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The Mini Briar Top and Mini Virginia Leggings... Times Three

Last week, I had my own personal kids clothes week.  I sewed an hour or so each day in order to crank out three Mini Briar Sweaters and three Mini Virginia Leggings for my girls.  At that time, it felt like I couldn't build up their winter wardrobe fast enough.

Of course this week, our weather was warm again.  The high for today was forecasted at nearly 80 degrees (about 27 degrees C).  But, you won't hear me complaining.  Having spent close to 25 years in the northern Midwest, I've had my fill (and then some) of frigid temperatures, blizzards and sub zero wind chills.  Now I'll take a green and balmy Christmas over a white one any day.  My husband likes to say, "No one has ever hurt their back shoveling sunshine."  :P

Still, we are supposed to have one of the coldest winters ahead since the 90s so I know these sweaters will get plenty of wear.

I had wanted to sew the Mini Briar top the moment I saw Kristin's version here.  A couple of days later, Megan Nielsen emailed me and asked if I would be interested in reviewing any of the patterns in her new children's collection.  The timing was perfect because I reeeally wanted to sew these patterns anyway.  

She was going to mail me the paper patterns but then I found this sweater fabric at JoAnns.   As soon as I got home, I emailed Meg and asked if she could email me the PDF versions instead because I wanted to get right to it.  And she did.  So, yeah, I was excited about these patterns!  ;) 

The fabric is a sweater knit on the front, but backed with fleece.  It's super cozy and my girls don't want to take these sweaters off.  I had planned to only make these tops for Tia and Indigo, but then Iris begged for one, too!

I always sew patterns based on my kids' measurements and never based on their ages or store bought clothing size.  For this pattern, all of my girls measured right around their age in the length but a size down in the chest measurement.  (That's pretty much the norm for them across most, if not all, patterns.)

So I cut each pattern one size larger in length than in width.  Then I cut one size smaller still for the neckline, since I didn't want it to be too scooped.   That means for Tia I cut a size 6/7 in length, 4/5 in width and 2/3 at the neckline.

I love that there are so many options for this pattern.  There are four different versions of the top, and they print separately, too.  So be sure to only print the version you want to sew.  (I may or may not have taped together an entire pattern of the wrong version!)  There are also various elbow patch appliques as well as templates for appliques for the shirt itself.  This is one of those patterns you could sew a lot of times, in so many different ways.

 I wanted the top to be less cropped, so I made the front crop less dramatic.  I also added a few inches in length to the sleeves and skipped the cuffs.

I am used to binding necklines since that is the way I learned to do it using Ottobre patterns.  I spent an embarrassingly long time debating whether I should do the bound method for this top or get out of my comfort zone and try the traditional method.  I decided to try the traditional method and I am so glad I did.  It was so easy and the results are professional looking.

After I made the tops, I decided to try the Virginia leggings as well.  All three of my girls wanted the knee patches and they each wanted a different patch : the ovals for Indigo, hearts for Tia, and kitties for Iris.  Indigo really wanted real leather, but I wasn't up for the possible maintenance involved with that, so instead I chose a tan, heavier weight linen.

Like, the O+S Playtime leggings, this pattern is only one pattern piece, which is convenient and simple and makes for a quick sew.  Again, I cut the pattern one size larger in length than width.  And for all of my girls I could have even added an extra inch or so to that.  So, I left the bottoms unhemmed.  For Indigo's, I decided to add a cuff, in case the leggings ended up shrinking even more in the wash.

I love the look of footless tights and these are similar.  They are very fitted, which I really like.  But I would definitely recommend sewing them with a jersey that has some spandex in the mix to ensure good recovery (meaning that the fabric will bounce back and retain its shape.)  Most of my jerseys in my stash do contain 5% spandex but I unintentionally cut Indigo's from a Handcrafted knit.  It's lovely stuff but doesn't have great recovery and would have been better suited for a top.

I have to admit that I was kind of hoping that not all three girls would want the knee patches.  They take a little bit of time, and I struggled with the placement a bit.  The ovals were clearly marked on the pattern but not the kitties or hearts.  So I found the center of the oval and the center of the other appliques and then placed them there.  Then I created my own template using Swedish tracing paper so I could iron them on in exactly the right place.

But ultimately it was totally worth it and the results were even cuter than I expected.  I don't think the photos  can adequately do those patches justice.  They really are adorable and the kids love them!

I would definitively recommend both of these patterns to the beginner and advanced sew-er alike.  They are both fantastic, with clear instructions and a good fit.  And, best of all, they were a huge hit with each of my three girls.  You can't go wrong with that!

Have a happy weekend!


  1. Cute! Love the dots. The hearts are adorable! And yes I would gladly exchange a white Christmas for a balmy Christmas. :)

  2. So so so so cute! I still can't get over the height differences between the three, especially knowing E and Tia are the same height. O and Iris are probably the same too, did we already compare? Anyway! I'm really glad Megan got in touch with you and you sewed these up; I just love them all! Great fabric picks, adorable sisters. Nicely done.

  3. Oh this is great. I love everyday patterns you make again and again - with a little twist here and there :-) And my girls would for sure request knee patches too :-) Adorable sisters....the love between them is very clear and beautiful!

  4. These look fabulous! I love the patches. Now that I've got a working over locker, I'm looking forward to trying out some loathes for baby girl in the not too distant future.... Building up my courage with sheets and muslin wraps 😄

  5. I love your take on these! I prefer the mini briar longer and less scooped the fit is great over leggings. The knee patches are gorgeous, my daughter always goes through the knees, was going to turn them into shorts but I think I'll add a patch instead this time ♥

  6. Love seeing your girls together :) Their outfits are gorgeous! The knee patches - oh how cute! Definitely worth the effort! I too combine a couple of sizes in one outfit for my girl. When people ask me if such and such pattern is 'true to size' I sincerely have no idea what they are asking! "No one has ever hurt their back shoveling sunshine" should be copyrighted hahaha

  7. Rachel, these are awesome. I adore the colors in the leggings and the sweaters are so cute. I love that polka dotted sweater knit particularly. You are making me want to go out and buy some!

  8. These outfits are adorable! I love the different knee patches -- so worth it! My daughter just saw them and asked if she could have some kitty ones on her leggings. I guess I'll have to give it a try! And those sweater tops look so cozy!

  9. That's a really cute style of top and looks lovely on all the girls. Have a lovely Christmas if we don't 'see' you before then

  10. Great pattern review, Rachel! I"m also so grateful for your specifics, i.e., the ways in which you changed a pattern or made it work for you. These are the exact types of things we sewing moms love to read about before we make our own! And I hope to one day make these as well, having admired them for months in Megan's IG feed. Perhaps the pattern will show up as a Christmas gift:)
    Love the knee patches! Yes, suede or leather ones would have been divine but I understand that practicality must come into play as well:) Curious, by "traditional" neckline application, are you referring to the "quarter mark with pins, stretch and sew" method? I think Ottobre leaves one shoulder unattached, applies the neckline binding, and then completes the shoulder seam, correct? Do you have a preference?
    Thanks for sharing these three lovelies - adorable as always! And enjoy your 80 degree days . . . though I can hardly complain with the mild (to us!) fall we've had!

    1. Hey Lucinda! I wrote a long response to this last night and right at the end Google Chrome quit on me and I lost it all. Then it was time for us to eat dinner. Anyway here I go again. :)

      So, yes, you are exactly right about the 'traditional' method vs the bound method. I believe Megan Nielsen used the term 'traditional' in her pattern which is why I used it. But I only initially pinned at two points - the front center and back center. Then I stretched the ribbing so it was evenly distributed across the neckline and pinned from there.
      When I was brand new to knits, I really liked the Ottobre method, however, I always cut my strips wider than they recommend - I cut 1.5 inches. And I always start on the wrong side and then edgestich on the right side. I find if the binding is too narrow or if I am going from right side to wrong side, it's super frustrating. I think I preferred this method when I didn't have a lot of ribbing options and was creating necklines from jersey.

      Having found some awesome ribbing from the Ottobre shop (but also really any ribbing has worked for me, but Ottobre has great color selection), I do prefer the 'traditional method. It's much faster and simpler and more professionally looking. To get the edgestitching just perfect on the bound method and the stretchy knit fabric folded over perfectly can be quite tricky, if you ask me.

      I only wish there were even more ribbing options available.

  11. I always appreciate your thoughtful, descriptive responses:) so sorry your post last night was lost in cyberspace- that's the worst!😝 I typically use the traditional method as well as my Seeger doesn't do well with lots of layers at the shoulder seam for the bound method. But f haven't been able to find good local sources of ribbing- I must check out Ottobre! Or Etsy. It's always nice to be able to feel/stretch it first. Maybe Joanns will up their ribbing game as they seem to be doing with knits lately!:)

  12. What a gorgeous trio! Like musketeers of cosy cuteness!
    I've got pair of little leggings that need a knee patch. I think they should have two cute ones now! :)
    Good to hear you got some happy neckband mojo going on.

  13. Love all three of these outfits! And those kitty knee patches would be a huge hit around here. I also love the sweater fabrics. I tend to forget about JoAnn because so much of their fabric isn't what I want, but you always find some lovely gems!


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