Past Lives

I have something a little different to show you today. While cleaning out an old laptop, Professor Boyfriend came across these photos of the first garments I ever sewed! I’m saying garments instead of clothes, well, because…see!


The time: Halloween 2010. The show: Avatar: The Last Airbender. The place: our beloved first apartment, a studio where I kept my sewing machine in a skinny cabinet next to the stove, the one meant for cookie sheets. The face: mine! And little!!


I’m writing this post from memories that are nearly a decade old. Some things I remember clearly, like buying the fabric from a discount store in East Cambridge called Sew-Low, one of those dark, chaotic, multi-story shops totally stuffed with unlabelled bolts of fabric (sadly since closed). Other details, not so much. I don’t remember how I worked out the “pattern pieces” – in quotes because I had never sewn a pattern before! How did I cut out a sleeve? Was it even remotely sleeve-shaped?

Okay, let’s rewind. I had recently sewn a tote bag, and thought the logical next step was to create a Kyoshi warrior costume.



I bought several yards of discount cotton (?) and merrily chopped it into, at a guess, only rectangles. The belt: for sure a rectangle. The skirt: a smaller rectangle over a larger rectangle. The sleeve ties: rectangles. Neck band: a rectangle, almost certainly not cut on the bias. Apparently I had clothes figured out.

I don’t remember whether I skipped the sleeve details because of time constraints, an acknowledgement of my own lack of experience, or – terrifyingly – some notion of practicality (did I think I would wear this again?).


I’m laughing at myself now, but also, hey, good for Kid Lia. I didn’t know what I didn’t know!  I never changed thread color, and the belt, in particular, seems to have been hemmed one edge at a time. I guess I couldn’t sew a corner yet!


I think the layered skirts had a shared elastic waistband. Sadly there’s no record of this costume without the brad-and-cardboard armor, but if I put elastic into the sleeves as these photos imply, I probably would have bodged some into the skirt as well.


Despite the uneven hem of the bodice (so memorably awful that I can still picture it), the anarchic seam allowances with no finishes, and those sleeves that I still can’t riddle out, this Halloween folly bound me to sewing (with hoops of cardboard!). I don’t remember what I spent, exactly which fabric I used, or how long it took. I remember my pride, though! I wanted to make something, so I did! What can beat that feeling?

I don’t have any technical sewing advice. Just this: if you want to make something, you should!

NERD ALERT  – regular sewing enthusiasts can stop reading now. But! Which kind of bender do you think you would be? I’m politically aligned with moderate Equalists (why should the entire police force and government be benders? HMM?) but at the end of the day, pre-Korra, Earthbending please. ^_- Though to quote a certain Airbender –


“Flameo, hotman!”   

6 thoughts on “Past Lives

  1. WOW! Past you must be so pleased that you found her in all her past grandeur!
    I do regret not having a cell phone to record all my pasts. NOW…on to backing up all those old pics I do have…


    1. I was super excited to come across these – there were just on one old laptop, not stored in the cloud or anything (I actually still don’t have a smart phone, but I’m definitely tempted by the camera quality). Definitely back up your photos! It’s so much fun to stumble across them later! 😀


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