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Patagonia-Inspired Vest in Insulated Carhartt Canvas and Polartec Fleece

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Patagonia-Inspired Vest in Insulated Carhartt Canvas and Polartec Fleece

My vest is finally done!!! I’m so excited to share it with you!

Patagonia-Inspired Vest in Insulated Carhartt Canvas and Polartec Fleece

This vest began several years ago, when I saw a cool Patagonia outerwear vest with a Western-style yoke in a surprising color combination at Nordstrom. (Nordstrom is a great place to “shop” for inspiration!) While I know that Patagonia is a great company that produces clothes of excellent quality, it is not in my price range. So, I filed away the idea for later and moved on. (Sadly, I can’t find a picture of my inspiration vest in my files, but here are the ones that I looked at while planning this project–women’s, men’s.)

This past summer, while visiting family in Michigan, I went to Field’s Fabrics in Holland, MI, and saw this great Carhartt canvas insulated with Thinsulate.

Patagonia-Inspired Vest in Insulated Carhartt Canvas and Polartec Fleece
It’s funny that the name on the roll is spelled “Carhardt”, but if you look on the website at the link above, you’ll see it’s spelled correctly: “Carhartt”. Just a typo, not a knock-off!

I had seen it at the store on a previous trip, and always wished I had bought some, so this time I did. My initial idea? A winter snap-front skirt to wear over leggings. I love those short, insulated skirts for winter! My Mom looked at the fabric, though, and suggested making a vest. At first I ruled it out, but as I thought more and more about the idea, I realized that it was a good one. I would wear a vest more than a skirt and it would fit me longer if I sized it correctly. And I remembered that Patagonia vest from way back. That’s when I got excited.

Deciding on all the specifics of fabric and pattern and any tweaks I wanted to make took a long time. My fabrics were originally not very cozy (other than the insulated canvas) because I was going purely on colors that worked together, but eventually, with input from my family, I decided to use a beloved piece of wool for my yoke that I have had in my stash for I don’t know how long, just waiting for the right project. At that point, I needed to rethink my lining layer to make everything look good together. I found a cream colored Polartec 200 Thermal Pro curly fleece online at The Rain Shed that was on sale, and looked like it just might work. I ordered it with some pocket zippers and bit the bullet on the insane shipping cost (so expensive!) since the fabric itself was such a good price.

Patagonia-Inspired Vest in Insulated Carhartt Canvas and Polartec Fleece

The fabric was perfection with what I already had, but the hardware wasn’t quite there yet. I ditched my first zipper idea and ordered some metal ones with brass pulls from zipit on Etsy.

Patagonia-Inspired Vest in Insulated Carhartt Canvas and Polartec Fleece

I have used their zippers before, and they are pretty cool looking. Brass heavy duty snaps from Joann Fabrics completed my hardware search.

Patagonia-Inspired Vest in Insulated Carhartt Canvas and Polartec Fleece
If you try these, make sure you get a package with a setting tool (not pictured) if you don’t already have one.

For my pattern, I chose the Men’s Santiam Reversible Vest #102 from The Green Pepper Patterns.

Patagonia-Inspired Vest in Insulated Carhartt Canvas and Polartec Fleece

There is a women’s vest, but I was outside the size range, and it didn’t seem like a big deal to curve out the hips on the men’s one if necessary. Time to get started!

The goal? Create an outerwear vest with the Western yoke of the Patagonia example that would be large and roomy enough to fit over my bulkiest sweater and thickest fleece leggings or jeans. And make it cozy! In order to get the fit I wanted, I followed the pattern’s directions to take measurements over the clothes I wanted to wear the vest with. This put me at a chest and waist size XL, and a hip size 2XL.

To keep this post from getting too long, I’ll list out the tweaks I made to the pattern instead of talking through them. Here’s what I changed:

*created a yoke piece to attach to the outer layer of the vest, front and back

Patagonia-Inspired Vest in Insulated Carhartt Canvas and Polartec Fleece
Patagonia-Inspired Vest in Insulated Carhartt Canvas and Polartec Fleece

*graded the hips out to a larger size, which meant that the side of the handwarmer pockets needed to be reshaped, and the angle of the pocket zippers needed to change to mirror the angle of the hips

Patagonia-Inspired Vest in Insulated Carhartt Canvas and Polartec Fleece
The original pattern piece is in green marker; my alterations are in pencil

*created a longer back hem that curved down by tracing a vintage Woolrich puffer vest; this is also a feature on the Patagonia vests I linked to

Patagonia-Inspired Vest in Insulated Carhartt Canvas and Polartec Fleece
You can see the longer back extending down in this picture
Patagonia-Inspired Vest in Insulated Carhartt Canvas and Polartec Fleece
The vest from the back, fleece side out

*created a pattern piece for wool strips that would attach to the fleece; I planned to fuse interfacing to the wool strips, hoping that this would be a more stable option for the snaps to attach to rather than the fleece (I previously made a fleece cardigan using sew-in interfacing, and a few of the anorak snaps I used as closures pulled away from my fleece–I was hoping to prevent that here)

Patagonia-Inspired Vest in Insulated Carhartt Canvas and Polartec Fleece

*stay-stitched the yoke so nothing would stretch out

*flipped the directions so that my inner layer would have zipper pockets and my outer layer would have hand warmer pockets

Patagonia-Inspired Vest in Insulated Carhartt Canvas and Polartec Fleece
Zipper pockets; I gave the fleece around the zippers a tiny trim before calling it good
Patagonia-Inspired Vest in Insulated Carhartt Canvas and Polartec Fleece
Handwarmer pockets

*used leftover woven Supplex from this project for my zipper pockets and half of my handwarmer pockets rather than the canvas and fleece to reduce bulk

Patagonia-Inspired Vest in Insulated Carhartt Canvas and Polartec Fleece
Patagonia-Inspired Vest in Insulated Carhartt Canvas and Polartec Fleece

By the time I had decided on all these little details, I started to get nervous that I was going to forget something! I had already forgotten that the seam allowance on this pattern was 3/8″, and ended up creating the pattern for my wool strips with one side having a 3/8″ seam allowance and the other one having a 5/8″ seam allowance.

Before beginning anything, though, I had to prewash all my fabric, which included that insulated canvas. The canvas is quilted to a batting layer which has a scrim, but no additional fabric.

Patagonia-Inspired Vest in Insulated Carhartt Canvas and Polartec Fleece
Canvas, batting, and scrim, all quilted together; the scrim is a thin layer over the batting that helps stabilize and hold everything together

I didn’t want it to get messed up in the washer, so I basted an old sheet onto the back side, put a few safety pins in the middle to sort of pin-baste it, and threw it in the washer. Luckily, it worked! I just seam-ripped the sheet off after it was all done and saved it for another purpose.

Once I was ready to cut everything out…I had to stop. Just before cutting I realized (thankfully) that the brick quilting pattern on the canvas needed to be lined up as much as possible so the horizontal lines matched! I got things as close as I could. The quilting wasn’t always possible to line up perfectly, whether because of shrinkage from prewashing or because it wasn’t exact. I got it done, though, and then it was on to the Polartec fleece–but wait! This had a nap, which means it’s a directional fabric–you want the fleece to all lie in the proper direction! Back through the cobwebs of my memory floated the time I had accidentally cut curly fleece upside down for a sweatshirt project and had to recut it. Didn’t want to do that again! Ok. Fleece all cut out, it was on to the yoke. But I wanted that on the bias since it would look nice that way and–oh! The shoulders needed to be pattern matched!

Patagonia-Inspired Vest in Insulated Carhartt Canvas and Polartec Fleece
Decent pattern matching on the shoulder seam!

It was crazy. Every time I thought something would be straightforward, it wasn’t, but nevertheless, I’m so very thankful I realized those things before I cut all the layers out.

I think it’s fair to say I procrastinated a lot on this project. Any time I knew I would have to do something tricky or scary, I paused, but eventually I would forge ahead, hoping it would turn out all right. And luckily, it did. The pattern instructions were very good, and the vest was really interesting to sew. I used my regular sewing machine for construction and my serger for finishing seams, although you don’t need one. The instructions tell you to finish your seams with a zigzag stitch.

I completed this just in time for some really cold weather that came our way. And I love it!

Patagonia-Inspired Vest in Insulated Carhartt Canvas and Polartec Fleece
Patagonia-Inspired Vest in Insulated Carhartt Canvas and Polartec Fleece

Now don’t be fooled–this vest is a massive beast of winter. This is no lightweight indoor vest. It’s big and a little bit heavy, though not uncomfortably so.

Patagonia-Inspired Vest in Insulated Carhartt Canvas and Polartec Fleece
Patagonia-Inspired Vest in Insulated Carhartt Canvas and Polartec Fleece
Patagonia-Inspired Vest in Insulated Carhartt Canvas and Polartec Fleece

It has plenty of extra ease to go over my biggest sweater (just like I hoped!), and it’s so nice and warm. That collar can really keep out the wind, too!

Patagonia-Inspired Vest in Insulated Carhartt Canvas and Polartec Fleece
Patagonia-Inspired Vest in Insulated Carhartt Canvas and Polartec Fleece

Happily, it’s just what I wanted, and all the design and hardware choices really combined to make it look professional and rugged. And it’s reversible! Even the snaps!

Patagonia-Inspired Vest in Insulated Carhartt Canvas and Polartec Fleece
Patagonia-Inspired Vest in Insulated Carhartt Canvas and Polartec Fleece

Both the pattern and the snap pack mentioned that you can use the decorative snap caps on both sides to make your project reversible, so I tried it and it worked! Success!

Now I have one more unique garment that fits me just right for winter. Yay!

Update:

I entered this vest in the 2022 Topsfield Fair (in Topsfield, MA) and it won both a first place ribbon and Best in Show in the Sewing Division!

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Want a Patagonia-Style Fleece Pullover? Try the Green Pepper F722 Polar Pullover in Polartec

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Want a Patagonia-Style Fleece Pullover?  Try the Green Pepper F722 Polar Pullover in Polartec

If you sew, what drives you to make a particular project?  Maybe sometimes it’s wanting your own version of something you saw another person make.  Maybe you can create a designer-inspired piece for an affordable price.  Maybe you love construction and couture details.  For me, I often want to see what it would be like to make something.  I find this to be the case in both cooking and sewing.  I may only make the food or article of clothing once, but I want to know how it’s made and what it takes to make it.

That’s what happened when I was contemplating some patterns by The Green Pepper at Joann Fabrics one day.  I had never tried any of these patterns, but I noticed one that was for a fleece jacket like the ones at L.L. Bean.  The pattern in the store may have been a zip-up version, and I was interested in the classic pullover style, but it got me thinking.  This style has been around for decades and is probably more well-known from Patagonia, an early adopter of fleece fabric in garments.  (In fact, this pullover at Patagonia looks amazingly similar to what I ended up making.)  I found The Green Pepper F722, Polar Pullover and Vest on Etsy.  There is a similar style on The Green Pepper website, number 512.  It looks like an older pattern (copyright 1999) and is a slightly different version with a different finish for the sleeves and collar and only one pocket flap option.  My pattern has a copyright date of 2013 on the envelope.

The Green Pepper F722 Polar Pullover

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The Green Pepper F722 Polar Pullover

For fabric, I hit the jackpot at Fashion Fabrics Club.  This website can be a little overwhelming, because there is just so much, but looking at the fabric on a screen bigger than a phone helps.  I found Polartec Double Sided Curly Fleece in Sour Lemon

The Green Pepper F722 Polar Pullover

as well as woven Supplex in Dark Turquoise (which I thought was nylon, but the website says is cotton), and a stretchy nylon/spandex Creamy Pink Jersey Knit (no longer available) for my inner neck edging.  I chose colors I liked together on my computer, and ordered them, hoping they would work in real life.  Shipping took awhile, but when I finally got everything, I was thrilled.  The colors were great together!  Other odds and ends came either from my stash or Joann’s, with the exception of my snaps.  The pattern calls for heavy duty snaps, and I, being a snap novice, didn’t really know what that meant.  So, I went looking for snaps in the color I wanted, rather than worrying about what “heavy duty” meant.  I found Snap Source pastel pink size 16 snaps at Wawak, which I thought looked most like what I was seeing online at Patagonia and L.L. Bean.

The Green Pepper F722 Polar Pullover

This is a unisex pattern with all available sizes in one envelope, and according to my measurements, I was a medium in the chest and waist and a large in the hip, so that’s what I traced.  I opted for the pullover with the collar and rounded chest pocket, but you can also choose a vest, hood, or pointed pocket.

The Green Pepper F722 Polar Pullover

As soon as I took the pattern instructions out of the envelope and started reading them, I could see that a lot of time, thought, and care had gone into making these directions.  There is a lot of information to help you before you begin, which is great.  My favorite part, though, was all the detail that was put into the construction directions.  This pattern doesn’t assume you have a serger, and gives clear, thorough instruction, including which direction to sew your seams, when to use a straight stitch and when to zigzag (something not all knit patterns have), and lots of small details that will give you a professional finish.  I was only a few steps in before I felt like I could trust this pattern.

The Green Pepper F722 Polar Pullover

I made sure to use a walking foot, a jersey/ballpoint needle, and a lighter presser foot pressure, except for the neck facing, where I changed to a stretch needle after some trial and error.  I was surprised that a lot of my seams were sewn with a straight stitch and finished with a zigzag, which also served to flatten out the seam allowances.

The Green Pepper F722 Polar Pullover

One slight issue I had on the front placket was in section J, step 1, where it said the placket should extend half an inch above the top of the jacket.  That wasn’t the case on my jacket—it’s possible that I made an error, but after measuring the pattern pieces to be sure, I think the error is in the pattern.  I went back and recut the placket, making it 3/8″ longer.  This error seems to be on all sizes.

The Green Pepper F722 Polar Pullover

One other issue I had, which was my fault occurred while installing the snaps.  I was trying to use prong snaps, when the pattern had called for heavy duty snaps, which are larger and have a post.  I got the top side of my snaps in, but couldn’t get the bottoms in.  I bought some heavy duty snaps and did some tests on scrap fabric to confirm that they would work (they did), but I really wanted pink snaps.  After going down a major rabbit hole where I started researching powder coating and other types of paint, and calling people who repair outdoor gear (Boulder Mountain Repair and Specialty Outdoors were kind enough to talk to me and point me in some helpful directions), I finally visited L.L. Bean to do a little sleuthing.  It looks like they are using colored plastic snaps, about the size of my original pink snaps, but they had trimmed all the bulk out of their facings, whereas mine had (in some places) two layers of fleece and four layers of Supplex.  My husband had suggested that I trim this area before I went on my snap saga, but I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to make it work until I felt the facings on the L.L. Bean sweatshirts.  So, I went home and opened up the facing, trimming down the bulk in the bottom facing, after which I had no problem installing the bottom of my snaps.  Consider me older and wiser now—I will do this on both parts of the facing next time, which will give me a ton of color options for snaps, thanks to Snap Source.

The Green Pepper F722 Polar Pullover

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The Green Pepper F722 Polar Pullover

Snap saga aside, this pattern was a joy to sew and VERY interesting.  I got really professional results and a brightly colored sweatshirt I can wear during this cool and cloudy spring.  The pockets are a major bonus, including the chest pocket!

The Green Pepper F722 Polar Pullover

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The Green Pepper F722 Polar Pullover

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The Green Pepper F722 Polar Pullover

There’s even a little hanging tab.

The Green Pepper F722 Polar Pullover

It’s warm and cozy, and it’s very encouraging that I can find professional materials.  It was hard to find heavy-duty snaps in all the colors of the rainbow (although some colors are available), but trimming down the fleece in the facing gives you more options.  I think final cost for this sweatshirt was under $35, which is great, considering that many of these sweatshirts in the store are in the $70–$120 range.

The Green Pepper F722 Polar Pullover

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The Green Pepper F722 Polar Pullover

If I were to make this again, some things that would be fun to try are swapping out the elastic in the casings at hip (pictured below) and wrist

The Green Pepper F722 Polar Pullover

for a stretchy binding on cuffs, hem, and top of collar, as well as trying the pointy pocket, possibly in a double layer of Supplex instead of fleece.  It would be fun to order some of my own labels and sew one to the front as well (if only I could decide what to put on them!).  And I’d love to try out some Polartec WindPro so the wind couldn’t blow through.  I’m not sure how many of these sweatshirts I need, but this was really nice to sew.  Since The Green Pepper also has a zip-front pattern (number 507), maybe that would be a good one to try too.  If this is a style you like, I highly recommend this pattern.

The Green Pepper F722 Polar Pullover