Strand Dress/Top / Beginner-Friendly Tips
This pattern is rated as intermediate since it takes a bit of time to construct due to the beautiful strap design and lovely techniques used like French seams. Since I wanted to sew it up a little more quickly and make the process more beginner-friendly, I made a few tweaks to the sewing process, which I'm sharing below. Keep in mind, this is only my process and what worked to bring me the most enjoyment throughout the making process, and with the finished garment, so these are only suggestions. Always stick with what your gut is telling you when it comes to the things you make. After all, the things we make for ourselves should always bring a certain level of joy in their individuality.
There are two specific things I did to make the process of sewing this more beginner-friendly. The first was to eliminate all French seams, which accomplished the second main change, which was to remove the waist tie and casing. I'm sharing the details below.
Eliminating French Seams
French seams are a beautiful feature in this pattern and work exceptionally well if you don't use a serger to finish seams or if you like the inside of your garment to be just as beautiful as the outside. I enjoy using a serger to finish seams because it makes the process go a little more quickly. If you don't have a serger and would still like to eliminate the French seams, you could always use a wide zigzag stitch instead. I eliminated all French seams on this project and am happy with the finished result. Note, if you decide not to do French seams, make sure to use a 5/8" seam allowance instead of 3/8".
Installing Pockets without French Seams
If you decide not to do French seams for the side seams and pockets, you will sew the pockets in the standard method. If you don't have experience sewing pockets and want to eliminate French seams on this dress, I'll walk you through the process below.
1) First, you'll need to trim away 1/2" from the side seam edge of the pocket (the straight edge). This is because you need the side seam allowance to match the seam allowance in the Center Tier pieces.
2) Next, align the straight edge of the pocket with the side edge of one Center Tier piece, making sure that the top of the pocket is correctly positioned according to the pattern markings. Sew with a 5/8" seam allowance. Repeat for the remaining three pocket pieces.
3) Serge the seam allowance only the length of the straight pocket edge for all four pocket pieces.
4) With right sides up, press pocket pieces open and away from the Center Tier pieces, with the seam allowance pushed toward the pocket and away from the Center Tier piece.
5) OPTIONAL - Topstitch on the right side of the pocket along the seam that was just sewn to attach the pocket piece to skirt pice. This helps to keep the pockets from pulling outward, especially after washing.
6) With right sides together, pin both Center Tier pieces together along the side seam and around pockets. Sew with a 5/8" seam allowance.
7) Finish the side seam with a serger or zigzag stitch.
If you'd like a more comprehensive visual, you can reference the pocket installation in the Emerald Dress pattern on pages 81-82 of Making No. 7 / Desert, or my post on adding the Emerald Dress pockets to the Starry Sky Skirt.
Eliminating the Waistband
Between the dress bodice and the skirt, there is a waist tie casing created with a French seam. This allows the wearer to cinch the waist and gives the dress a little more definition. Being petite, I'm pretty short-waisted, so sometimes definition at the waist isn't the most comfortable for me, so I prefer more of an open tent shape in dresses. If like me, you don't plan to cinch the waist and are looking to make this dress more simple, you can choose to eliminate the waist tie casing by simply attaching the skirt to the bodice in the same manner as you would the Lower Tier of the skirt to the Center Tier. If you would still like to have the waist tie on your dress, make sure to follow the instructions for doing so in the pattern.
That's it! I hope these tips are helpful. Next week, I'm sharing my tank version of this pattern and an interview with the pattern maker, Meghann Halfmoon! - Emily