Speaking of which, I'm redoing Armor 2.0. Which isn't anywhere near done. Yeah. I'm keeping the first version around just in case the second starts sucking, but there are things that could be done better and more efficiently, and said things are starting to annoy me.
First of all, 1/8" Volara foam is great for thin structural items, like collars, and it works for embellishments that are easy to cut out. For tricky embellishments, like foofy butterflies and swirly designs, craft foam is a much better choice. I can cut thin craft foam with my spiffy tiny-nosed detail scissors. Volara is too tough for that. I had to cut the swirlies with regular kitchen scissors, which was annoying and produced less neat results than I would have achieved with craft foam and detail scissors. (They look OK in context and with a buttload of gesso, which allowed me to even out some of the wonkiness that pissed me off, but still, I can do better, and that chafes me.)
Second, I now know how to glue darts evenly and without taking chunks out of the foam by accident when removing the tape. Attaching the collar was a real pain in the ass until I thought I'd try leaving it taped and squidging in E-6000 from the reverse side. That worked quite well. I would therefore glue darts in the same way - tape them tightly on the front, squidge glue in from the back.
Even darts + no divots = no need for gesso. I've seen plain Volara painted with acrylics. If its texture works with the paint job (and, for this armor, it does), it looks great. No gesso = no need for sanding and no worries about the piece getting flattened by accident. Gesso pulls it flat when it dries, and it's also heavy. I hadn't touched the chest and back plates in a while, and they fell flat sitting in the bathroom closet. >_>
If you do wish to gesso, do so before gluing down detail that will be a pain to sand around. Even if that detail has to be gessoed, you can just lay a coat on it afterward.
There's just one problem. I'm having trouble acquiring the awesome cotton duck piping I'd used as trim. JoAnn's doesn't sell it any more, and it doesn't appear in Wal-Mart's incredibly random collection. (I normally avoid Hel-Mart, but when it comes to tracking down obscure craft supplies and you don't have much choice of local stores...eh.) I found it for sale at one online store, but the store requires a $25 minimum order and it might take a couple of weeks to deliver. I have plenty of time before Otakon, but I don't like long shipping delays.
However, I could Frankenstein some nice piping (which might even work better overall) out of filler cord and bias quilt binding or strapping. I say it might work better because it will have neat edges on the seam allowance (the other stuff is frayed), its surface will be smoother (and thus more efficient to seal - I'd probably need a coat or two of gesso and minimal sanding) and I have a better idea of how to glue it so it doesn't wave up and down at all. My piping mistakes on the armor I have now aren't that noticeable, but I can tell where they are.