I was going to say wow, we sure have come a long way since we started making costumes...but actually these aren't too shabby considering that we were only 12! Though the Spider-Man costume (worn daily by Nick from age 6-9) was store bought.
The idea came from our favorite anime at the time, Ranma 1/2. (Actually it's hilarious, you should check out the manga or the show if you can.) I had gone to the very first Ushicon Anime Convention in Austin the year before and told John all about it, so we decided that the next time around we would go with our friends and dress up as our favorite characters.
The material for my Ukyo costume was a lucky garage-sale find of jersey knit in the perfect color and strips of cotton for the bindings. I spread my brand-new karate gi on the floor and traced the basic outline of it onto the blue knit, then cut it out and bound the edges with the white fabric. This was all pre-sewing machine, so everything was sewn by hand.
I found some black leggings in my drawers, bought a fluffy white bow for my hair, and then crafted the small bandolier and throwing-spatulas carefully out of packing tape, tin foil, and cardboard. For the giant spatula, essential to the costume, my dad let me have a length of pipe which we hammered flat at both ends. One end was wrapped in medical tape for a grip, and the other attached to a big piece of cardboard and covered with lots and lots of duct tape. Tada! I didn't know better than to wear my tennis shoes and my watch, but overall I was really pleased with the outcome. My first cosplay, a success!
John's Ryoga costume was a little trickier, but we didn't let that get us down. We actually had to have our mom take us to Hobby Lobby and buy the right color fabric for his shirt and headband. We didn't know it at the time, but the material was cheap quilter's cotton...not the best for costumes! John cut apart one of his long sleeved shirts (we had never heard of patterns) and traced the shape onto the fabric, then sewed it all together by hand as I had my shirt. The leftover material was folded into a headband and a black sharpie added the stripes. The umbrella was another challenge--it was a very specific prop, in the Chinese style and bright red with a black tip. We finally found the style, and John bought it and painted it red and black. The rest was just black sweatpants tied up with yarn and a sash of black fabric for a belt.
Despite our mishaps (hand-sewing, quilter's cotton, sneakers...), we had so much fun making those costumes and going to cons that it became a big hobby for us though high school and beyond.