Perhaps you think that a few big machines somewhere are automatically cutting up the cloth, weaving the straw, sewing it all together and popping out the finished product. I know, because that’s what I thought too, before going to visit some hat “factories.” There were dozens in a rural area where many so-called peasants make their livings.
One factory was two rooms in the bottom floor of a house. About five women were working there sewing together pieces of straw. The straw had been cut right there too. An electric press pushed down about six cookie-cutter triangular metal shapes into a few layers of straw mats (the cookies!). The quick result was straw mat cutouts that could then be sewn together with some fabric strips. The sewing was all done with regular sewing machines like grandma might have.
The hat coming out of this factory was a straw hat that could be folded to store flat.
Another factory in a different place was much larger. It was a cement building with lots of space tucked behind some other buildings down a narrow driveway. This factory also had a few women sewing all their hats. These hats were made from strips of fabric that were sewn in a circle from the center of the crown around and around until the brim was finished. The strips can be thin or thick.
They are sewn on a regular sewn machine by a woman with a lot of skill. She needs the skill because somehow as she angles the fabric ribbons and goes around and around, she is able to make the hat have the shape of a bell. She is able also to make sure that the hat is the right size of about 56 cm around. As she spins the ribbon strips quickly around, the hat takes shape. First the crown curving down to fit over a head and then the brim flowing. I don’t know how she can make the crown curve down and the brim flow out, but she does!
Next the hat is put on a pressing machine to flatten it out. This machine gets hot. It is attached to a giant pipe that can be turned to raise and lower the press. The machine does one hat at a time and it operated by one person. The only electric part is the heater.
Then, after it is pressed, the maker has to know if he wants the hat to hold its shape or just be completely soft and pliable. If it is supposed to hold its shape, the hat is taken over to a big bucket of water. Into this bucket some plastic pellets had previously been dissolved. The hat is dunked into the bucket, thoroughly sportwetten bonus ohne einzahlung, and taken out to dry in the sun. After it has dried, it is pressed on the heated press again and…. there is your hat.