So here's what I started with Thursday, and I set about cutting all the knots and taking out the embroidery - piece of cake.
This is where I am now - it's all totally beaded and trimmed. I love it now! It's cohesive and has a single purpose, even though I left the knots from the button and craft thread. (There's no way I'm re-beading all those just to get the knots on the wrong side!)
Drew pointed out that I have a natural break between the bodice and the skirt stenciling (oops - it does take practice to reposition the stencil, you know), and suggested I stop there if I don't think I'll finish the dress. He's pretty smart for a boy, because that was also one of Bianca's suggestions from the get-go!
I think I'll move on to the other 3 pieces and at least get those bodices beaded, then see how much time is left to decide how to fill in the skirt. I can always do partial beading, sew it together, wear it, then bead the rest of it later. The ball is March 1st, so this can work! It's a race between Bianca and me now, to see who can finish their dress first - ready, set, SEW! (No, no, just kidding, Bianca, you're way ahead of me...hey, look over there! Is that a new Alabama Chanin pattern?!)