I LOVE X! I've loved X ever since I was a kid, it was one of the first CLAMP manga I ever read. The art is absolutely gorgeous, and so many of the characters have such beautiful designs and outfits (as CLAMP does...). Arashi was one of my favorite characters in the series, and I REALLY wanted a challenge and fancy costume since I hadn't done one in a while. I flipped through my artbooks and immediately fell in love with this design.
I started with the kimono. Since there is no bottom half to this design in the picture, I decided to base it partly on another art of Arashi in a different kimono outfit in which she wears black lace-up ankle boots and her kimono flares out more like a skirt. For ease of cleaning/ironing and wearing, I decided to make the kimono top and the bottom skirt part into two separate pieces.
The kimono top is a regular kimono top with extra long sleeves. It is a purple Kona cotton and a plain yellow broadcloth for the inner kimono. After patterning out my entire kimono, I prepared paper templates and patterns for all of the flowers and leaves on the sleeves. Once I got my placement, sizing, and proportioning down, I cut each of the flowers out of a cream colored cotton. I airbrushed the pink shading into each and every flower, and then once they were dry I hand painted the darker designs into them. Then, I appliqued, painted, and satin stitched the orange/yellow flowers centers into them. I gradient airbrushed the yellow leaves as well. Once all of that was done, I pinned the flowers and leaves in place, one by one, and satin stitched each and every edge (and some lines/designs on the insides of the flowers) using a tear-away stabilizer. This took QUITE a lot of time, and quite a bit of thread! (Glad the Sulky was on sale that week...)
Once all the applique work was done, I assembled the kimono pieces and finished all the raw edges with a zigzag. I chose a cotton fabric because typically, more casual kimono are made of cottons for ease of washing care, and I knew also that the cotton would accept all of the paint and airbrushing really well. I airbrushed, appliqued, and satin stitched the skirt in the same manner as I did the kimono top.
For the armor, I dug into my veg-tan leather stash. The leather I used for this armor was 6-7ish oz. I wet-formed the breast cups on some wig heads, then trimmed them down to the right shape when they were dry. I formed the body plate around a dressform as well. I cut out all of the dangley plates (lol my technical terms) and side/back plates, then finished all the edges of the leather with some leather gum and plastic wheel so that all of the edges would be smooth and shiny. After that, I painted all of the armor with black leather paint. I sewed all of the base armor (breast cups, torso plate, back/side plates) together after hand-punching all of the stitch holes into it, then trimmed all of the leather in a flat braided cord trim. I pulled the same cord through the holes in the dangling plates on the back and knotted them so the plates would stay in place. The armor laces up the back.
The sword is made from Worbla and a Party City ninja sword I picked up a few years ago. I disassembled the cheesy ninja sword until I had just the blade, then I built a base handle for it with some scrap wood and a bolt/nut. I covered the base handle with a glob of Worbla, then heated it and carved all the designs into it with the handle of a plastic spoon. Once it was all formed, I primed it with spray Gesso and then painted it with gold Testors spray.
The wig is a purple-black wig I picked up on eBay, no idea what brand, all I did was trim the bangs and tie ribbons into it. :)
Best in Show Craftsmanship - Ohayocon 2013