The art of making braided straw hats is a process invented hundreds of years ago. The straws are braided together and then wrapped into a hat shape. The modern method of creating a braided hat is less complicated than the original, because it is possible to create a form for the hat made from embroidery plastic. After braiding the straw, it is then sewed to the plastic form to give the hat additional stability. However, if you want to make the hat the traditional way, don’t use the plastic and instead form the hat from the straw alone by sewing the sections of the straw together into a hat shape.
Soak the straw in a bucket of lukewarm water for 24 hours.
Braid 9 pieces of straw at a time into a traditional, three-part braid. Use three straws per braid section. Stagger the lengths of the straw pieces. When you reach about 6-inches away from the end of each straw piece, place a new straw piece against the first and continue braiding. This will enable the straw braid to be in one continual line. Make each braid about 36 inches long. Tie string around the ends of each braid. Make a total of about 10 braids.
Soak the braids in water overnight.
Cut a 12-inch wide oval from embroidery plastic for the top of the hat. Make a 6-inch wide rectangle as long as the circumference of the 12-inch oval. Cut a second oval with the inside opening as wide as the top oval. Measure out 4 inches from this oval shape and cut a doughnut shape to make the hat brim. Cut out the same pieces from felt, except the brim piece.
While the straw is still wet, wrap it around the hat brim starting from the outside edge and working toward the middle like a coiled rug. Sew the hat to the plastic rim with a needle threaded with fishing line. Sew straw to the other hat pieces as well. Sew a layer of straw on each side of the brim piece.
Sew the pieces of the hat together. Sew the rectangle piece around the hat top. Sew the brim to the base of the rectangle piece. Allow the hat to dry for 48 hours.
Glue the felt pieces inside the hat with craft glue. Allow the glue to dry for 24 hours before wearing the hat.