Great work girly!!!
As someone with actual training in design and pattern making, kudos to you for figuring out a method that works for you already!! that just means you've some serious talent. I had to learn how to from a text book! Keep up the good work!! I love that LBD... such a flattering cut.
and yeah, zippers are evil. and so are sleeves... but that doesn't mean you shouldn't use em! keep trying, It's probably more an issue of weight of zipper used to the weight of the fabric