Tag Archives: The Green Pepper Plush Polar Jacket and Vest #507

Winter Sewing, Part Two: The Green Pepper #507 Polar JACKET in Polartec Fleece

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Winter Sewing, Part Two:  The Green Pepper #507 Polar JACKET in Polartec Fleece

Hi! I’m back with the same pattern I talked about last week, but a different view, in a different fabric. Yep, this is The Green Pepper #507 Plush Polar Jacket in a wonderfully soft Polartec fleece from Field’s Fabrics in Holland, Michigan. Last week was all about the vest view, and this week I’m coming back older and wiser, having had a much more enjoyable sewing experience because I learned from all those pinch points on the vest. Yay!

Winter Sewing, Part Two:  The Green Pepper #507 Polar JACKET in Polartec Fleece
Couldn’t pass up a photo op in front of this fun wall on my first day wearing my jacket out and about!

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Winter Sewing, Part Two:  The Green Pepper #507 Polar JACKET in Polartec Fleece

I’ve felt the need for a lightweight fleece zip-up jacket for awhile. I have one from Old Navy that I thrifted, but have you ever thrifted something and then realized you might now understand why it ended up at the thrift store? Yeah, this was one of those situations. It’s a nice jacket, but the fit in the shoulders is not my favorite. Luckily, I had found some Polartec “Micro Plush” fleece at Field’s Fabrics (often labelled as Malden Mills fleece) in Holland, MI this past summer. It was a pretty sky blue, and so very soft.

Winter Sewing, Part Two:  The Green Pepper #507 Polar JACKET in Polartec Fleece

Technically, I think this is a pile fabric rather than an actual fleece fabric, which is part of what makes it so soft, but either way, it is still produced by Malden Mills/Polartec, which means it has the quality that I love. Polartec produces many, many kinds of really interesting fabrics, and I love trying out different types when I get a chance. While I don’t always care about fabric brands, when it comes to fleece (and related fabrics), I tend to go for Polartec because I know the quality will be high, even in their seconds. And whenever I get a chance to go to Field’s I take a look to see what they have.

Winter Sewing, Part Two:  The Green Pepper #507 Polar JACKET in Polartec Fleece

I don’t typically do the same pattern back to back, but it was a great experience doing that this time because it really helped me improve my skills and figure a few things out! Along with my notes last week on the pattern and the importance of trusting it, one thing I was surprised by is that you don’t always use a zigzag stitch when making this pattern. Sometimes a straight stitch is what you need, and the directions always tell (and/or show) you when to use each stitch. You also don’t use any interfacing–but it works! I was wondering how that would go in the zipper area in particular, but it was fine. The final product is no more or less wavy than on any store-bought fleece jacket–so trust those directions! Along those lines, I had plans to put my sleeves in flat rather than setting them in, but that really doesn’t work for this pattern, because the armscye is shaped differently than what you find on most patterns, so you’ll have to trust the directions on that, too.

Winter Sewing, Part Two:  The Green Pepper #507 Polar JACKET in Polartec Fleece
Green Pepper #507 Plush Polar Jacket in Polartec Micro Plush, front

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Winter Sewing, Part Two:  The Green Pepper #507 Polar JACKET in Polartec Fleece
Green Pepper #507 Plush Polar Jacket in Polartec Micro Plush, back

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Winter Sewing, Part Two:  The Green Pepper #507 Polar JACKET in Polartec Fleece

One thing I did change was binding the sleeve hems as well as the jacket hem with nylon/Lycra, as I did for the vest hem in last week’s post. I cut 9″ x 2″ strips of nylon/Lycra for each sleeve hem and cut off the sleeve hem allowances. If I did it again, I would bind my sleeve hems flat before sewing the sleeve seam. I used the same nylon/Lycra swimwear fabric as on my vest and also used the same binding technique (“Lycra Wrapped Edges–The Cheater’s Way”) found in Adventures with Polarfleece: A Sewing Expedition by Nancy Cornwell. I had a few spots on the jacket hem where I didn’t catch quite enough of the fleece in my serging, so I just went back with a straight stitch and sewed a bit higher up on the jacket. It’s really important that you secure those bottom layers together because the hem is also the bottom of your pockets, and you don’t want your things falling out! This time, I also left a little nylon/Lycra hanging off the edges by the zipper, which I hand-tacked into place before doing the final sewing step.

Winter Sewing, Part Two:  The Green Pepper #507 Polar JACKET in Polartec Fleece
Hem detail, view from the inside. There’s room for improvement, but overall my hem binding isn’t bad!

I did all the hand-basting of the zipper and collar/facing area that I did with my vest, and it was definitely worth the time investment to have a smooth experience sewing in my front zipper and sewing on the neckline facing. My results weren’t perfect, but they were good enough that I was happy with them.

Something I wish I had done with the jacket (and maybe the vest) was to round off the corners of my collar as Nancy Cornwell suggests in her book. I think it would have looked nice.

Winter Sewing, Part Two:  The Green Pepper #507 Polar JACKET in Polartec Fleece

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Winter Sewing, Part Two:  The Green Pepper #507 Polar JACKET in Polartec Fleece
Green Pepper #507 Plush Polar Jacket in Polartec Micro Plush, inside front

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Winter Sewing, Part Two:  The Green Pepper #507 Polar JACKET in Polartec Fleece
Green Pepper #507 Plush Polar Jacket in Polartec Micro Plush, inside back

Other than a different main fabric, I used all the same materials (with color changes for zippers and serger thread) and references for this that I did for my vest. You can find links for all those sources in last week’s post. It was great to have just made a version of this pattern so I could be smarter about when and where to serge–mainly just in the spots where I wanted an extra internal flash of color–and how to tackle all the parts I found tricky the first time around. Like last week, I wish I had some sort of little tag for the front, but otherwise, I’m really happy with this jacket. Since it’s still winter in these parts, I have worn it a lot around the house, and I really love it. I even had to fight off one of my kids who wants to steal it from me, which is a pretty high compliment in my book. 😉

Winter Sewing, Part Two:  The Green Pepper #507 Polar JACKET in Polartec Fleece

I definitely recommend this pattern, but if you haven’t sewn it before, it probably wouldn’t hurt to read the two posts I have written plus any other reviews you can find on it to avoid the pitfalls I struggled with. Really, though, the sky is the limit as far as how you customize this. You can knock off your favorite Patagonia, L.L. Bean, or REI jacket, or make something no one has ever seen before! If you do, I would love to hear about it! 🙂

Winter Sewing, Part Two:  The Green Pepper #507 Polar JACKET in Polartec Fleece

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Winter Sewing: The Green Pepper #507 Plush Polar Vest in Polartec Shearling Fleece

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Winter Sewing:  The Green Pepper #507 Plush Polar Vest in Polartec Shearling Fleece

Do you have a box of old clothes that maybe don’t fit or you don’t wear much any more? Perhaps they’re old favorites or sentimental pieces or just clothing that has stood the test of time and you still have them. I do. It’s filled with the first jeans I ever made, a dress from ninth grade that fit through multiple size changes, pieces of uniforms my Dad wore, and a fleece vest from high school. That fleece vest is from L.L.Bean, and my parents bought it for me when we first moved to Massachusetts. Everyone was wearing L.L.Bean and they didn’t want me to feel like any more of an outsider than I already did. I loved that vest. I felt good when I wore it.

I still have that vest packed away, even though it doesn’t quite fit any more. I love a good vest, and I have several, but none quite like that. I got one on sale a few years ago from a different store, but the fleece was inferior, and it soon pilled and looked…not great. I wanted a replacement in high-quality Polartec fleece.

My brother got me the Green Pepper #507 Plush Polar Jacket & Vest pattern in 2021, and my husband gave me the fleece this past Christmas. It was time to make a new vest, and I was really looking forward to it.

Winter Sewing:  The Green Pepper #507 Plush Polar Vest in Polartec Shearling Fleece

Sadly, I didn’t really enjoy making this. Surprising, right? I love Green Pepper patterns because they allow me to make all the classic outdoor wear I find in places like L.L. Bean, Patagonia, and REI. I love sewing fleece, and I have done it most winters for the past several years. And yet, sewing this was Not Fun.

Winter Sewing:  The Green Pepper #507 Plush Polar Vest in Polartec Shearling Fleece
The Green Pepper Plush Polar Vest, front

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Winter Sewing:  The Green Pepper #507 Plush Polar Vest in Polartec Shearling Fleece
The Green Pepper Plush Polar Vest, back

Problem number one was that I second-guessed the directions. The Green Pepper writes really good directions, and I should have just followed them. That doesn’t mean they can never be improved upon or altered and that the patterns can never be hacked. It just means I should have known better and trusted what was there. Problem number two was that it’s not always easy to sew over bulky and sometimes uneven layers of fleece, even when you have all the right tools. Sometimes you have to try and learn, which means struggle.

This pattern is made to be sewn on your sewing machine, no serger necessary. I really wanted some extra secret colors on the inside, so I serged a few seams that would be visible inside.

Winter Sewing:  The Green Pepper #507 Plush Polar Vest in Polartec Shearling Fleece
The Green Pepper Plush Polar Vest, inside front. The neon yellow/green is my serging and secret extra bit of color.

Sometimes my choices to serge were good (extra colors!), and sometimes I thought I could be smarter than the directions and add in serging, which ended up causing problems later because I had cut off seam allowance I should have left on or something like that. I also had a lot of trouble topstitching over multiple layers, even with my walking foot, as things would slide around. While you usually don’t need wide seam allowances on knits, there were times when I wondered if a 5/8″ seam allowance would have been a good idea because you would have (maybe) had more even layers to sew over.

Winter Sewing:  The Green Pepper #507 Plush Polar Vest in Polartec Shearling Fleece

Here are some things that did help me with this project:

*My walking foot was great. This is a foot you can put on your sewing machine that helps your top and bottom fabrics feed through your machine at the same rate so things aren’t sliding around.

*I used a 12/80 ballpoint needle in my sewing machine.

*I hand-basted my zipper, and I hand-basted my collar seamlines and facing in place before sewing down the facing that covers the neck seam. I sewed it down from the inside on both facing edges.

*I checked out the book Adventures with Polarfleece: A Sewing Expedition by Nancy Cornwell from the library (copyright 1997), which helped me change up the bottom of the vest from a hem/casing to a “Lycra Wrapped Edge” (I used “The Cheater’s Way”). I trimmed off one inch at the bottom of the vest where the hem would have been and used the recommendation in the book of a 2″ x 43″ strip of nylon/spandex for my size to finish the bottom edge. I should not have zigzagged the bottom of the vest before applying the nylon/spandex. It would have been better to skip that and just use the book instructions. After fixing that issue, the bottom looked kind of wavy, but once fully finished, it was fine, especially when wearing it. I hand-tacked the corners of the nylon/spandex to keep them perfectly in place. This book has lots of other great tips as well. I hope to pick up a used copy of it at some point. She also wrote two other books on sewing with polarfleece.

Winter Sewing:  The Green Pepper #507 Plush Polar Vest in Polartec Shearling Fleece
The Green Pepper Plush Polar Vest, inside back

*When I got really frustrated, I put this project in time out until I thought things through and had potential solutions to the problems I was having. Taking a break really helped me calm down and figure things out.

Here are a few more details on supplies and sources I used in case you are thinking of making this for yourself:

+fabric (main): Polartec Thermal Pro: Large Clump Shearling/Small Clump Shearling in “Whisper White” from Mill Yardage; 100% polyester, 68″ wide; could this be a Polartec 300 weight?

Winter Sewing:  The Green Pepper #507 Plush Polar Vest in Polartec Shearling Fleece

+fabric (accent): nylon/spandex tricot matte swimwear fabric in “Pink Lite” from my stash, originally from Spandex by Yard; 80% nylon/20% spandex, 200 GSM, 58″-60″ wide

+zippers: YKK #5 molded plastic zippers (jacket and pocket) from Wawak in “lavender”

Winter Sewing:  The Green Pepper #507 Plush Polar Vest in Polartec Shearling Fleece

+thread: 100% polyester thread for sewing machine and serger (I go back and forth between Gutermann and Coats & Clark, depending on who has the best color for what I’m sewing or what I have in my thread stash)

+hanging loop: grosgrain ribbon from my stash, probably made of polyester or nylon

+size: large; I chose based on my measurements; this fits with a fair amount of positive ease

Winter Sewing:  The Green Pepper #507 Plush Polar Vest in Polartec Shearling Fleece

+wish I had: a cute little tag to go on the outside; I’m trying to come up with a design I like and then maybe I’ll have some made.

After wrestling my way through this, here is what I think. This is a great pattern. There are a lot of possibilities for hacks if you want to change things up, copy high end vests or jackets you see in stores, or create things based on your own designs. If I needed 20 vests and jackets, I would have a lot of fun making different iterations of this with cool details and trying out different things. Since I don’t need 20 vests and jackets, I’ll leave the experiments up to you. Your first try may be a little challenging, but maybe not. Either way, it’s definitely a valuable pattern.

All this learning was not only to benefit this project. After this was done, I made the jacket version of this pattern, which I hope to share with you soon. You’ll be happy to know it went much better, thanks to my struggles here.