Why would so simple a garment as a straw hat have a day of its own? Well now, that’s just what we’re here to answer! Straw hats have been found in almost every culture throughout the world, with different styles and techniques used to make them as needed for that area’s needs. The reasons for their use may be surprising to you, as well as the tenacity with which they’ve remained a rather standard piece of attire even into the modern age. Straw Hat Day commemorates these amazing pieces of headwear, so hang on as we discuss:

History of Straw Hat Day

When we say that the straw hat goes back a very long way and is part of just about every culture in the world, we aren’t kidding. Straw hats are known to go back to before the Middle Ages all throughout the West and into the Orient. Since then, numerous styles have appeared, and some of them are so important that they have become indelibly tied to a culture or a place, and in some cases a person.

When most Americans think of the Panama Hat, they immediately think of Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt, the iconic American President responsible both for the building of the Panama Canal, and the inspiration for the ‘Teddy Bear’. Then there is the mokorotlo, a hat that is part of the traditional garb of the Sotho (South Africa & Lesotho) people. This straw hat is so important to their culture that it has become their national symbol, even appearing on their flag and license plates.

These hats are fantastic in their flexibility of use, if you’re in an area where you want to keep the sun off your head but you also what your head to be able to breathe, a loosely woven straw hat is just the thing you need. On the other hand if you live in a rainy climate and want something to keep your (sometimes rather intense) rains off your head, you go for a tightly woven straw hat like those found in Japan and China. Needless to say, there’s as many designs and uses for these hats as there are people!

How to celebrate Straw Hat Day

Straw Hat Day is best celebrated by going out and getting yourself a new straw hat! You can find them in almost any size, shape, and even material. Whether you go for a traditional straw hat made from wheat straw, or something more exotic like the Baku Straw hat made from stalks of the Talipot Palm, Straw Day is your chance to add to your wardrobe and experience a new art! You can even make your own if you’re feeling particularly adventurous!

How to make your own straw hat

If you want to make your own straw hat to celebrate this day, you are going to need the following…

  • Needle and thread
  • Seam ripper
  • Braided straw
  • Tape
  • Scissors
  • Cardboard
  • Pencil
  • Graph paper
  • Pen and paper
  • Measuring tape

The first thing you will need to do is graph some graph paper and figure out the design for the hat that you are going to create. You can create your own design, base it on a historical design, or you can simply find a design to copy by searching on the Internet. Try to draw the heat to scale whereby every square of the graph paper is equal to one inch. This will make it a lot easier for you when it comes to creating the hat.

Once you have finsihed drawing your straw hat on the graph paper, you need to transfer the design to cardboard. Now, you will be drawing out the pattern pieces, but they are going to need to be to the correct scale. Use tape to put all of the pattern pieces together, enabling you to determine whether or not your straw hat design is going to be feasible. At this point, you may need to make a few adjustments before you continue.

Next, you need to get the straw braid. This is something that can be purchase from a fabric or craft store. You may even decide that you want to pick apart something in your house that is made from straw. This could be some placemats, for instance, or it could even be an old straw hat that you wish to revamp into something new. If you do decide to do this, make sure that you are careful when you are picking these items apart, as you don’t want to damage the straw braid itself. 

You can then straw to sew the pieces of braid together, using the cardboard pattern pieces as a guide. Law the straw braid flat, coiling around it in a flat and small circle. Use the thread to secure it in place by sewing through the edges of the braid. Keep sewing the braid together, creating a bigger and bigger circle, until you have a piece that matches the pattern. 

Sew plaits to the crown at a 90-degree angle. Keep working down until the side panels are created. Keep fitting the hat to your head while you are making it to check that it is going to fit you.

To create the brim, you will need to work your way either from the hat opening to the outside of the brim or from the outside of the brim to the hat opening. Once all of the individual pieces have been created, you can then sew them together, with the seams and raw edges on the interior of the hat. You then need to fit the opening of the brim. Make sure you don’t do this too tight! And voila; you should have a stunning straw hat, which you can definitely be proud of!

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Every May 15th
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