Sewing for Me: The Sumo Wrestler Top


I had such high hopes for this top. It’s from this book, and you can see how stylish it looks when professionally photographed below – I’ve shared this image before, and it got pinned like crazy. It’s clearly a cute garment, but I’m guessing you can’t have curves to pull off this look. The curves, oh the curves. They are accentuated in a way that I can’t say is flattering. Hence the name of the post.


So let’s talk details: the fabric I used is a shot cotton, I believe. I’ve had it for many years, and this blue is high up on my list of favorite colors. The fabric has variegated threads that give it a gorgeous iridescence. It makes me think of peacocks, mediterranean seas, rare pockets of smog-free Los Angeles skies. I thought the sheerness and the drape would work well with this pattern; I was overly optimistic, it seems. I cut the size 11, which is the medium (there are only three size options: 9, 11, 13), but I think I should have gone down one size due to its billowy nature.

It looks like such a simple top, but it has a lot of cool little details: angled pleats/pintucks that converge at the base, ties at the side, gathered sleeves, etc.


Can you believe I took photos outside? I’ve been pretty phobic about it because I knew I’d get self-conscious if any of the neighbors saw me. But I finished the top yesterday while K was playing with a friend (yes, I was procrastinating. Again) — there’s only one pattern piece to trace since the front and back are the same, and I figured it would be a quick project. It wasn’t as quick as I’d hoped with all the pleating, binding, and ties creating. By the time I finished, I was scrambling to catch the last of the light and this meant venturing out to the sadly ignored community garden in the back of our house. What you see is me at my most au naturale: no make-up and hair in my usual state of disarray.


Of course, I’ve selected the least offending photos, but look:


Sumo wrestler. 95% of the photos look like this (and there were tons of photos). Also, I realized that compared to the photo from the book, my neckline is much wider. I like it! Upon further reflection, maybe this makes me look like a Smurf. And here I am, trying to prove that really, there’s nothing underneath:


Despite the exaggerated rolls this top gives me and despite its clinginess, I haven’t given up on it. The solution might be in some sort of anti-static cami to wear underneath.


The dolman sleeves! I love that part. Can’t beat the comfort, and maybe if I try it in a rayon challis…but that’s so slippery…okay, procrastination time over and back to painting!





50 thoughts on “Sewing for Me: The Sumo Wrestler Top

  1. Okay, first I am very jealous that you can take pictures outside in short sleeves and not be freezing- ha! Second, I really like this shirt! Love the dolman sleeves and the pleat details. And the color of the fabric is great. I wouldn’t give up on it either

    1. Ha, it was a little chilly, but we’re having an unusual warm blast blowing through Seattle right now. Thanks, Meghan!

  2. Sumo wrestler? I believe you are giving them a bad name by calling yourself as such in this gorgeous top. I love the third photo from the top–fabric, smile everything! It’s a great top and it looks lovely on you.

    1. Well…you realize I am very selective about the photos I include, Asmita πŸ™‚ I thought long and hard about including a side view that would have better illustrated the point, but I just couldn’t go there…

  3. I was reading your description and waiting for the most horrendous photos, but they simply never came. That top looks fine. It’s certainly not form fitting but with the fitted jeans your wearing it really accentuates your legs and booty.


    1. I have no booty, so your comment is hilarious to me, Mae! It’s all smokes and mirrors from well-fitting jeans that I’ve had for nearly 10 years.

  4. I agree with the others, you look fab and I love the top! Not just being nice, I truly think you look fab. I am very envious, I would never look as good ‘au naturale’!

    1. Yes! I was thinking the same thing! I couldn’t find my longer skinny jeans in my rush, so I had to make do with what I could scrounge up. I also think boots would up the presentability factor. Thanks, Carrie!

  5. So maybe not THE most flattering top in the world, but the color is great, the styling with the skinny jeans rocks, the photoshoot is pretty cool and the lady wearing the top looks beautiful! IΒ΄d say I like it!

    1. Thanks, Ute! So sweet! You don’t even want to see the really unflattering photos which I’m working on deleting from my hard drive!

  6. My you are hard on yourself. I think that it looks cute on you. Granted a flowy top like that tends to add the illusion of more curves but I don’t think it’s the most unflattering top ever!

    1. Too kind, Bridget! Again, I pored over the images, trying to find the best ones. I had a hideously embarrassing photo of me that got published in my high school yearbook, so I’m very careful about what becomes public record…;-)

  7. Have to agree with the others! I totally know the feeling you are describing but in this case, at least in photos, I don’t think this is unflattering at all. Of course if you don’t feel good I’m it that is what really matters.

    1. It’s funny because I loved the shirt when I first put it on and glanced in the mirror. Then I saw all the photos and gasped. These shoots are very helpful, I must say. From the side, the blouse makes me look like a big lumpy circle!

  8. I actually really like it on you. I don’t think it looks bad at all… although I know what you mean… I feel that way in tops sometimes too. In my case it’s because I’m broad shouldered, a little bigger I the bust and carry my weight in my stomach. Such is not the case for you! πŸ™‚

    1. Thank you, Kristi! The stomach bulge really depends on the time of the month for me. I have a window of about three days when I strut around with a flat tummy, but the rest of the month I’m comfortably pot-bellied πŸ™‚

  9. I like this top. I like it on you. It is exactly the kind of top I gravitate to. I love the pleat detail, the color, the airiness of it. It looks beautifully made and I think you rock this top!

    1. The pleats are definitely cool, and I totally gravitate toward this style too. The more I think about it, the more it felt like the top was clinging to the cami I wore underneath, which then paradoxically trapped air, making me look like a misshapen balloon. Who knows? Thanks, though, Corina!

  10. I actually think it looks quite beautiful and I love your styling with it – skinny jeans on the bottom to compensate for the fuller top. That color is gorgeous, and really, your smile in the top photo is what catches my eye anyway – so warm and lovely:)

    1. You noticed that! I thought it was a bit of an awkward length too. Still, it’s really comfy so knowing me, it’ll be in high rotation πŸ™‚

    1. After all these lovely comments, I think I will just rock it! It would definitely be a nice spring staple. Thanks, Bella!

    1. I agree that it’s a unique top with all the details, and with the drape and gathers, it definitely feels feminine! Thanks, Nienke. I might be able to loosen the cinch at the waist a little to make it less voluminous…that might help!

  11. Ha! Funny descriptions… I think it just looks…blousey. Maybe it is clingy, and that would be a deal breaker for me, too, but it’s hard to tell in these photos. That’s the love/hate part about photos…choose the best because, come on, this is going on the internet…but then it’s hard to see the flaws πŸ˜‰ I think these blousey, banded somehow at the bottom types are great for builds with slimmer hips and great legs. I agree with one of the other commenters, I look less at the shirt and more at your butt. Ha. I’ve been so busy, it is too much work to comment on my phone, but I do so love this space!

    1. I hear ya on having a hard time commenting these days, Monica! I love your very insightful comment – yes, this is the internet, do I really want to look truly sumo-like as I did in at least 100 other photos? Nope. Thanks, girl!

  12. Hi there! I just wanted to say that I love the top πŸ™‚ I think the colour is gorgeous. The might be a touch puffy when you are just standing there hands by side but really awesome when you are in motion. Anyway, its lovely!

    1. The color is truly gorgeous and I’ve been hoarding this fabric for a long time. Another reason I’m reluctant to give up on the top – thanks, Grace!

  13. Oh it is lovely, the colour, the details , I too think its nice on , with fitted jeans or tights it looks good. Having said that I get your reservations as I have a similar style top I sometimes just don’t feel good in – all depends on my mood. Wear it for a bit and don’t give up on it yet.

    1. Normally I like them too, Sonya. πŸ™‚ But this one is weirdly clingy and voluminous so I’m trying to figure out how to wear it. I may just have to try making it in a different fabric to see how it changes the feel of the top!

  14. Love the color, the sleeves and the way the back lays. I agree it pooches a bit weird in the bottom half of the front. Maybe a cami or tacking the poof somehow would help? I also agree with everyone else’s thoughts that it makes your legs and bum look good. I also don’t think you look BAD in these photos. It’s just a very blousy top! I really like blousy tops.

    1. Thanks Em! The pooch is definitely weird, and I’m not sure how I would tack it down – I think the pintucks are meant to make it less poufy than gathers, but oh well!

  15. i love the top! beautiful color, beautifully executed. i like very boxy/flowy tops with skinny jeans! i think the pleats are on a very unfortunate spot, maybe skipping them next time would help? but over all a really cute shirt! I’d wear it in a heart beat (and I’m surely no skinny minny!)

    1. ohmygosh, “the unfortunate spot” made me laugh out loud – I didn’t even think of that! Maybe if the pleats weren’t so close together? Hmmmm…food for thought, thank you!

  16. Both you and the top look absolutely gorgeous here! i think if it were made in a stiffer fabric that didn’t move so well with the body it might be too boxy and “sumo”. but the outdoor light really captured the sheerness of the fabric and i love those curves that are showing through! both the back and front views are super cute. Good job! (Don’t you just love that you have all of these cyber sisters cheering you on?! So great. πŸ™‚

    1. Thank you, Gita! Too kind, all of you! The fabric really is divine and I’m considering making a version without gathering the sleeves. That might reduce some of the general puffiness πŸ™‚

    1. Thanks Sophie! As you know, we have mighty powers to pick and choose the least scarring photos for the world wide web to record permanently…that said, the top is definitely becoming more charming by the day! I plan on wearing it to a birthday dinner tonight! I’ll be able to eat a lot without anyone noticing my rapidly inflating tummy πŸ™‚

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