Nothing beats casually strolling down the beach, spending time on the golf course, or enjoying the sights and sounds of the city while looking radiant in a one-of-a-kind Panama hat. Then again, making a style statement is grueling work. There could be instances where things don’t go well enough for your Panama Hat - like a gust of wind defacing it, or you accidentally sitting over and ruin its shape.
Though it is frustrating to see a lopsided hat, it sure is not the end of it. By nature, Panama hats are quite fragile with regard to shape maintenance like with any woven product. But since the hat is made of tightly-knitted straw, it is also quasi-elastic with moldable properties, making it likely for us to bring back it to shape.
Take Proper Care of Your Hand-Woven Straw Hat
To ensure your intricately woven hat is always in perfect condition, care must be taken to retain its signature shape and style, and make it an ideal accessory in your ensemble. It takes time for a luxury straw hat to be made into a unique work of art by a skilled artisan. Handmade summer and winter hats made with such care should be treated with the respect that went into their creation. The hand-woven toquilla straw fibers are delicate, and they must be appropriately handled to avoid damage to their natural beauty.
Your straw hat may become misshapen from improper handling, transportation, and storage. Exposing the hat to excessive moisture levels, allowing the hat to become too dried out, incorrectly attempting to repair the hat’s shape, and poor cleaning practices are mistakes that hat owners often make, further contributing to a distorted appearance. Hat-lovers can give their straw hats the love they truly deserve by following a few simple steps to assure that their hat is always ready for a beautiful day in the sun and with them for many years. Check out our article Caring For Your Hat for more tips on how to keep your Panama hat in top condition.
If the damage under question is on the crown and is negligible, such issues must be instantly fixable. You can use your hands to gently press out any folds or dents on the surface, use copious amounts of tissue paper to line the crown for a few hours to ensure the straw strands adjust to the new shape.
Restoring a Straw Hat’s Shape: The Steam Method
Starting out, it is essential to check if your straw hat needs steaming. Try squeezing the crown and feeling around the hat’s brim, just to see if you feel the strands to be stiffer or you hear minuscule cracks within the straw fabric.
Maintaining or reshaping your hat to a perfect fit, can be done solely by directing steam at the hat’s periphery. You can steam your hat right at home - it is a straightforward process and takes very little time, and thus knowing the technique would serve you well. For instance, this skill could help you shape up your hat right in time for attending a special event.
Moisten and Steam Your Hand-Woven Straw Hat
To rid your straw hat of unwanted wrinkles, fix an undesirable crooked shape, or adjust the hat size, simply apply steam to give your hat the right amount of moisture needed to look its best.
As long as the hand-woven straw hat lacks inner wiring, using the steam method will not cause it damage. Be sure to check inside before applying hot steam to your favorite straw hat. With that disclaimer out of the way, steaming a hat can be done in several different ways.
The most professional way to steam your hat would be to use steamer tools that are customized to suit the straw fabric. Though not many households have steamers, there are other do-it-yourself techniques to look after your hat.
Lesson 101, straw hats are extremely malleable when they are steam ironed. The easiest way is to iron a straw hat, making sure the temperature is set to the lowest and with the steam mode switched on.
If you are not too sure of ironing out the delicate hat, you could take it to the bathroom when you are about to enter a hot and steamy bath. Set the hat on the bathroom counter and in about 15 minutes of the shower faucet turned on, the hat would have had its necessary steam nourishment. Make sure you take out the hat with you once you are done with the bath, as prolonged exposure to steam might cause the straw to grow molds.
Another option would be to use the steam from a tea-kettle to moisten the straw. Make sure the water comes to boil before taking it off the stove. To prevent personal injury from the hot steam and to keep the hat from being exposed to direct heat, hold the kettle’s spout at a safe distance of 6-8 inches. Trace the spout around the surface of the hat for a few minutes, concentrating on moistening the hat in a way that you actually feel a pleasant difference when you hold it.
Make sure the straw material is damp all throughout, then smooth and reshape any imperfections with your hands. To repair the brim, apply a heavy object to flatten curled edges. Once you have restored your hat to the desired shape, allow for the hat to cool and dry.
In essence, it would be good to remind yourself that owning a Panama hat, or any straw hat for that matter, would be about taking constant care of the hat at regular intervals, even when it sits idle in your cabinet. Straw hats are sensitive to the environment they are stored in, with frequent room temperature changes causing the strands to get brittle. And in regions of low humidity and high temperature, it is critical to have the hats steamed regularly and carefully conditioned - to make sure the crown does not lose its flexibility, and the brim does not witness cracks along its seam.