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Friday, July 1, 2011

Maras's Award Winning Dress

Nothing says summer and Fourth of July better than the colors red, white and blue.

The museum has in its collection a pair of dresses made in Lake County that epitomize fashion in the late 1960s, and the patriotic spirit of this time of year.

The dresses were created by Antioch resident, and talented seamstress, Angela Maras. Patriotic postcard, 1909. (left)

Inspired by her six-year old neighbor, Jeannie Lindgren (Waschow), Maras created a red, white and blue ensemble for the girl. The outfit (shown above) won Best in Show at the National Grange Cotton Sewing Contest for 1969.

Detail of the patriotic outfit Maras made for Jeannie Lindgren, and the national award ribbon. (LCDM 2000.13.1-.2)

The prize-winning ensemble was made of 100% double-knit cotton. The reversible coat is solid navy blue with brass double breasted buttons on one side reversing to red, white, and blue striped on the other side, over an a-line dress.

The road to Best in Show took several months. Angela Maras first entered her garments at the district and county levels, then onto the state where she won first place against 534 other entries.

Jeannie Lindgren modeling the dress at the State Fair, Springfield, Illinois, 1969 (above). LCDM 2000.13.10

Lindgren recalled that Maras, who had three boys, treated her as a daughter, and created the unique dress especially for her. "[The dress] was very patriotic, I wore a hat and it had that super cool jacket... I remember one contest... seeing a lot of people in the audience... [but] I never remember being afraid. That was due to all of the preparation and knowing Angela was waiting in the wings for me."

The first place winners from each state sent their garments to New York for final judging, where Maras's was selected to compete in Florida at the National Grange. Over 50,000 women from 37 states participated in the national contest.

Angela Maras and Jeannie Lindgren at the National Grange Cotton Sewing Contest in Daytona Beach, Florida, 1969. (LCDM 2000.13.20) Maras is wearing a complementary dress to the prize-winning child's ensemble.

The shift dress Maras made for herself to complement Jeannie's patriotic dress. (LCDM 2007.8)

Maras was trained in sewing by the Marie Boecler French School of Design in Chicago. On winning the national award, Maras said that it was "a feeling of accomplishment to have the talent and have it recognized by professionals in the field of sewing."

In creating these dresses, Maras brought a national award home to Lake County, and expressed two very iconic styles of the 1960s—the ladies' shift dress and child's a-line dress. The dresses are significant additions to the museum's textile collection.

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