I started out simply having seen the Trinity Blood artbook, and I was set on cosplaying from it before even knowing a thing about the series! My design of choice was Esther, and I didn't change my mind after watching the anime. As well as seeing the anime, I was able to buy the manga and novel as they were released in the UK, so I've definitely ended up as a big fan of the series along the way.
First thing I made was a hoopskirt, using cheap polycotton. I chose that over a petticoat because it would take up less space when transporting the costume. Making my own skirt also let me have it that bizarre short length, and experiment with the hoop size to get what looked right! I got hoop steel from lulu_hecate, who also let me borrow her pattern. It turned out to be for a much larger skirt than I needed, but was helpful for drafting my own pattern. I ended up only needing the one hoop in the hem, although I actually made a channel for a second one.
I made the hoopskirt first so when I made the dress I could fit the skirt over it, have it flare open correctly. The dress fabric is a poly-blend twill of some sort I got on sale . I used a very altered jacket pattern, which was mostly for getting the sleeves correct, and really as a starting point. From that I fitted the waist a lot more, extended it into the skirt and so on. I drafted the puffy sleeves by extending the top of the sleeve pattern, and there's a stay underneath which stops them drooping. The dress zips up the back because I decided that would be a lot more convenient than having to do up all those snaps! My snaps aren't even functioning because I simply couldn’t find any the right size. I instead bought studs online and used those. Definitely quicker and cheaper than the other option of sewing on loads of buttons. I made a complete dress, which allowed me to fit it nicely, then sewed on the front panel as a separate piece. It’s sewn a little way from the edge so it has the effect of being snapped on. The sailor collar-type-thing pulls over my head, and is fixed in position with a few snaps. It, the dress collar, cuffs and front panel from the waist up are all interfaced.
The wimple is something like a half-circle of fabric, like many aspects it varies all the time in the references, but I wanted it to be full to get the billowy artwork effect like with her skirt. It's mounted on a hair band, and the top part is heavily interfaced. I used a hideous length of bias tape over the dress and wimple, something like 15m. The width of the trim again varies across the images, and I don't like how broader trim looks as much, so went with thin bias binding.
The underskirt is a circle skirt with 4m of polycotton in it. I wanted a cheap fabric, and something thin is ideal for floatiness. Making it a circle was great for the volume, and it also looks pretty when I'm kneeling XD. The downside was having to paint the stupidly long hem (145" circumference). I made a stencil for the design, which is a mixture of the references combined how I wanted. The stencil had to taper a bit to allow for the curved hem; the base of the design had to be wider than the top. That involved a bit of careful calculation. I found I couldn't always get neat edges when painting, so I mainly used Dylon fabric pen. I prefer that for getting precise edges and detail. It turned out to be ideal because I didn't have to wait for paint to dry before doing the next section (as it's a continuous design, the stencil had to overlap the previous section). For the scalloped hem, lining the skirt wasn't an option with the amount of fabric involved, and how it would weigh it down, so I experimented with paint, and found Tulip fabric paint prevented the fabric from fraying when I cut out the shapes.
I bought white gloves, and created the appliquéd crosses, which are hand-stitched to the gloves. I embroidered around the red crosses in gold because I liked the idea of it, I don't believe it's accurate though (Esther seems to be the only TB character who doesn't get the gold edging there)
The boots were an ebay find, they were originally partly pink, so I had to paint them white and replace the laces. The fabric sections were painted in acrylic, the plastic piping and soles were done in enamel.
The arrow thingies are Fimo clay - I'm very grateful to Odangochan for her technique for them! I sculpted one (flat without the bend in it) and used it to make a mould in plaster of paris. For the rest of them, I pressed Fimo into the mould to get the same basic shape. It wasn't perfect - each one still needed tidied up, and I had to bend them all too, but it definitely saved a lot of effort overall. Before baking them, I embedded a kirby grip for attaching them to the dress (I also had to clip each kirby grip shorter first)
The armour plates on the sleeves and so on are craft foam. I embedded a bunch of studs before painting, and after the silver paint, antiqued it with black acrylic. The pieces attach to the dress with snaps (something useful from all the decoration in the artwork - some of those studs can be functioning snaps and serve a purpose!). Some pieces also have sticky-back velcro - like the little cufflink things.
The arm shield piece is sculpted from Fimo then bolted to the foam underneath along with a layer of glue. I couldn't come up with a reliable way to combine foam and clay otherwise....
The crucifix is also clay. I wanted to cast it, but with time running out before the con, decided to stick with my Fimo original (especially since in order to make the mould for casting I would most likely end up breaking the clay original...). Before baking it I embedded several wires to support and strengthen it. The coat of arms is also clay, I based it off the genuine British arms, and not the simplified look in the artwork. I screwed in hooks to attach the pieces to the string of beads, and also glued everything securely.
The back plate is craft foam, for the raised section I built over a plastic dish which was about the right shape. I used steel cables because they were the only thing I could find in silver, and I like the effect. The ornaments glued to the ends are Fimo, and the cables attach to the backplate by being pushed through the foam and glued/duct taped in place. Similarly the cables on my arm are duct taped to the foam armour pieces, partly so I could easily remove them (not being able to bend my arm isn't fun). The rosary was bought on ebay, yay for one piece of handy merchandise. I painted it to match the rest of my jewellery and armour and put it on a different chain. The earrings are cross charms I bought put on to earring attachments.
The wig I bought at Japan Expo in Paris, it's from www.maple-wig.com/. I cut in the bangs, but chose not to cut it into Esther's short style since the wimple hides it anyway, and it's possible I could get more use out of the wig if I leave it long. I just wear it in a ponytail to keep the hair out of sight.
Best Made Costume - AmeCon 2007