Straw hats have been around for centuries. No one knows exactly when their history began. There's evidence of something similar to a straw hat, an inverted fez-type hat called a Stephanos on a Greek terra-cotta sculpture that dates back to 700 B.C. Straw hats appeared in Shakespeare's plays in the 1600s, and in editions of women's fashion publications from the eighteenth century on. They were the rage in the United States in the late 1800s in the form of the Panama hat. The straw hat is still popular today, in many forms. Why wait? Create fashion history of your own and make straw hats.
Things You'll Need
Pen and paper
Braided straw (either found or bought—see Step 4)
Needle and thread
Work out the design for your straw hat on graph paper. You can base it on a historical design, or you can create your own design. Try to do it to a scale in which each square of the graph paper equals 1 inch.
Transfer your design to cardboard. Draw out the pattern pieces, but to the proper scale. Tape all the pattern pieces together so you can check out the feasibility of your straw hat design. Make any adjustments before continuing.
Acquire straw braid from which to make your straw hat. You can either buy rolls of straw braid from a craft store or a fabric store. You can also pick apart something existing such as a place mat or even an old hat. Be careful when you pick apart these items that your seam ripper does not damage the straw braid itself.
Use the cardboard pattern pieces as a guide and begin to sew the straw braid together. Lay the straw braid flat and coil it around in a small, flat circle. Secure it in place with thread by sewing through the edges of the braid. Continue sewing the braid together, making a larger and larger circle, until it matches the crown pattern piece.
Sew plaits to the crown at a 90-degree angle. Continue working downward until you create the side panels. Fit the hat to your head as you make the straw hat to make sure it fits you.
Create the brim by working your way either from the outside of the brim to the hat opening or from the hat opening to the outside of the brim. Create all the individual pieces of the straw hat first and then sew them together, with the raw edges and seams on the inside of the hat. Fit the brim's opening to make sure you don't make it too tight.
Try a more difficult technique when making a straw hat. Sew the straw braid together so that your straw hat is made from one continuous piece instead of individual pieces sewn together.
Decorate your straw hat with ribbons or flowers or both.