How did I start costuming?

I found Star Wars after seeing Episode 2 in cinemas on opening day, I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. I was instantly hooked, and soon began buying a lot of Star Wars collectibles online. During one of my usual ebay searches, I found a listing for a custom made wool jedi cloak. I couldn't resist it. So, in January 2003, I had my first costume piece. I started researching online, bought myself a second-hand sewing machine and started pulling apart shirts to draft a jedi tunic pattern. I finished my first costume (jedi knight) in April 2004, and joined the Rebel Legion and Jedi Assembly.

In 2005, I bought an Imperial Officer costume and joined the 501st Legion - I was convinced my sewing skills would never improve to be able to sew the tailored outfit. In 2006, my boyfriend and I planned a trip to visit the Episode 2 filming location Villa Balbianello in Italy. Two weeks before we left, I had the insane idea of making Padme's lake retreat arrival gown as a surprise for my boyfriend. I had no concept of how to sew properly, and I hand-painted the colours - I did need to spoil the surprise to get my boyfriends' help with the neckpiece. I finished it just hours before we got on the plane, but you know what, I was really proud of how it turned out - and the experience of wearing it at the same location as the original was amazing. If I could tackle something like that, then perhaps I could try other costumes I loved but always thought I would never be able to make. And I've just kept going - still making things up as I go along, learning heaps, and loving it :)

Why "Anaria Zar-Rel"?

When I finished my first costume (jedi knight), I wanted a username for the Rebel Legion that fit with a jedi character. So, as any mmo/rpg player knows, I spent a long time playing with name variations. Anaria came from Anakin/Amidala variations, and Zar-Rel is a variation on Superman names (Kal-El, Jor-El), and hyphenated Star Wars names (Obi-Wan & Qui-Gon). So, that's how I found my name.

Below is a gallery of my completed costumes to date. Each image is a link through to a page dedicated to that costume/character with more (and larger) images and details. I also have a account which contains images from costuming events, and photos of costumes I have made for others. My Livejournal blog is the site where I post about costumes-in-progress, and ideas for upcoming costumes.

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random costume