How to Make a Chinese Straw Hat

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Weave your own conical straw hat.
Weave your own conical straw hat. (Image: hats image by Alexey Stiop from Fotolia.com)

Chinese straw hats, also called coolie hats, feature a conical shape with a wide brim. Chinese farmers often wear them to keep the sun from their eyes, much like straw hats in other parts of the world. You can make your own coolie hat at home with just a few simple supplies and a little bit of time.

Things You'll Need

  • Oak tag
  • Mathematical compass
  • Ruler
  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • Weaving straw
  • Paperclips
  • Super Glue

Pull the drawing arm of your compass out until it reaches a 12-inch radius. Place the sharp point of your compass on the oak tag and move the arm around it in an even circle, creating a 24-inch wide circle.

Draw a line from the center to the edge in two places, making a wedge that takes up about a sixth of the circle. Cut out the wedge and fold the sides of the cut angle toward each other, overlapping them slightly. Tape the edges together to make a form for your hat.

Place the center of a piece of weaving straw on the tip of your cone hat form; the ends of the straw should hang about 1 inch beyond the edge of the form. Paperclip the ends into place and repeat five more times, spacing the straw evenly around the hat. Weaving straw is flat and pliable and available at craft stores.

Pick a sixth piece of weaving straw and slide one end beneath one of the straws on the form, as close to the tip as you can get it. Weave it over and under the straws, moving downward as necessary to make new rows. Keep the rows as close together as possible.

Continue, adding straws as necessary, until you reach the edge of the hat form. Glue the end of each straw down to make sure your hat stays together, adhering them to another straw and not to the oak tag.

Gently remove your paper clips and lift the hat from the form. Fold the straws sticking out of the bottom of the hat around the edge to the inside of the hat and glue them down as well. Your hat is ready to paint or wear.

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