1) First: a disclaimer. I want to smile in my photos. Really I do. I'm not as serious as I appear. It looks like I need to spend more time reading this site, and less of this. But it was cold outside; it's 36 degrees (Fahrenheit), so I find it difficult to put a happy face on when I'm feeling chilly. I'd be much more likely to smile, act silly, maybe even dance if there I had a photographer prompting me. It's difficult to be cheery for a self-timer. That said, this lined dress made it much easier to pose outside. That second (unseen) layer of a gun-metal stretch charmeuse felt like my delightful and warm secret. How did I get through my life without lined dresses? Judging from my mother's closet, she wore (and made) lined dresses frequently in the 1960s and early 1970s. Not only does that second layer of fabric make the dress feel more finished, it actually has multiple functions: it insulates, it protects the main fabric, and it negates the need for a slip! For the slipless generation, I think a lining is mandatory, don't you think?
2. A close-up shot of the dress, Easy McCall's M5512, which is part of hillaryduff.com. This pattern was easier than cooking up a pot of peas (isn't that where the expression "easy-peasy" originates?) although I still managed to make some designer touches. First, after I stitched in my lining for the bodice, I understitched at the armholes. Only after I aced that part, did I realize that this detail was for view A, not B (my dress). Oops! I left it alone, and stitched in the lined sleeves. Wonderfully my understitching detour didn't hurt the outcome. Hurrah! What else can I tell you? I rediscovered the blindstitch hem button on my sewing machine. I've used it once before - two years ago on a sweater coat. But I was afraid of this stitch. Was I doing it right? I got a quickie refresher course with Mac Berg at Vogue Fabrics, and the fluorescent lightbulb went off. I went home and tried it for myself. Wow! I'm going to use this hem trick a lot more now. The key thing to remember is to ensure that the raw edge is on the right side of the needle and the fold on the left. And use the proper feet (the D foot on the Viking Husqvarna sewing machine shank, my bunioned right foot on the pedal).
Here's a shot of the designer touch I mentioned above. As you can see, one side is gathered more than the other. I decided to just let it go, because it's A) In the back. B) The fabric is so busy, the gathering is not as noticeable. C) Anyone who's staring at that spot is a weirdo and better get away from me on the double or I'm going to call the cops!
That said, I do like the back slit, but you might want to make it a little less deep so your bra strap doesn't show or wear a bra that nearly blends into your fabric.
For the shoe fans: these are Natural Comfort wedgies, which I bought off of eBay recently. I have a pair of rust-colored ones, which I frequently wear with this dress. These suede shoes have padding, making them extraordinarily comfortable. I highly recommend them.