Pattern Review

Briar, I’m in love

I don’t care if Renfrew’s blue
Vogue is gray and Simplicity too
Butterick I don’t care about you
It’s Briar, I’m in love…

Creative Counselor: Briar, I'm in love
Megan Nielsen Briar top

When I first saw Megan Nielsen’s new Briar top pattern, I wanted to love it. After all, it’s a Megan Nielsen pattern, and I adore Megan Nielsen. I admit, I have a little lady crush on her πŸ™‚ I mean, she has great style, puts out beautiful patterns, she was the first-ever big name in the online sewing world to leave a comment on my blog, and she used to live in Iowa. Less than an hour from my home town, no less. Obviously we were meant to be BFFs.

But I have to admit that when I first saw Briar, I wasn’t totally in love. I’ve always been a little skeptical of the hi-low hem. It reminds me a bit of the 80s and I questioned whether it would look good on me, since I’m short and curvy rather than an Amazon stick figure.

Still, it was my BFF Megan Nielsen, so I got the pattern.

Man, was I wrong about Briar. It pretty much took all my preconceived notions about hi-low knit tops, stuck them in a blender and whipped them up into a smoothie, forcing me to eat my words.

Creative Counselor: Briar back view
Back view.

This is probably the most comfortable and flattering top that I own! The length is absolutely perfect. I love how the back is longer so that there is no waist gap when I bend over, but the front still hits at hip level, which is very flattering. The neckline is perfect and sits completely flat. I made the long-sleeved version, and the sleeve length is perfect on me. And the overall shape of the top is fantastic! It drapes really nicely and has a subtle A-line shape that is so slimming. It doesn’t hug that middle area that tends to be a little rolley on so many women, but doesn’t billow either.

Creative Counselor: Briar side view
Side view of the hi-low hem.

And it was easy to boot. Eliminating the pockets, there were only 4 pattern pieces (even the pocket would only make 5 pieces), so cutting was a breeze. The construction was really straightforward, too. I probably spent a total of about 2 hours on this top — from cutting to final hemming! Frankly, what probably took the most time was turning under the bottom hem. I made sure to go really slowly on that since the hem is curved and I wanted it to be smooth.

I used my double needle on the neckline, sleeve and bottom hems.The result is a really professional looking top. In fact, when I showed it to Albert after I finished it, his comment was that it looks like it could have come straight out of a Lululemon store. Now that’s an endorsement if I ever heard one!

You might be asking right now, “Katie, why do you love this top so much when you were so lukewarm about Renfrew the other day?Β  This top looks a little big, too.”Β  And my answer would be that this top is loose, but it’s not big.Β  The shoulders fit right, the neckline doesn’t slip off, and the sleeves are appropriately tapered.Β  Briar is designed to be a looser, flowy, drapey top, which is what I expected when I made it.Β  Renfrew is the kind of top thatΒ I prefer to be more closely tailored, and it ended up baggy.Β  Hence the difference in my opinions of the two tops πŸ™‚

In keeping with my resolution to reduce and replace my knit tops, these two tops went in the Goodwill bin to make room for Briar:

Creative counselor: Recycling
A very worn and pilled tank top and a low-cut pink top with yellow armpits. Yuck!

Not a bad trade off!

Pattern: Megan Nielsen Briar Top

Creative Counselor: Briar
Another picture. Because I love it so much!

Size: Medium.

Physical pattern: This is a Megan Nielsen pattern, so this category obviously gets top marks from me! Megan Nielsen puts out the best, prettiest paper patterns I have ever had the pleasure of working with. The paper is sturdy and easy to trace, the drawings in the booklet are darling, and I love that she includes a few pages for project notes at the end. Her prices are on the high end for paper patterns, but totally worth it for such a quality pattern.

Modifications: I added twill tape to the shoulder seams to stabilize them so they don’t stretch out with time (a nice little trick I learned from Renfrew). but other than that, None! I made the full-length version with long sleeves and omitted the pockets because they seemed unnecessary. I also opted for the neck binding rather than the band. The binding is a little trickier than the band, but still pretty straightforward. The top fit perfectly straight out of the envelope.

Fit: Ah-mazing! This may be the most flattering t-shirt I’ve ever owned! The sleeves are the perfect length, the collar is flattering but high enough that the girls won’t be making any appearances, and the longer back ensures that I won’t be showing off any waistline gap. Love it!

Fabric: Gray tonal stripe slub baby sweater knit (yikes, that’s a mouthful) from Girl Charlee. This fabric is so heavenly — it’s like butter. Soft and drapey. But even though it’s silky soft, the edges didn’t roll too badly and it was surprisingly easy to work with. The fabric was 63″ wide, so even making the long-sleeved,full-length version, I think I have enough fabric left over to squeak out a second Briar — this time either cropped or short sleeved. Haven’t decided yet!


  • Slimming, very flattering fit.
  • Quick and easy sew. This would be a great pattern for someone just starting to work with knits.
  • Lots of options means you can make a different top every time.
  • The pattern itself is great to work with.


  • Ummm, yeah, I got nothing.
  • Well, it is a pricey pattern ($20 AUD), but worth it in my opinion.

Overall grade: A+ This will undoubtedly become a wardrobe staple for me. I have two other fabrics set aside for more Briar tops. I will make one or two more long-sleeve tops, but also plan to try out a few with short sleeves and cropped!

0 thoughts on “Briar, I’m in love

    1. Briar would be a good first knit project, I think. Very simple construction. And if the curved hems make you nervous you could even square them off for a straight hem and then it would be really simple! Just make sure you ave a ball point needle — makes all the difference!

  1. Katie!! you have totally made my day! I’m so SO happy to hear you loved the Briar pattern so much!! I really wanted it to be that favourite tshirt that just makes you feel awesome when you put it on – and knowing you had that experience with it, is so awesome! And can i just say how touched i am that you tried this pattern even though you initially didn’t think it would work for you – somehow that is just such a huge compliment to me, that you would trust me. You are such a sweetie!

    Thanks so much for sharing your Briar – and seriously, it looks fantastic on you!!! big hugs darling!! XOXO

  2. I love my briars too πŸ˜‰ As I read somewhere recently: “the briar is my Renfrew” meaning that its my favourite basic pattern. Yours looks great.

    1. Thanks! I love Renfrew also, but I do find the loose and flowing silhouette of Briar to be more comfortable and generally flattering. I actually have two more cut out, just waiting for me to find the time to sew them together!

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