I think that I've finally worked up the gumption to tear it apart, and rebuild. This will be an ongoing record of my progress, or not...
I finally got the corset - that this beast will now fit over - finished, and tried the dress, and all of the underskirts on, all together. Good News: the majority of the dress fits. Bad News: the majority of the dress fits - guess I gained some of that weight back, oops... beyond that; the places it didn't fit. There was a full inch gap between the top of the underskirt's cartridge pleats, and the bottom of the dresses pleats. I took this as a sign, and worked myself up to taking it apart. So far I've only taken off the skirt, and unfurled the bottom edge of the bodice, but I think that there is one more pair of seams in my sights: the side back. I think that with my current corset - lacing the way it does - I also need to make the side back of the dress adjustable; the center front certainly isn't.
I somewhat hesitate, mostly because this means more eyelets, and that I now need to create some magic for attaching the skirt. I need to figure out a good, and not obvious way to make the cardrige pleats semi-adjustable, without having a huge gap somewhere. Stay tuned....
Having hit a milestone, I thought I would do some catch up, here.
I did some sneaky sewing to extend all layers of the bodice, seperately, and then re-finished it, 2-4 inches longer than it was; and decided to add side back lacing and a placket, while I was at it. This involved much cursing, and coffee guzzling, but really wasn't all that exciting. The eyelets, and reattaching of hooks and eyes, were both completed on a long car-trip, while listening to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
The skirt went back on with much less fiddling,(but more wrestling,) than I had anticipated.
While on said car-trip, I also started beading the forepart, which I have yet to finish; but I want to get the sleeves all worked out first, so I can do all of the rest of the beading all at once. This beading includes several metal medallions, pearls, glass, and a few semi-precious stones.
Once the gown was hemmed, and structurally complete, I took a detour, and made myself a new shirt/shift/chemise/high-necked smock. There was a split second where I considered actually doing proper blackwork, then I remembered my timeframe, and started testing all of the decorative stitches on my, and my mother's machines. After choosing 3, I perfected my waiting-on-embroidery Zen. I didn't so much use a pattern as measure stuff, mull it over, and cut where it looked right... I did write down desired finished measurements: Does that count as a pattern?
So, all of that leaves me needing to trim the dress, finish sleeves and beading, and work on accessories. Even though that only looks like 3 things, I know that I have a ways to go, yet.