I absolutely ADORE Panama straw hats. Click here to go to a page which will explain why these hats are so deserving to be cherished.
This hat frame was my first encounter with Panama straw.
I found it in an antique/junque shop, the crown battered in, and with an interior label of "Sally Victor". It had a plain straw colored ribbon hat band as its only trim. Price was set at a mere $12.
I had just begun what I call "Millinery School" (one class, community college) and had just learned that straw would re-shape if subjected to steam. I carefully checked to be sure none of the straw was broken. It was flawless.
I rushed home, snipped off the sweat band and label, and the exterior hat band. I steamed the hat up, and plopped it on my head to make it fit just right. My ribbon collection at the time was meager, and certainly did not contain the appropriate petersham or millinery belting type ribbon that will accept pressing and a swirl stretch to accommodate the curve of the hat crown.
Oh well, I just went ahead and used some woven cotton trim for the internal sweat band. Sally's label was tucked into my scraps.
We were far enough into the class that I had already scouted out ribbonry books from Houston Public Library, and I was itching to try out some of the techniques that we had learned in class. I had so much fun trimming this hat! I even used some of my grandmother's buttons.
I couldn't wait to show Kate Pernia, my revered instructor.
The next class session we covered famous milliners. Like Elsa Schiaparelli ; Lily Dache ; Mr. John ; and (***gasp***)
Surely I had committed millinery murder.
Kate granted me pardon and absolution, and added assurance that Sally would be very happy to see her hat treated so well. And it is. It is treasured for the work of the Ecuadorian weaver, for Sally's original shaping, for my grandmother's buttons, and for the joy of collaboration.