Everyone here has given some great advice, but there's one more thing that might help you: take classes! Michael's has a weekly schedule of classes that they teach for a very small fee (my parents actually took a few greeting card ones and /loved/ it...all I get now are homemade cards). Also, I'm sure your university or local YMCA offers adult education and youth classes for people who want to do floral arrangements, or sew, or weave, or whatever. Classes are a great way to learn real techniques that you can hone (like reading patterns!...it really is a skill that you have to learn), and you can learn why you're making any mistakes, and how to correct them. And it'll give you the courage to go out on your own and try new things with those skills. Also, if you have any yarn or bead stores (specialty stores...not Michael's or Hobby Lobby), they often host classes or group crafting sessions, and tend to have very knowledgeable staff. Just ask! Don't be afraid or embarrassed. Everyone starts somewhere.
Hello! I've used that first tutorial a couple of times, but without the bottom ruffle. Each time I use roughly 2 yds of fabric, turning my main pieces so that I don't waste big triangles of fabric in between. I do an 8' hem line. Laid out, you have one trapezoid, then an upside down trapezoid (sharing an edge), then a right side up trapezoid, then another upside down trapezoid (all sharing edges). 'Course, I also only use solid fabric. Prints or textures may make a difference. But 2 yds. 6 in. gives me enough to do that, plus whatever's left at the bottom to make tops and bags and such. (I make mine roughly 36 in. long, that bottom bit could be used to do the ruffle). Of course, I could also be treating the fabric completely wrong, too, as I cut from selvage to selvage (top to bottom), instead of the other way around, as most patterns indicate doing. But the two (soon to be 3) times I've done it, I've ended up with very nifty (and flattering, if I may say) dresses with minimal expense, and almost no waste. Oh, and for reference, I'm bigger than you. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 42-32-*cough, cough*...you get the picture.
Ooh, one more observation: in separates or dresses, don't have any horizontal lines crossing the widest part of your body (seams, shirt hems, etc.) Seams aren't so bad if both fabrics are the same color, but you either want vertical lines (princess seams, usually) or none at all there, because it draws the attention, and will visually make that part of your body look wider than it is. If you have nice legs, show them off with tunic length blouses that will draw the attention down.
Exactly how book-like does it need to be? When I was in HS, we did a poetry project where we wrote a poem, and then had to "display it in a way that metaphorically conveyed its meaning"...or some such thing. I remember at least one girl cut hers out and pasted it to the inside of a red stilletto, another guy glued his to a basketball, and one adventurous guy made a solar system (out of hangars and styrofoam) and the poem was split up by verse for each planet.
If she could do something 3-D like that, it'd be very different, and a lot of fun, especially with a crafty Mom to help! She could make each page a petal of a flower (small pages or big flowers, or do each verse on a small sheet, and have a bouquet of poems), or the solar system sort of thing, with a mobile. Or she could go medieval and nail the sheets to a piece of aged/wood burned/painted wood (more like a book). Just some ideas. Get her to check the creative boundaries.
Oh, and as for the individual pages, if it does need to be more traditionally bound, she could consider using transparent or semi transparent paper so that she could layer poems with pictures and other poems (strategically placed, of course) to make it a really visual 2-D experience. I love stuff like this!
Not another question, just an observation I felt compelled to make: you never realize how long 45' is until you're hemming it. I gave up pinning it, as I wanted a tiny hem, and just folded it as I went. I messed up somewhere...okay, I know where, it was that blasted circle for a top tier...I didn't account for it properly, so I ended up adding another tier to the bottom, for a grand total of a 15 yard hem. But it is hemmed! And it is 3/4 attached to the next tier up. I'm working bottom up so I don't try to kill myself later. So far it's going well. I couldn't imagine going top down with all this fabric. Measuring it while it was all laid out straight (doubled over, it still took up my entire living room floor) was bad enough!
You get the idea. A few hints: don't deviate too much from the guidelines, or they may not let you participate. Traditions stay traditional by being fairly conformist. I would find out if the dress has to be solid white (as in no contrast strips, buttons, etc.), sometimes they'll allow small touches of other colors. I would definitely use texture more than style to make a statement. While you want to be unique, you don't want to be a sore thumb, and looking too old, or too underdressed will not make you a happy camper the day, nor will your mother be. I would stick with jewelry and hair accessories and shoes to make you shine in your own special way. If you're wearing a dress with a crinoline, perhaps attach some bows or buttons (in a style that suits you) to it so that they aren't visible all the time, but perhaps peek out now and again when you walk. Finally, ask about requirements regarding shoes, and also, see if you can wear a small wrap or jacket before and after the ceremony. If you wear a simple dress, you can go wild with your wrap. And above all, have fun! If you go into the experience with dread, you'll have a miserable time, and unhappy memories. But if you go into it with a positive attitude, expecting to have fun, or at the very least meet new people, and experience something different, you'll have a good time, even if it's ironic.
Haha...my crafting supplies are currently mixed up in my kitchen pantry until I can get one of those little wheeled plastic drawer thingies to go under my table. I tried to keep it organized, the bottom shelf and floor for the crafting, the rest for food and tupperware and such, but it just all keeps getting jumbled. When I go for soup, I find thread, and when I'm looking for bobbins, I find crackers. My friends find it hilarious. I wish my husband would share their opinion!
It's really nice! You ought to wear it out. Clothes that make you feel naked, but still cover you are the best, in my opinion. It's like you're walking around with a secret, or just so unbelievably comfortable. But, as another poster said, it'd look very cute with a cardigan, or even a bolero.