So I went ahead and did it the way the pattern instructions said, and even finished it off on the outside with a top stitch. It looked terrible. I unpicked it all and went back to the way that made sense attaching the right sides together, turning it over and finishing it off on the inside of the garment - voila. I had done the version with a bow for the front, but because of the busy fabric the bow was a little over the top.
It would be interesting to try this dress with a softer fabric and the variation on the sleeve. Though I don't really like the version with the skinny neck piece as much.