Saturday, 13 May 2017

Ilkka & Krista of Finland

Ilkka is studying tailoring in a college in central Finland. He came and stayed a few months with me last year at the farmhouse and I watched his love of Japan blossom.

He came back this spring for a few months with is lovely girlfriend Krista. Their enthusiasm for Japan needs a few years to quench. I had a jacket making course on while they were here and they both participated.

Ilkka will be a tailor and he chose the Japanese ideogram symbol for 'needle' for the insignia on the back of his jacket. (The purpose of the large insignia in the Edo period was to quickly differentiate which brigade the fireman belonged to.) Later many kinds of craftsman wore the jackets and used symbols of their trade.

Ilkka was lucky that Eros Nakzato the well-known metal artist/blacksmith dropped by the house and drew the symbol for him with his bold calligraphic hand.

Ilkka then carved the symbol on the persimmon coated stencil paper.

On the band around the bottom of and sides of the jackets he drew the outline of Japanese scissors. The boldness of the pattern is perfect.

The red center is dyed with madder paste. The greys and black are dyed with soot and soy. The body dyed with natural indigo.

You can see the delicate traces of a pine needle insignia on Ilkka's soot dyed collar. They represent the new area in Finland he is moving to.

The weather was cloudy and we needed to start a charcoal fire and swing it under the soya and pigment dyed areas to dry them before adding additional coats. The process never seems to get simpler. The jacket is dyed as one long piece and then cut into sections and sewn together.

Krista opted for something simpler. Just indigo and white on this gorgeous cotton hand spun and handwoven cloth.

In Krista's first jacket she cleverly used the  positive of her tree stencil to create this soot dyed forest in the lining.

The jackets were fully hand-sewn with full indigo-dyed linen linings. I hope the Finns wear these for many many years and I see them in Finland years from now with patched and faded indigo jackets.

I hold these dyeing/sewing courses at the farmhouse once or twice a year for about 8 participants. 2018 looks to be full already but drop me a line if you are interested and I will see what I can do. 


  1. Both jackets are stunning. I'm amazed with the creativity that comes from using these materials!

  2. I´m proud of you both. You will bring back to Finland new ideas with priceless knowhow. Your teacher really has interesting workshops.
    Pirjo aka Ebba

  3. Hello, I just stumbled upon your blog and I'm so happy I did! I will be sure to look around more but I wanted to ask you the name of the tailoring college that Ilkka is studying at in central Finland. I am trying to pursue this path and feel very directionless. Thank you!

    1. Hello, it's Ilkka here. I just found this blog writing myself and it surely put a grin on my face! Thanks for the kind words Bryan. What comes to your question Paloma, I studied in Jyväskylän ammattiopisto. There's only two schools in Finland that teach tailoring and the other one is in Helsinki. Hopefully this very late answer will be of use. I wish you good luck! Follow your bliss.