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Making Sanq Kingdom Relena

Did you know that I made my first cosplay over 20 years ago? Back then, I was obsessed with the anime Gundam Wing! There were several costumes from the show that I always wanted to sew but lacked the know-how to tackle. Now I've racked up enough XP to create one of them! Come along as I make a cosplay I've dreamed about making for 20 years!

The costume is Relena's outfit for representing the Sanq Kingdom at political functions. Below are some of the references I used when drafting the pattern for this cosplay:

Relena Cosplay References; 3 illustrations of the character Relena from the anime Gundam Wing

First, I made a mockup of the patterns, focusing on digitally recreating the art nouveau-like designs on the collar, lapel, and cuffs. The design changes slightly from reference to reference, so I decided to eyeball it and make changes to fit my preference for rounder shapes.

Next, I decided that I was going to apply these design elements using a combination of both applique and machine embroidery. I started by applying the lighter grey designs to the coat's neckline, and satin stitched them along their outer edges.

I followed this by cutting out the design that borders the collar with my favorite fusible webbing Lite Steam-A-Seam and applying it along the neckline. It was then satin stitched in place using the same embroidery thread I would use in a later step for the lapel pieces.

Find a blog post on how I like to make applique easy here or a video here!

I created custom embroidery files for the lapels, collar, and cuffs and let my machine stitch out the files. The fabric I used was fussy because it has a slight 2-way stretch, so I doubled up on the stabilizer to prevent puckering. Once the embroidery machine finished stitching the designs, I added applique borders to the lapels and cuffs.

I then assembled all the accessory parts of the coat and basted them in place.

Next up was adding lining- this was a bit of a long process because I opted to use fabric I had on hand (everyone loves making an excellent stash-buster cosplay, am I right?) That meant that the material I was using was not as heavyweight or opaque as I wanted, so I used three layers to line the coat- a layer of white taffeta, fusible interfacing, and a pink lining layer that would be visible.

Next, I needed to custom-make some epaulets! Her epaulets are a somewhat unusual shape, so I didn't want to buy ready-made ones. Instead, I used my favorite material for adding structure to a cosplay- Flexfoam!

You can find a tutorial on how I like working with it here or a video on the process here.

Once done, I hand-stitched the epaulets to the shoulders of the coat. I followed that with large decorative buttons.

On to the breeches! The fabric I wanted to use was the right color but had way too much of a sheen, so I used an old-school cosplayer trick- using the matte backside of shiny fabric! It felt fitting to do this for a cosplay I'd only dreamt of making back in the days when finding solid color fabric usually meant resorting to sewing with shiny satins due to the lack of selection available at stores.

I then proceeded to make the blouse and ascot. Around this point in the costume-making process, I realized I was making a pastel monster. What a hideously fun cosplay!

I made a double-breasted vest.

(You can get the pattern for it in my store, by the way!)

I followed with creating the cummerbund—fun fact: cummerbunds developed as an alternative garment to vests in hot climates, and you should not wear the two together in real formalwear. I am making a cosplay costume, though, so there are NO RULES! I needed to draft my cummerbund pattern to fit over my lady-shaped hips, so I designed it to angle & taper at the sides into an elastic band in the back to be more comfortable.

Once assembled, I was ready to live my best life, finally cosplaying Relena in her Sanq Kingdom diplomatic garb! Here's a look at the finished cosplay:

Thanks for reading!


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