How to Make Japanese Straw Hats

Sugegasa, also known as sedge hats or rice paddy hats, are conical Japanese hats made from straw or bamboo. This style of hat, which also comes from China, Vietnam and Korea, is most often used to protect the face from both sunny and rainy weather. Although the hat is usually used as everyday wear for laborers, in the West it has been adopted as a practical accessory for gardeners. To learn how to make your own Japanese straw hat, complete the following instructions.

Things You'll Need

  • Long, thin strips of bamboo or straw
  • Bamboo leaves
  • Hat model
  • Embroidery needle
  • Embroidery thread

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Buy a conical hat form, or an existing sugegasa hat, to use as a hat model that will help you create the shape of your Japanese straw hat. If you cannot find a useable hat model, create your own using card stock and duct tape. Cut the card stock into many long strips and layer them on top of one another, following a circular pattern that fans outward. Use a photo reference of a conical hat to get the shape just right. Apply the duct tape to the strips of card stock to hold the shape, then cover the entire model in a layer of duct tape to protect it during use.

Lay out your bamboo and cut it into long, thin strips. If you have decided to work in straw instead, use a good quality millinery straw that can withstand the hatmaking process, not just any feed straw or hay. Soak your chosen material overnight in warm water so that it will become pliable and will not break when you try to shape it.

Build the hat's framework. Take a bundle of bamboo or straw and lay 6 strips flat on your work surface, perpendicular to the edge of the table that is facing you. Weave another strip diagonally through those 6, right in the center. Weave another strip in the same way, in the opposite direction, so that it makes an "X" at the exact center. Weave 2 more strips adjacent to the other diagonal strips, about 1/2 inch away. Keep to this pattern until you have 4 diagonal strips on each side of the center point.

Hold the hat model on your lap. Lay your framework from Step 3 over the top of the hat model, matching the center point with the point of the cone and shaping it around the model. If necessary, wet the strips again so that they bend more easily. Continue the pattern from Step 3, adding more vertical strips as necessary, until you cover the entire hat model.

Weave another long strip of straw or bamboo around the brim of the hat, folding the hanging edges of your framework down. Fold the edges up again and weave another long strip around the brim to hold them in place. Clip the remaining loose edges. If the form does not hold, you may need to secure the brim with hot glue or tough embroidery thread.

Lay 6 strips of your hat material over the hat vertically, placing them equally around the cone. Let the strips create a point where they meet at the top of the hat, and tie them together at this point with the embroidery thread. If desired, add more bulk to the hat with more strips of straw, or lay bamboo leaves over the hat in the same pattern and tie them in place.

References

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