Things I Learned from Wardrobe Sudokuing

What with the Wardrobe Sudoku Contest being two whole months and ten projects, and what with my recent series considering wardrobe plans and finding a style, I’ve been doing a lot of contemplation about the projects I was working on, and how it relates to my overall wardrobe, sewing, and style goals as a whole, especially as it relates to the wardrobe planning I started last year.  So I figured that I would sort of have a catch all of ramblings that I found myself pondering as I went through this contest.  Here are a few things I’ve been thinking about over the past two months:

(1) As much as my weight has been fluctuating the past few years, my pattern sizing, by and large, has remained fairly consistent.  My Burda sizes are pretty much what they were when I first started sewing them several years ago.  Some of my older pieces have gotten a bit tight, so I got nervous, and remeasured myself, and got even more nervous because some of the numbers had changed.  Which led to me sewing several tops that were too big.  Not so large as to be unwearable, but, I’d go down at least one size for all of the patterns next time I sew them.  A bit sad I’m not in love with my tops, but, after that experience I feel more comfortable selecting a pattern size for myself again.  Sad to say, it’s a skill I’ve sort of lost in the past few years of sewing so much for others.

(2) If I really want to, I can find time to sew every day.  It might mean trading out a meal or an hour of sleep, but, I can.  This was something I’d sort of used as an excuse in the past for not getting things done.  But, if I really want to, I can get things done in 1-2 hours a day.  Larger projects (like cutting out fabric) I can strategically plan for the days I have a chunk of time, and smaller things (like sewing a pocket or tracing a pattern) I can do in a one hour time segment.  This contest has got me in the habit of sewing every day, or, at the least, thinking about sewing every day, which is a great improvement from where I was even a few months ago.  Regardless of how my sudoku board actually turned out, this is what I really needed to gain from this experience, and for that I’m eternally grateful.

(3) I need to rethink my pattern storage.  I actually have a fairly organized pattern stash in that I have a catalog system that allows me to find things fairly quickly.  And when you have as many patterns as I do, that isn’t a small task.  But my physical storage is practically at capacity.  And the vast majority of it is pretty much buried behind a wall of fabric at the moment.  I need my patterns to be more accessible to encourage me to use them, and to be efficient at re-filing them.  Not that I wouldn’t reach for a Burda 9 times out of 10 anyway, but since I keep my Burda magazines easily accessible, when it came time to make final pattern choices, if I was between a Burda and a non-Burda, I went Burda, simply for ease of pulling out the pattern.  Which means my storage system is actually rather ineffective.  I’ve actually schemed up quite an awesome plan to remedy this, but it might require another paycheck and a large enough chunk of time to head to Ikea…

(4) I recently went through a long series of posts about wardrobe planning, but I think I need to ponder this some more.  I felt pretty happy with my Polyvore prowess, but this didn’t really translate into a wardrobe that I loved.  I think, maybe, I was a bit too restrictive in my color scheme, with a bit too much focus on my main accent color, and not enough focus on the neutral colors.  Or, maybe, I needed more different accent colors to add variety.  I recently read an article about pairing down a closet based on consolidating colors, but, honestly, I’m not sure I could deal with such a narrow color palette for an entire wardrobe, especially considering the struggle I had with a 16-piece collection!

(5) I don’t know if I am the sort of person who can pull off wearing combine prints particularly well.  I always love when contestants on Project Runway or other sewing bloggers mix all the crazy prints together and look amazing.  I’m just not sure I can do that.  Or, at least, I don’t think it was entirely successful in this collection.  I still love prints, but I think when I mix too many of them it feels like the clothes are fighting each other.  It doesn’t feel effortless.  And one thing I’ve learned from skating is that things things in life are rarely effortless, but if you can fool others into thinking they are then you’re doing something right.

(6) I think I need to find some way to add something more “me” into my looks.  Not gonna lie, I’m a pretty hardcore nerd.  And while part of my wardrobe musings was aimed at getting me away from living a life in jeans and graphic t-shirts, a wardrobe of solid basics and background neutrals isn’t really “me” either.  Of course, saying this is a bit ironic because the problem I have with my sudoku wardrobe is that there aren’t enough basic neutrals.  But, honestly, there must be a better way for me to blend my love of nerd-dom and sartorial interests that can be both stylish and sophisticated without being too fussy, or having to resort to wearing geek-print leggings and t-shirts on a daily basis.  Not that there is anything wrong with geek-print leggings and t-shirts.  I’m just at a point where I don’t think I can pull that off with the unassuming nonchalance of someone two-thirds my age.  Though I’ve got some interesting ideas of things I want to play with.  This is probably something that won’t manifest as a reality for a while, but it’s an idea I also can’t quite seem to get out of my head.  So, more nerdy clothing on the forefront?  In the form of mini wardrobe collections?  It is a distinct possibility.

(7) My sewing machine controls the weather.  I may have noted this before, as the creation of my blue raincoat put California into so deep a drought that a winter of rain and floods hasn’t been enough to get us out of it.  This Wardrobe Sudoku project has had much the same effect.  I thought I would sew a nice set of transitional pieces that would take me from winter into spring.  But we’ve had no spring.  It lasted all of one glorious perfect day, and now it’s summer.  Which probably sounds insane to those who suffered through Storm Crazy Balls on the east coast, but, seriously.  Summer.  I should have sudokued for summer, because, looking through my wardrobe, I am ill equipped for the soon-to-be hot days ahead.  I’m totally set for the end of next fall though!

(8) I’ve got a German butt.  I mean, there isn’t really a better way to say it.  Seriously, Burda drafts for my ass.  There is no way I would have finished this wardrobe if I’d had to do major muslins for all of the bottoms – I honestly just cut the fabric and preyed.  One time it didn’t work out, but, after learning from my fabric choice error, the rest of them fit astonishingly well.  Granted, I fudge them a bit by sewing slightly smaller seam allowanced than I cut, but it’s a very minor change to get a great fit out of the envelope (or, well, magazine).

(9) The best fly front tutorial to use with Burda drafting:

(10) I probably would not do a sudoku board plan again without another Pattern Review contest.  While I did learn the importance of creating pieces that play well with others, if I was going to make a mini-wardrobe collection in the future I would probably want to include more dresses and other sorts of pieces, and mix and match in less restrictive ways than are allowed through this set up.  I’m really glad I did it, but, I don’t think I need to do another sudoku board plan anytime soon.

(11) I really do like everything I’ve made much better in hindsight.  The white pants I was a bit cautious of when I’d first finished, but now I absolutely love them.  I feel so elegant and comfortable every time I put them on.  The cold shoulder top is a really cozy piece, even if I’ll have to wear a modesty tank under it in the real world.  I really want to make another in a fabric that will be more appropriate for spring, and in a smaller size.  I always loved the skinny trousers, but they are really warm, so I will definitely need to make another pair in a less thick fabric soon.  And I really like the neck tie blouse – I think I might make another in a silky fabric soon as well.



(12) It takes a really long time to photograph 16 outfits!  And it is also a really hot and annoying task.  And one should not evaluate one’s own work after going through the task of changing and photographing 16 outfits, as one will likely be hot, rushed, and annoyed with everything.

(13) I have to figure out what is up with my camera and my editing software.  My camera won’t focus or shoot on automatic settings anymore, and my editing software makes the photos look great during the edit, but they seem really blurry after I upload them?  There must be some compression happening somewhere, but I need to figure out where the problem is so I can remedy it.  I don’t really want to get a new camera, but I really need to figure out if I can get mine fixed somehow.  Also, I might need to work out self-timer settings so I can photograph things more conveniently in the future.

(14) I miss my sister who is the best at positioning me for fashion photos.  I am not as creative or poised without her telling me to turn in my foot just that much.

(15) I really want to participate in the Bargainista contest that is happening right now too!  But I have too many commissions to do, and it was really hard with these contests overlapping.  I really wish that the new contest hadn’t started until April 1, because I have a really awesome project I want to try for it.  I’ll maybe have to pull some late nights to see if I can fit it in by the 15th…

25 thoughts on “Things I Learned from Wardrobe Sudokuing

  1. Oh and forgot to add. I have similar issues with photos losing resolution when uploaded to my WordPress blog. Think it’s something to do with compression and can’t be fixed on the free version of WordPress. I’ve been meaning to look into it and upgrade but work commitments keep getting in the way.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow! I am very impressed a) that you did the whole sudoku and b) with your wardrobe. I love the jacket and the blue top and the white trousers especially, and I don’t have the sense of garments fighting each other.Too bad about the weather, though. this comment sounds a bit wet – truly I am sooo impressed.


  3. What an impressive display! I do really like everything you’ve made and they obviously go together well. But I think it would be awesome to see more “you”, nerdy clothes. I’m having similar thoughts at the moment – am I the kind of person who wears printed fit and flare dresses every day, skirts and shirts, or more conventional skinny pants and tops? The answer, I think, is all of them. It’s fun to mix and match styles if you feel comfortable in them.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. What an interesting post! It really resonated with me because I’ve had a lot of the same issues over the last few year: changing sizes, lack of time to sew, and whether to sew Space Clothes or be more practical. I’m always amazed at your productivity so clearly an hour a day is working for you.

    Looking forward to seeing your pattern storage solution!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. It’s amazing you managed to sew all those clothes, but even more amazing they are all so lovely! Are you a little bit hard on yourself? Anyway you must have learned SO much that you can apply to future projects. Would LOVE to see some nerdy clothes! I draw Star Wars, aliens, LOTR stuff all day long so it would be cool to see what you do.

    Love ALL the outfits you made, my favs are the row one jacket, the complete row two (that sequin top is on my to-do list), and column 3. But again, love them all!

    The sizing thing resonates with me… I’m finishing up my 5th project since decided to really learn to sew, and no matter how many times I take my measurements, my projects are just not the right size. Since I had my kids I went up three sizes and now am back down two sizes, but the old body ain’t what she used to be. Out of the 5 projects, 2 are wearable even though they are too big. But I guess I’ll figure it out.

    I do a lot of fiddling around with images, and have a wordpress site (self-hosted). I don’t know everything about WP and images but would be happy to help if I’m able to!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! If I run into a specific question I’ll shoot you a comment. Right now it’s just trying to figure out the resolution, and why it looks such low quality on the blog when the photos look much better in my editing program. Taking better photos can be a goal for after I sort that out.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ve been using GIMP. And I’ve been uploading images that are a minimum of 1000 pixels in the smaller direction and I think at least 100ppi, which I think should be ok for posting to the web. If you have any suggestions for settings that would be awesome.


      2. I use photoshop, but you should have similar settings. When you import you images, you must have image info settings somewhere in Gimp? More or less give or take something like the image stuck in below…. You’ve got pixels per height, pixels per width, and pixels per inch. They’re all important but the Pixels Per Inch is the one that usually affects the quality of your image. 72 is the standard for posting to the web, but 150 is ideal. But most of all it depends on whatever you are using to take the pictures first of all… If your phone or camera is set for 72, it can still be adjusted, but it’ll still be pixel-y. Try upping the image quality on whatever you are using, as well as in Gimp.

        Let me know if it helps! 🙂


  6. I love your wardrobe, so many lovely pieces. I have some thoughts too:
    1 you may need some time away from the clothes to truly appreciate them. Given it is now too warm for them, this will happen anyway.
    2 nerd can be stylish and mature, but needs to rethinking to make it so. Maybe just one nerdy thing with secret pyjamas in neutrals. That is, a science geek print in a blouse, with a plain jacket & pants made of comfy fabric.
    3 I also love seeing prints mixed, on other people. I cannot pull it off for myself. I just feel like a three year old playing dress ups.
    4. I think you are way too hard on yourself. This wardrobe is awesome, but it’s not totally complete for you, it is an excellent beginning. You’ll gradually add in pieces that will pad it out and make it work. But you may not notice that’s happened until a year or so down the track.

    I am impressed by your output! So very well done.


    1. Thanks! The comment about playing dress-up certainly describes how so felt in a few of these outfits. And I totally agree that a subtle geek with neutrals is on my mind at the moment.


  7. Darn it about the weather!

    I really did love the way your plan came together. I think you got some really great pieces out of the deal, and good to know that some things have grown on you more.

    I totally assumed the B.F. contest started 4/1 and then realized it was 3/15. I’d better get a move on if I’m going to enter my dress!


    1. Good luck! I have a plan of something I want to make, but I don’t know if I will have time. I’m going to have to see if I can get it done this weekend, which I *might* be able to pull off, but I really wish they hadn’t overlapped those two contests!


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