Handmade Wardrobe / Inspiration / MN2303 Briar / Sewalongs

Tutorial: Briar top with leather shoulder patch

Briar Variation: Leather Shoulder Patches // Tutorial by the Megan Nielsen Blog

One of the variation ideas I suggest at the end of the Briar instruction booklet, is using the curved patch pocket pattern piece to add leather shoulder patches to your top.

I am so in love with how well this idea turned out! Whenever I wear this top I get so many compliments on it – it’s just too awesome. Even better it’s a really simple extra few steps in your Briar construction.

You’ll just need a little bit of leather to add an awesome pop to your top (that’s right, I totally rhymed that hehe). In fact, you don’t even need to use leather – this would look just as awesome using other non-fray fabrics such as felt, or fleece, or sweatshirt jersey – or even just a contrast jersey. I’ve done this on a tshirt – and also a sweater, and it looks fantastic on both. There is really so much opportunity here!

Click through for the tutorial!!

Follow the Briar instructions as detailed in the pattern for sewing the shoulder seams, and attaching the neckline (band or binding, I used the band for this top – and don’t worry, yours will look better, mine wasn’t pressed yet)

Cut out two leather patches using the curved patch pocket pattern piece. Depending on what size you wear, it may make more sense to cut off the seam allowance for the pattern piece if it won’t fit. For me, I found the standard patch fitted perfectly.

Place your patches over the shoulder seam as above. I placed mine so that the shoulder seam ran through the centre of the patch. Match the straight edge of the patch up with the raw edge of the armhole along the shoulder. You can carefully pin your leather in place.

Another option is to fuse the leather to the top to keep it in place during sewing. I didn’t use that option for this top, but for later versions of shoulder patches I did. It’s very easy, you just need to use some sort of fusible webbing – cut it to size, then put it between the leather and the top. You then iron to fuse it. Do not iron directly on the leather, you want to iron on the inside of the top, and only just enough to fuse it during sewing. I found this really helped with the sewing portion – and if you are feeling in any way nervous about the leather slipping, then this is a good option :)

When you are sewing your patches – just go slowly. That’s the real trick here. Make sure you use a leather needle if you are using leather. You can either use topstitch thread (which is thicker than regular thread, and used mostly on jeans), or you can do as I did, and use the triple stitch function on your machine (if it has one). I searched high and low and couldn’t find neon pink topstitch (ok fine, that’s not really a surprise is it? hehehe), but the triple stitch worked just as well – it takes a little longer, but it provides the same stability and makes the stitches look “thicker” so that they are a detail on the leather.

Now it looks like this :)

Next attach your sleeves as per the flat sleeve method detailed in the Briar instruction booklet

Finish off the rest of the top as per normal! (side seams, hemming & sleeve hem)

And you know, go off and enjoy your new amazingly awesome Briar!

Also wearing:

Top: Megan Nielsen, Briar tshirt (full length, short sleeves, band neckline & leather patches)
Skirt: Megan Nielsen
Shoes: Blowfish
Necklace: Merl Kinzie // Clydes Rebirth 


Don’t forget to tag your creations with #MNbriar and @megannielsenpatterns when sharing on social media, and check out what everyone else is up to!

Don’t have the pattern yet?

Briar & Briar Curve

Order Briar today in sizes 0-20 and Curve sizes 14-30

About Author

Meg is the Founder and Creative Director of Megan Nielsen Patterns, and is constantly dreaming up ideas for new sewing patterns and ways to make your sewing journey more enjoyable! She gets really excited about design details and is always trying to add way too many variations to our patterns.

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11 years ago

love this idea :-) and how cute are your kiddies!

11 years ago


Sarah Hodgson
Sarah Hodgson
11 years ago

I really really want the Briar pattern. I have put it in the cart and gone to Paypal but it keeps saying the total is 20.00 AU. Even when I log into Paypal (which knows my address in Canada), it still doesn’t add shipping. I really want to order this but don’t want to mess the order up by not paying the appropriate shipping.

I love this pattern!

Sarah h
Sarah h
11 years ago
Reply to  Meg

Thanks. I will try again then.

11 years ago

I love elbow patches but I never would have thought to put them on shoulders!

11 years ago

I love that skirt, did you make that yourself?

11 years ago

I love the patches! Isn’t Steam a Seam awesome?!

11 years ago

I love this idea! So cute! Nice outfit altogether!

11 years ago

Hey Meg, would you mind giving some hints for washing with the leather patch/s? I have put a leather pocket on my briar and don’t want to ruin it in the first wash!


[…] navy jersey in my stash and just enough black to make some patches. I used the exact same method that i shared in this tutorial – and BOOM Sophies Briar was […]


[…] merino knit for the long sleeved Briar I want to make. Now I just need to decide if I want to put leather shoulder patches on it, or if i want to keep it slightly simpler (and easier to wash) and just put contrasting knit […]