I made an error in this preliminary dress in that I sewed the elastic at the empire waist before I did the elastic at the very top of the bust. This was a mistake because I ended up with a bust of ill proportion, in other words, the fabric from the empire waist to the top of the dress ended up being uneven. If I had sewn the top elastic first, I could've measured down from there, and then any inconsistencies or errors in measuring could've been made up for in the hem down below. I'll do it the right way for the real black silk dress, and hopefully won't end up with uneven boob-age.
Oh, and in case there are any sewers out there who are wondering about how I sewed the elastic exactly, I made a casing for the top, but the elastic at the empire waist was sewn directly to the fabric. I used 1/2" elastic, I simply threaded the elastic through the casing with a safety pin on the end and then tacked it in place on the seams. I'll try to take more detailed pics of the black dress when I make it to explain!
The book above, The Dressmaker's Technique Bible, ended up being a great find that helped me in the process of making this dress without a pattern. It gives detailed info on constructing different parts of clothing, from sleeve cuffs to elastic bands. It's a little more advanced than your traditional DIY Sewing books, which I liked. It's very to the point and shows detailed drawings to help you "reason out" the process on your own.
More to come as I work on the real black silk dress! No progress shall be made until after my return from Europe!