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Hat Weaves & Grades

An example of a fine weave brisa hat being woven over a wooden hat block.

When one begins to learn about Panama Hats, one of the first topics of discussion is the variety of weaves and grades used to make the hats. Pachacuti’s skilled weavers are extraordinarily talented and are able to hand-weave a wide variety of patterns to create hats of the finest quality or ones with colourful designs and textures.

A skilled weaver separating individual pieces of straw into thinner strands to weave into a fine Brisa hat.
Assessing the weave count of a fine llano hat.

The quality of a Panama Hat is determined by the fineness and evenness of it’s weave along with the quality and colour of the straw. In simple terms the finer the weave, the finer the hat. Finer weaves are achieved by using thinner individual fibres separated from the strands of toquilla straw to weave the hat. Hats with a finer weave are more flexible, roll easily and are less prone to damage. However hats with a finer weave take much longer to produce and prices reflect this. Reducing the width of the straw by half multiplies the amount of work by four so to produce a hat twice as fine takes four times as long. For example a Standard Brisa Fedora takes 8-9 hours to process the straw and weave, whilst a  Fine Brisa Rollable Fedora generally takes 4-5 days depending on the skill and speed of the weaver.

The weave itself should be even and regular with no gaps or bumps. Ideally every straw should be the same width and fit together and the rows should be straight and even.  Some irregularity is unavoidable in hand woven hats, a reflection of an individual weaver’s personal style. It is also usual for weave density to decrease slightly from the crown of the hat to the brim although this can be reduced by the addition of extra fibres during the weaving. Variations also occur in straw thickness, length and colour.

Panama Hat Weaves

The two most common styles of weave which are used to produce the classic Panama hat are called – Brisa and Llano. They can be difficult to tell apart at first sight.

The Brisa weave is characterised by a regular diamond pattern and produces a very lightweight hat. We use the Brisa weave as our standard weave and also for our fine weave rollable hats.

The Llano weave is a herringbone weave and has a more densely woven structure resulting in a more durable and smoother surface. The Llano weave produces a finer result however, due to its more intricate design, takes longer to produce and thus results in more expensive hats. We use the Llano weave in our Fine weave and our Aficionado and Connoiseur  weaves.

An example of brisa weave.
An example of llano weave.

We offer two additional weaves, the Twisted  and Crochet, which are very popular due to their qualities of being rollable, durable and affordable. They produce more casual style hats in comparison to the more refined woven Brisa or Llano weaves.  This is due to the textural surface of the Twisted and Crochet weaves.

To make a Twisted straw hat, the weaver will twist the straw fibres in a twine-like fashion as the plait the hat base.  This technique creates a hat that is durable, flexibe and well-ventilated due to its open style weave. The twisted weave produces a rollable hat and with it’s affordable and casual style makes it great choice for travel.

Crochet weave produces our most durable style of hat. Entire strands of the  toquilla straw are hand-crocheted in the same way as wool yarn is used to produce a bobble hat.  A hat made with our crochet weave will flexible, robust and easy to put back into shape so it’s perfect for people with active lifestyles, such as gardeners, ramblers, backpackers and surfers.

An example of twisted weave.
An example of crochet weave.