First things first, my reflections on the good. I scaled back to a 46 inch bust size (rather than 50), which is more in line with my upper bust measurement. This size is the best shoulder/back/neck fit. Then I conducted a pretty massive full bust adjustment, adding a good three inches or so in full bustiness room, as picture above.
Next, I moved the dart. It originally angled semi-upward along the side of the chest. The pattern illustration would have you believe the dart angles from in the waist area upward toward the bust apex, but it does not. On the pattern, the dart placement is definitely coming from the side seem slightly upward. Well, my problem of excess fabric over the armpit required dart migration into an area where it could corral the fabric. So I moved it up into the sideseem under teh armpit, where it now helps pull the extra fabric down and into the dart. Basically I used a slash and spread method to close the old dart and shift the dart into the armpit area, angling down a bit to my apex. The shift has helped the fit quite a bit.
However, it is still not perfect, so allow me to reflect on the bad. The biggest issue is still an excess of fabric over the bust in the armpit area. You can see it in the above photo puckering in the area of my upper bust (and sorry for the awkward self portraits. I try not to post bad picture like this, but I did not have my tripod at sewing class). I recognize that the dress design is not intended to be a very fitted bodice, and this excess fabric may reflect this, but nonetheless I am not willing settle for the gaping at my chest.
It is theorized by my sewing instructor that the excess fabric is due to my shoulder slope. I have a more sharply angled downward slope on my shoulders than the pattern's slope, which as you can see in the above photos is an almost straight line parallel to the floor. However, when we changed the slope on the shoulder, it constricted the arm/shoulder fit too tightly. The pattern fits with enough room in the underarm, but with too much room in the upper shoulder/arm. Yet removing upper arm fabric creates tightness. What is a girl to do?
To try and figure this fitting situation out, I have been research the fit and function of the Dolman sleeve. Be prepared as you read on. You are about to discover more about Dolman sleeves than you ever wanted to know.
I have done some reading on the design, and the basic description of this sleeve design is that the Dolman sleeve incorporates the bodice and the sleeve into once piece, making it the easiest sleeve style of all to construct. Dolman sleeves should create a smooth line over the upper chest (unless you are me on a first draft). The consensus is that this is an excellent style for someone with any kind of shoulder problem. Often, the underarm area is almost bat-like or cape like. Also, the sleeve often angles downward from the shoulder. This means there is some sleeve shaping but still no armhole or sleeve cap.
The dolman style has a sleeve formed integrally with the body, with only two substantial seams at the underarms. A generous amount of space is provided under the arms for movement, so the garment is usually considered to be very loose-fitting, even if the sleeve forearms are tight. It is perhaps the simplest style to assemble, with only two underarm seams to sew.
The conclusion is that, in general, when you're concerned with a good fit that complements the wearer (as opposed to a "safe" fit that will accommodate a small range of body sizes), set-in sleeve styling rather than Dolman sleeves is almost uniformly an ideal solution to the problem of adding sleeves to a garment. The Dolman sleeve might not be suited for a close fitting bodice.
As you can see in the below photo, I am making progress at a close fitting bodice with a Dolman sleeve. But if you look you can see the excess fabric gathering over my bust toward the shoulder. Perhaps I need to tweak and tuck a bit more. Perhaps I need a much more fluid and draping fabric to soften the excess. Whatever it is, I am not giving up hope yet that the pattern will work for me.
I am encourage by this bit of advice from Fast Fit by Sandra Betzina "Dolman sleeves give a nice smooth line and are forgiving on anyone with shoulder problems. Try to avoid an especially low curve in the underarm area. The Dolman sleeve and underarm seam can always be raised to suit your tastes....If a Dolman sleeves seems too deep for you, don't skip it all together - simply raise the underarm curve as you cut out. The goal is to keep the bust and sleeve circumference the same, but lift the curve up into the sleeve. Start by continuing the side seam up one inch to two inches into the sleeve, then curve back out into the sleeve. Curved seems at the underarm must be clipped or served close to lie flat. If you need to get rid of more fabric, you can do it in the sewing; but a conservative approach is better to start with."
If you have any advice for me, send it my way. I am accepting suggestions from every angle.