Paper Braid Hats

Do you know the differences between different paper braids that are used to make hats? It is not as simple as it would seem as first. So here is a little background: To make the paper strands that will be woven into the brands, huge rolls of soft colored paper are sliced into thin rolls. Then the thin rolls are unrolled and the flat paper is twisted into strings. The strings are then braided. OK, now that you know the general plan, here are some details: The original idea for making paper braids (Toyo) came from Japan, but now the experts are in Taiwan with the Chinese close behind. There are several different thicknesses of paper that can be used for hats. The lightest is 18 pounds, more common is 22 pounds. 20 pound paper is also possible. In China 18 pound is not currently generally used (it is in Taiwan). The lighter the paper, obviously, the lighter the braid. The heaviness of the braid can also be affected by how wide are the strips that the paper is cut into before they are twisted into twine. it is not unusual for the strips to be 0.7cm to 1.2cm, though some machines can be adjusted to cut strips as thin as 0.6cm. For most hats 0.7 or 0.8 centimeters is common. In addition to the weight of the hat you should be aware of the material going into the braids. The machines that braid the paper usually hold from 9 strands of paper plus 4 strands of thread to 13 strands of paper plus 6 of thread. Some machines that are very rare in China will make a thinner braid of 7 strands of paper and 4 of thread. The thread is cotton or polyester, or it can be a clear monofilament like used for fishing line. The monofilament made from polypropylene (sometimes just called PP). Since it is clear it picks up the color of the paper in the hat, so the thread itself seems to change color. Currently most braid makers are using 22 pound paper and about half the time they use polypropylene for the thread. They say the stiffness of the heavier paper helps the bigger hats keep their shape. (Also in bigger hats for easy shape adjustment the hat maker will run a metal or plastic wire around the edge of the brim.) Some of the more fine hats, including the Rainbow Sombreros we carry are made with very light weight paper and no PP. We use 18 weight paper cut to 0.6cm and only 7 strands of paper and 4 of cotton in our Sombreros. That is why the cost is a little higher than for the run of the mill paper hat!

Read more... | Published: 02/14/10