Ok so the internet is not going to answer all my questions. though it has significantly helped.
things i have found that are useful online.
1)a measurement chart which sadly i can no longer find a workable link to. it had a very 70s looking model with arrows and numbers. it allowed you to measure each area that might ever possibly need and put it into an easy to reference chart.
the pattern marking section was extremely useful. i also kept referring to here when i found words in the instructions i didn't get. like stay-stitch.
however, for all that i quickly found myself stuck on major points of the instructions. so i head off to Chapters to find a book that had everything about sewing.
Success came in the form of Sew Everything Workshop by Diana Rupp
this book was the best of the best (and it came with tonnes of free patterns for boxers, baby doll nighties, tunics, etc). it started off with an intro to your machine, talked about materials and tools. explained how to prep your material and then step by step of how to read a pattern. and then it went into techniques like how to make a gather.
now i was set. so with instructions in front of me, the laptop on my left and my new "bible" on my right i set out reading my pattern.
things were becoming clear, the foreign language was making sense. i knew how to make this dress.