I don't know about you, but I definitely think that this:
is a significant improvement on this:
It may not be enough to render this thing wearable (I haven't yet had the nerve to try it on), but it's a step in the right direction.
I have to thank all of you who have spent the time and effort to give me your feedback. I took the advice - posed by many of you - to steam out the pleats to the best of my ability. I may still go a step further and take Debbie's advice about using a ham to reshape the pleats like darts...
This exercise would have been extremely difficult without the dress form, fyi. Yet another useful feature makes itself known!
I should also mention that this fabric looks much worse in photos than up close. The pulling you see in the shot is in no way observable to the naked eye. I know, I'm scrutinizing it all to hell. I do wonder why this is. Have any of you noticed a similar phenomenon with any of the fabrics you've photographed?