The right side is the first try (pleats lower), the left side is second attempt (pleats higher, then close ups of the first try - I think I actually like the first attempt better, it's less poufy.
The second attempt. I didn't end up messing with pleats in the top seam. I thought I'd work on one issue at a time.
Then I brought out the stretch velvet I'd earmarked for the train. I tried it the way I'd originally planned to us it (no pics but basically around the waist with the pleating in the center back and hanging straight back like this
). Not very cute in the stretch velvet.
Then I draped the train over the sides of the pannier, changing the pleating a little so it looked nice (like this
). I like it! I think it shows off the fabric much better. Also it saves me the hassle/expense of a lining for the train, plus it covers up much of the sides and the issues I'm having there.
So I'm going to skip another toile, and make the skirt like the first attempt. I don't feel like messing about the other ideas I have (like changing the way I cut the dip in the front or adding pleats to the sides of the pannier top seam). Poufing slightly or not, I am content. I'll save my anal perfectionism for the court dress with English pannier. :>