Sometime I started to think about adding a coat or a jacket in my collection. I don’t remember defining it more specifically then. It had no name either as none of my garments did at that point. At some point it got a working title: robe coat. And again, as so often, the final garment didn’t look like the original design except for some parts.
First picture is a photo of the first sketch. After making a mockup I noticed it went wrong. The design had to be changed. Hem was too stiff and besides I got a better idea: I want a long dramatic hem. But it had shape and I wanted to keep it. But is shape ok in a hem that almost reaches the ground? Besides, people are different of height. If I make one that fits well for me will it look as good on someone shorter… Maybe not. Straight it shall be. All thought the hem will be so long anyway that the risk it will touch the ground still exists. But that is (also) why I have offered to modify my garments according to customer’s wishes.
Coat started to look like a cloak. As far as I remember at that time I hadn’t yet found a fabric so I couldn’t really take that into account. Sure I knew I wanted linen, but what kind would I be able to get was still a mystery. Linen usually is not stretchy so one worry was how to get enough space in the back so the coat wouldn’t rip the first time one sits behind a wheel of car or reaches a garbage bag from the floor.
I had drawn a coat that was open. Somehow it should be closed, right? But nothing inspired me. Do I put buttons in it? Do I have to put anything? Well, no. I thought that I would wear it open myself anyway. So why put buttons if they are left unused. What if someone else wants buttons? Deep breath of despair. Maybe I’m not the only one who wears their coat open.
In some point of designing an idea of a light non-lined, cloak-like coat was starting to form. I had brainstormed some hoods earlier trying to figure how to make a hood interesting. In those sketches was one I wanted to use. That was a hood with lacing because I thought it would go well with the medieval feeling of the cloak. I had tried it with another garment earlier and had noticed it was pretty heavy. But since the cloak was also heavy it might not be a problem. Pockets were easy as they were so simple (i.e. accidentally got in the right place at the first try) and I liked them. The detail on the shoulder I had designed before. I had drawn that detail in other sketches of coats and it looked so nice I wanted to add it. And the second mockup looked good.
Always when designing garments one has to design it’s structure as well. So what kind of seams will there be, how to build the hood, pockets, lacing et cetera. And what about edges? One has to think about everything and if anything is unusual or never been done before it has to be tested. Fabric and it’s behavior must also be considered as well as how will the garment be maintained. Do these points affect the design? After the first piece has been sewn there may be changes that need to be done in the pattern. I was thinking this cloak might not need to be washed often. Although it probably wouldn’t matter because wrinklyness might not be disturbing in this design. I didn’t want seams to be visible from under the long hem so I sewed them flat. Biggest problem in sewing was how to get long seam neat as linen has a tendency to stretch while sewing and become wavy.
Finally the cloak was done. Except for the name. The cloak looks gloomy so it needed a gloomy name. I was comparing the vibes of different words like kalma (death), horna (abyss), tuoni (also death, there are many names for a dear child, as we say in Finland) and ended up with marras (death:D). Something in that word sounded right. Kalma would have been nice, but then I remembered the grim reaper with his (her?) cloak and instantly it sounded corny. Horna was not convincing (too epic I guess). And Tuoni sounded too delicate (and ended up as a name for another garment). Marras on the other hand sounded really good in all it’s gloomyness.
What is marras? It is dead. That word is not much used anymore in Finnish. It can be used to describe a dead or dying person or dead or lifeless when speaking about nature. It can also mean omens of death such as birds or wild animals behaving oddly. November translates to marraskuu (kuu = month, month of death, not even joking:D) in Finnish and there are two theories why. Here in Finland nature dies after summer in November, but on the other hand in November all ghosts or spirits of the dead are on the move. Still in this day they are remembered on All Hallow’s Day on the first weekend of November.
Sources for chapter “What is marras?” (in Finnish, translations are my own):