitting a Montecristi hat, you start with the selection of the straw that is going to work. Here color, finesse and length are taken into account.
The weave of a Toquilla straw hat starts with the crusade: join two fibers, then put another pair on top, overlap a third and fourth pair, weaving one under the other, at that rate you will get the template or upper part of the crown.
To weave the rest of the crown, we will need an aluminum mold or carved wood, which should be heated with steam or fire. Then we must weave the body of the crown down, tighten it well, and finally weave the wing.
To make the final step or the finish of the Straw Hat, first it must be soaked so that its fibers are loosened. Knitting the edge of the loose straw hat, is a special weave called "back weave", here the craftsman or weaver must reinforce or tighten the edge so that the hat does not fray. The squeeze the fabric 3 times more, are 3 full turns around the edge of the wing, each time the fabric is tightened a little more.
Then the hat goes to the cutter, the long straw is cut at the end of the wing, the hat is turned over and the loose straw is cut. It proceeds to wash; With the help of a soap and brush it is rubbed everywhere.
To whiten the hats, put the hat in a barrel, then cover with cloth, and place sulfur under the hat. It will be left overnight in the sulfur smoke.
Then, it proceeds to be 'beaten' on a stone with sulfur, which is milled as it is struck. This procedure is done to soften the hats with a wooden mallet.
After beaten the hat, it is cleaned to remove the sulfur and placed on a mold to iron them and eliminate any wrinkles they have. At this point we will define the straw hat model; decide if you make a model Fedora, Borsalino etc.
After this process the hats are put on sale. It is distributed nationally and internationally; the final consumer buys a Montecristi hat depending on the quality of it.
The best known models of the Ecuadorian Hats are: Borsalino, Chemise, Colonial, Fedora, among others. There is also a variety of colors such as ivory white, honey, coffee, pastel colors, among others.
The Montecristi hat (Panama hat) is sold in more than 25 countries around the world. It is a product from Ecuador, woven 100% by hand in Montecristi, province of Manabí.
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