Project (Pageant) Runway

Love them or hate them, pageants are a part of life for many American girls. I'm a former "pageant girl" with a boatload of state/national titles from my younger days. So it was a natural progression that my children would be in pageants.

And when you "do" pageants, there are a bunch to choose from. Natural or glitz, scholarship programs or beauty pageants, and so on. Click the link to listen to Kathy Morningside take FBI Agent Gracie Hart to task over mistaking the Miss United States Scholarship Program for a beauty pageant.

Which pageant system you choose depends largely on your personal taste/comfort levels. When my girls were babies we did a few pageants, but I drew the line at plastering them with makeup and wigs. A hair scrunchie was one thing. A wiglet or fall was a totally different animal. When my girls were older (7 & 9 respectively) we did a couple of small local pageants. My oldest decided they weren't for her, but the younger wanted to continue. So we did some more small local pageants, mostly of the free entry variety. When we received a letter in the mail from the National American Miss program for an open call, we decided to check it out. My daughter made it throught the audition program and was chosen to be a State finalist. 
Interview Suit - Made by ME!
She also won free entry into the Royal Dynasty International pageant and so our summer was really busy prepping for these two events. These two events cemented my daughter's wish to continue with pageantry. Both programs above are natural pageants. NAM is far more strict with makeup/hair than Royal Dynasty, but both look for girls with clean, fresh faces who look their age.

1st Runner Up at Royal Dynasty International 2012
We are currently prepping for two major pageants this spring: Little Miss Citrus Nationals and Dream Girls USA State Pageant. If you know anything about pageants, you know that you need a WARDROBE. Many pageants have a "theme wear" division that is either required or optional. Little Miss Citrus has a required component called "Citrus Wear". For younger contestants, it is an anything goes category.

I'm in the process right now of finishing up her Citrus Wear. Typically I don't post pictures of pageant projects until the day before the pageant to avoid anyone copying our ideas. We're close enough to the pageant date that I'm comfortable sharing this design with you. It is based on the national dress of Indonesia, the kebaya, as a tribute to her mixed-ethnicity.
Inspiration Picture - Source
Since we are limited to a "citrus" colored pallette of tangerine/orange, yellow and lime green for "Citrus Wear", I chose a lime green and gold sari silk for the sarong/skirt and an orange crepe-back satin for the corset top. I had in my possession this amazing bordered embellished organza that I wanted to use and the colors worked out perfectly. I was even able to hand dye some more organza to match the embellished yardage in case of "emergency". In any case, I drafted this completely by hand with no assistance from a preprinted pattern block. I saw the image above and interpreted it as you see below. The yellow jack is not finished because I've been having "issues" drafting the pattern. It's a definite "Make It Work" moment since we're 2 weeks away from pageant time.

Fashion Fabric - In Progress

Muslin Attempt
The lovely peach confection above has been outgrown and so we needed new Formal Wear. For Formal Wear, the mainstay of every pageant wardrobe, I had designed a gorgeous green and gold ballgown but life got in the way.
Initial Design
Fortunately for me, my oldest daughter's previous bespoke ballgown was in pristine condition and needed only to be cut down for her sister. I'm still working on the finishing touches and waiting for more rhinestones to arrive from Hong Kong, but here's a fairly good example of both girls in the same dress:
Oldest Daughter - Dec 2011 - Age 9.5

Younger Daughter - Dec 2012 - Age 8.9
Please note that both girls are fairly close in age in the two pictures. I won't ask you to answer the question "Who Wore It Better?"

This week I am going to finish sewing all the things so I can relax and get our bags packed.

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