Book Review | SEW by Ann Ringstrand

Book Review | SEW by Ann Ringstrand

The latest addition to our pattern collection comes courtesy of award winning Swedish designer and founder of clothing label HOPE, Ann Ringstrand. SEW is a modern, fashion forward and design driven sewing book previously only available in Swedish. It has now been translated into English and needless to say we were keen to get our mitts on it as quickly as possible.

Firstly, we love a book. Don’t all creatives love a book? There are many benefits to PDF patterns and we love these too but there is something so grounding and satisfying about actually holding a book in your hands, flicking through the pages and absorbing the story the author has crafted for you. It gives us something to paw and ponder over with a cup of coffee; a jumping point for inspiration and somehow it brings the patterns to life in a way that a PDF pattern can’t. Whenever I bring a new book into the house my daughter runs over, opens it up and smells it. Like really smells it. Enough said.

And this is a beautiful book. It is full of stunning, high quality, fashion photography and a clean crisp layout which makes just browsing through it a joyful, creative experience. The model shots are understated, modern and ooze Ann's minimal, effortless, inclusive style. The garment visuals and construction details are beautifully presented and really highlight her consideration for textiles and the finer details.

But beyond this is the way Ann invites you into her world of fashion and design. The book is a personal journey of her experience as a designer and each garment tells a story. You are left feeling the passion and dedication Ann has for her work and a connection to her garments that is truly inspiring.

"I want this book to encourage you to set everything else aside and lose yourself to the magic of sewing for a while..." - Ann Ringstrand from SEW

As for the designs, Ann has created 10 patterns for key garments including shirts, a dress, a kaftan, trousers, a blazer, a coat and a scarf. The designs are intended to be unisex and as such have a relaxed, androgynous fit. But if you are concerned this means they are ‘masculine’ they are not. We would describe the aesthetic as modern, simple and paired back. Designs which allow the wearer to wear them rather than the other way around. We are very drawn to simple designs here at P.S.C. We believe that to create something simple, functional and beautiful is in fact incredibly difficult and there is no denying that this is something Scandinavian designers seem to excel at.

“Simplicity is the Ultimate Sophistication” - Leonardo da Vinci

The book includes full scale paper patterns for immediate tracing along with step-by-step instructions for sewing them. An important note is that the patterns do not include seam allowances. This is fairly typical of Scandinavian sewing patterns and before you throw your head in your hands there is sound logic to it.

Not having a seam allowance on your paper pattern actually makes pattern adjustments and hacks simpler as you don’t need to think about adding or removing these during the process. In addition, it means you can choose your own seam allowance which may vary depending on the type of seam finish you want to use, the fabric type you are using or the style of the garment you want. It also gives you the opportunity to introduce some flexibility to your garment in certain areas. For example you may want to add extra seam allowance for future proofing (I’m looking at you waistline).

Basically it allows for easier customisation of your garment to suit your needs and preferences. It is a slightly different way of working with a pattern and (as often is the case when we try a new approach) once you do it you might actually find that it deepens your skills and confidence.

Given Ann Ringstrand is a relative newcomer to the Australasian market we highly recommend checking out Sy - Ann Ringstrand a Review by Ingunn, a Norwegian based sewist and blogger, who has made several garments from the book. Her book review is informative and balanced and if you wish to explore some of the garments she also has excellent in depth reviews of the Saint shirt, Base Trouser, Work Trouser, Sleeve Scarf and Skill Blazer.


Pattern + Fabric Spotlight

One of the patterns which definitely gives us future cult status vibes is the Saint Shirt. This not-so-classic take on the classic shirt is minimal, chic and edgy (aka very Scandinavian).

Inspired by menswear it has an oversized cut with exaggerated, one button cuffs and a strong collar. We love the placement of the front pocket which is both oversized and low and the curved hi-low hem is relaxed and modern.

Here are a few of our fabrics that we think would look pretty darn cool in this shirt.

  1. It’s hard to beat a classic white for a shirt like this and our Cotton Slub Muslin has the perfect amount of crispness for this silhouette whilst the slubbiness of the hemp will complement the less conventional nature of this shirt.
  2. If you’re looking for more of a statement our Organic Cotton Oxford with its modern black and white grid would be sure to turn some heads.
  3. Stripes are another no-brainer when it comes to shirts and we have a collection of striped woven fabrics that would turn this into the perfect breezy summer shirt.
  4. Lastly, if you wanted a more luxe look you can’t go past Tencel™. We think the silky, feminine texture of our Smooth Drape Twill would juxtapose beautifully with the more androgynous design elements of this shirt and make for a very high-end looking garment.


    We’d love to see your creations so remember to tag us @paperscissorscloth and #sewannringstranddesign to share your makes with the community!

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    I’m making the skill blazer at the moment – the pattern is crisp and I’m loving the instructions as it is allowing me to follow my nose and to understand the construction. It’s really making me enjoy the process. This is one make that I will be sad to finish I’m enjoying it so much! Plotting the dude coat and scarf next and am sad you lovely folk don’t have woollens for me to buy!

    Samantha Stephens

    Hi Sarah, thanks for your question. Have you checked out our measurements chart on our SEW book product page yet? This details the finished garment measurements for each size in each of her 10 designs. Every design is a bit different and based on slightly different measurements so I would recommend checking this out if you haven’t already. If there is a specific style you are interested in please send us an email and we can provide you with more details from the book. However, you will notice she allows for quite a bit of ease and her style is relaxed so as to be more unisex so finished garment measurements are going to give you a better idea if it will work for you. Hope this helps! Cheers, Kathryn.


    Could you please give the measurements for the largest size? Many thanks. 😊


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