I'm pretty psyched to have been proven wrong.
Both my sisters have worn variations on this style every summer for years. It looks like the perfect "forgiving" shape, right? And yet, the literally dozens I've tried on in stores have always looked awful on me. The bodice was always too short and the elastic hit just underneath the bust, maternity style (best case scenario) or (horror) right across the bust line, while the gathers of the skirt made my hips look ginormous. If the elastic hit at the right spot, the bodice itself would be way too wide. I self-diagnosed myself as someone with a long torso, gave up looking and just wrote off the silhouette.
Recently, though, I saw a few lovely Closet Case Files Sallie dresses (particularly the ones by SweetKM and Helen's Closet) and was newly inspired. The Sallie dress pattern is, of course, a bit more sophisticated than mine, but my desire to plunk down $14 for the pattern was tempered by my hard-learned knowledge that my sewing machine really stinks at sewing knits. I knew the lined bodice would be a disaster. I also knew I'd need to fit the bodice first. I wanted faster results.
I serged the ends of the seam allowances without cutting any off, and then I pressed the seam allowance down and stitch the edge to the inside of the skirt with a stretch stitch, forming a casing. I threaded it with 1/2" elastic and tried on the dress to determine where to cut the elastic.
I think it turned out pretty well. I'd like the neckline to be a bit lower - I think I cut my neckband a bit too short and that pulled it up more than I wanted. I do have to adjust the fabric around the elastic casing when i put it on to keep the dress from twisting around - I might sew the elastic down at quarter marks to prevent this in the future. There's also some excess fabric in the center back of the bodice - maybe this has something to do with that swayback thing people are always talking about? This is a new fitting issue for me.
I've worn it a few times, including out on a beach date with my husband, and in hindsight, I don't know why I thought sewing this dress would be such a risk. I realized after I started sewing that I didn't actually have a long torso. The extra length I needed is due to my bust size. I already know that my shoulder width is proportionally much smaller than it "should" be compared to my full bust - this is why I always do FBAs. The reason the RTW dresses don't fit is that if I choose a size that fits in the shoulders, there's never enough fabric to cover my bust, whether via dart in a woven fabric or extra length.
Altogether, I'm pretty thrilled with the dress. It's a nice throw-on-and-feel-put-together garment, but more importantly, it represents a real coup of sewing vs RTW. Also nice: It was a pretty cheap sew - the fabric was on sale for $3.60 a yard and I only used 45 inches of my 3-yard cut.
Take that, boob-bisecting, hip-enlarging RTW blouson dresses! I have conquered you.