I'm just about done with the dress, but as I suspected, it's too short. At least for office wear. I only have scraps of the fabric left which means I'll either have to keep the bottom raw-edged or piece some sort of hem facing. The style is too busy to add a solid hem band. So that, and a couple other things that bug me, are why it's going to be percolating for a bit. But that's what happens when you use the good stuff for a first-go. Sometimes the gamble doesn't pay off. Still, it will make a good weekend dress when it's finished.
I was so short on fabric that I had to piece the "facing" of the underlayer of the bodice (it's a facing, but turned outward so the fashion fabric shows). This is OK in a print since it doesn't look unplanned if you spot the seam. I also raised the scoop of the underlayer two inches. Good thing, or else it would serve no modesty purpose at all.
The underlayer unit itself wants to flop at the neckline so I'll need to add a dart on each side under the cowl to contain it. Again, it's OK because it won't show. But it really shouldn't be happening.
As I also suspected, cutting the pattern pieces with the stretch instead of on the bias is fine. In fact, it's better than fine. It eliminates the need for a side zipper as there's plenty of stretch to pull this on over my head, over the girls, and over the hips. This is a much better solution anyway since there are far too many layers and gathers where an invisible zip is supposed to be inserted and I can only imagine the swearing that would've ensued if I had to put one there and then try to actually zip it.
Overall, I like the style and fit of the dress but the layout and instructions are pretty much horrible. The pattern pieces fit together well enough but it's obvious now that this was not truly drafted for knits with that bias layout and bulky sideseam zipper. The construction for the lined bodice is stupid and you end up with seam allowances showing inside at the shoulders and a need to tack in some areas at the neckline, which should not be happening with a regular lining construction method. I wasn't really up for completely re-thinking construction without having made it at least once but now that I have, I know I'd do the lining as one usually would (by sewing both outer and inner separately and then joining them together) instead of the hodgepodge going on here. It's hard to really explain without showing in person just how stupid it is per the pattern, so just trust me on that. At least the stupid is on the wrong side and won't show to the world.
To make things even more interesting, the instructions and illustrations do not match each other and I gave up trying to figure it out after the first few steps for the bodice/lining because, really, there's just no figuring out something that is plain wrong. So, after deciding the zipper was not a part of this equation, I sewed both bodice/lining sideseams closed instead of leaving one side open for the zipper. I then sewed the waist unit pieces (which were first gathered onto lining pieces) into a circle and attached "in the round" to the bodice, and then did the same for the skirt section. Much easier and NO HAND SEWING NECESSARY. I repeat, NO HAND SEWING NECESSARY. I haven't overlocked those joining seams yet because I'm contemplating de-taching the skirt, removing the gathers in it and using the extra fabric for a hem facing. I don't really need gathers on my hips anyway. We'll see if I stay motivated to do that.
I may try it again, now that I know what to change since I like the finished dress and would probably LOVE it if it were longer but I can't recommend this pattern if you're sqeamish about construction by the seat of your pants. ;-)