Ann Ringstrand is a Swedish designer and the co-founder of the Swedish fashion brand Hope. She was their chief designer from 2001 to 2016. The brand is known for their trousers and jackets in particular, a very successful modern merge between workwear and classic tailoring. This month she published a book with ten patterns for the home sewing market called SY, meaning “sew”.
So far the book is only published in Swedish, but I believe it will be released in English and other languages soon. The concept is to bring fashion into the home sewing market, and for me, a long time Hope-enthusiast, this is one of the most exciting books about sewing I’ve seen in a long time. The projects have the same contemporary cool flair as I’ve learned to appreciate in Hope, and the fit is unisex and oversized. For me, oversized never felt quite right, but then a size down would be just it.
The ten projects include two trouser patterns, a blazer, a coat, a shirt with three variations, a kaftan dress, a wrap scarf/bolero and customized patched jeans. With the addition of a couple of t-shirts and a sweater this could be made into a perfect mini wardrobe.
Of the ten projects I’m particularly drawn to the “Skill blazer”, the ” Base trouser”, the “Work trouser” and the “Saint shirt”. They have lots of cool details and seem to be very fun and involved projects. The suggestions in the book are fantastic starting points for endless explorations and variations. The text discusses various materials and combinations (repurposing old shirts, or using furniture fabric, for example), and the illustrating photos are a fabulous.
The layout of the book is beautiful and works really well with the photos and overall style, see example below. The pattern sheets are easy to trace and clearly labelled. They are stored in a fold-over pocket inside the cover. The cover itself is the only part of the book I feel should have been a little more substantial, but I hope it will hold up during wear. The overall impression is that this is a quality product.
The instructions are very brief, and for an inexperienced sewist this could be a little challenging. I have a set of resources I always rely on – some online, some in other books, and if I need to refresh how to sew a fly and zipper I know where to find it. Of course, Google is always there to lend a helping hand if you are stuck, too. I think a great improvement to this book would be an online help resource with more elaborate instructions, more elaborate step-by-step illustrations of all the pockets, zipper and fly, how to set in sleeves, sew the blazer collar and so on. Another feature I miss is the opportunity to download the patterns digitally. Both Named: Breaking the pattern and Deer and Doe: Dressed have this feature and I love it. It’s great to be able to print only the size you want, and I would love to access the patterns in pdf-format with the seam allowance included as an option. Now they only come without the seam allowance, which I don’t mind at all, but I like to have the option for convenience. Tracing the patterns is the least interesting part of the process, and I loathe having to do it twice if I need another size.
So far I’ve only had time to sew one project which I’ve written about on the blog, the Base trouser. They are classic menswear inspired trousers with a modern update. I love how they turned out! One of the best parts of making them was how perfectly drafted the pattern is – everything fit together just right. I’ve copied several of the other patterns from the pattern sheets, so it’s only a matter of time before another project is in the making. I will definitely make the shirt, the blazer and the other trousers for a start.
If there is any doubt: I highly recommend this book. For an experienced sewist the patterns are easy enough to sew without understanding the language. You could always try using Google translate, too. There is an app for translating printed matter. After all, that is the common way to handle foreign languages for us non-English native speakers, and if we can do it, so can you 🙂
Transparency: I recently received a copy of the book from the author Ann Ringstrand. She kindly reached out and asked whether I would be interested in a copy and share some of my projects if I liked them, a proposal I happily accepted. However, I had already bought the book and the first project was finished before I received the copy, so I guess that proves that I like this book very much, strings attached or not.