SNEAK PEEK: Uniformly Dead by Greta McKennan and The Making of a Prom Dress

Uniformly DeadCurrent Sewing Project: the Prom Dress, by Greta McKennan

Prom is a week and a half away, and the dress is slightly more than half way cut out. What is it about sewing that brings out the procrastinator in me?

Like Daria Dembrowski, my protagonist in the Stitch In Time Mystery series, I enjoy sewing. Although I’m not a seamstress by profession like she is, I once worked in a bridal shop sewing wedding gowns, and in college I had a work-study job making costumes for the college theater. Sewing ball gowns and silk opera capes for Die Fledermaus was like making life-sized doll clothes.

I don’t have a treadle machine like Daria’s—my black Singer sewing machine with the gold tooling on the head has a knee pedal to run the motor. But like her machine, mine only sews forwards, with no backstitching or zigzag options. I have a box of attachments that screw onto the machine if I want to do buttonholes or ruffling. For the prom dress, I should only need the zipper foot.

The dress is purple gauze covering a turquoise blue satin lining. The gauze is surprisingly hard to cut out, as the fabric is so sheer and lightweight that it shifts around during the cutting process. The long skirt is made up of four flared panels, each of which must be cut out individually. That’s four for the skirt and four for the lining, mind you. Between the two of us we’ve managed to cut out five of the eight pieces so far.

My daughter is eighteen now, taking the lead in the prom dress creation. Throughout the years I’ve made numerous things for her, including a few lovely Easter dresses, the annual Christmas jammies, a green crushed-velvet cape that reached to her ankles, and an Alaska Native style kuspuk to wear to Scotland for her choir’s performance of “King Island Christmas.” When she got a Felicity American Girl doll, I made her a Colonial dress and a matching one for her doll. I even made her a rag doll; tea-dyed to look antique, with torn muslin hair and a sweet embroidered face.

Then there were the projects that my daughter made herself: the khaki skirt she made in Girl Scouts, and the fleece mittens to donate to the mitten tree at Christmas. She made a flowered dress in middle school that she can still wear, and she embellished the junior prom dress that she purchased a week before last year’s dance.

She is off to college in the fall, the second of my three children to head out into the wide world. In a way, her senior prom dress symbolizes the end of her childhood, as well as her mom’s last chance to work on a pretty dress for her. No matter what it takes, that lovely purple and turquoise dress will be finished by next Saturday!


Historical seamstress Daria Dembrowski has her work cut out for her as she searches for a killer’s pattern . . .

Daria has come up with a brilliant new plan to expand her seamstress business beyond stitching wedding gowns—historical sewing. And with Civil War re-enactors setting up camp in her hometown of Laurel Springs, Pennsylvania, she has plenty of opportunities, including one client portraying a Confederate colonel who is a particular stickler for authenticity.

But soon the small-town peace starts coming apart at the seams as an antique doll is stolen from a Civil War exhibit and the cranky colonel is found impaled by his own bayonet. When Daria’s brother is suspected of the theft and a bridal client’s fiancé is accused of the murder, Daria is determined to untangle the clues to prove their innocence. She needs to get this case sewn up fast, before the murderer re-enacts the crime and makes her history.

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About the Author:
McKennan, Greta
Greta McKennan is a wife, mother, and first-time author, living her dream in the boreal rainforest of Juneau, Alaska. She enjoys a long walk in the woods on that rare sunny day, reading cozy mysteries when it rains, and sewing the Christmas jammies on her antique Singer sewing machine. She is hard at work on the next novel in her Stitch in Time Mystery series featuring seamstress Daria Dembrowski.

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