Organization and Time Management, Other Home Projects

How to Install a Cabinet Organizer

Free Yourself of a Disorganized Bathroom Vanity

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Updated October 4, 2020.

Pinterest Pin, How to Install a Cabinet Organizer

All right, so I’m feeling fairly accomplished today.  [Note: Post was written last summer.]  I installed a slide out drawer organizer in the vanity of our master bath.  

While visiting my sister this spring she offered us this organizer.  As it turns out, she bought two for under her kitchen sink, but when reversed, the second one just didn’t quite fit on the other side of her cabinet.  Since she had nowhere else to use it, she offered it to us saying that if it didn’t end up working for us to pass it on to someone who could use it.  My sister’s awesome!  Naturally, we took the organizer and thanked her for it because it looked like a good sturdy piece of useful equipment, especially after seeing the one she had already installed. 

Under the sink, vanity cabinet organizer
Cabinet Organizer Freebie

The FREE part for something useful is also good. 

While many might jump at nearly anything that is labeled FREE, I do not normally do so and advise against it if asked.  If an item is free, it must be something I plan on using or will get some satisfaction out of owning.  Otherwise, that thing will just be “taking up space and making our house look messy”.  We don’t need any more of those things around our house.  The free circulars that come in the mail are just like that.  Very seldom do we ever look at them.  Most weeks they go directly in the recycling box because we know we don’t need anything else, or at least anything they are offering.

Back to business.  The summer is ending (remember that my sister gave this to us in the spring…a few months ago) and I am now four months pregnant.  My husband is away for work and I am finally getting to some home organization projects.  I would like to surprise him with some of them complete when he gets back.  I know he has had a busy and tiring work week, the travel adding to it, and I know a tidier home eases my own mind when I return from being away.  I am trying to do the same for him.  

Straightening up can be a really winding task for me (and so can writing I suppose🙄).  I’ll start in the place I intend to, but putting one thing in its proper place can lead me to another room and a different mess.  Once that first item is put away I may get into the pile in the new room, which leads me to another room and another nook that needs rearranging.  There I could find something that takes me back to the original spot and the cycle begins again.  At some point, after picking away at these spots a little each day, everything does get cleaned up.  Then we get in a busy cycle and neglect our systems and repeat the process.

Now, our house is not all that disorganized, but there are some spots that never really got settled after I moved into the house five years ago.  Some of those spaces were shifted around when my husband moved in a year and a half ago as well.  We have certain rooms we live in more and the spare bedrooms and corners are where we put things to store temporarily.  Stuff always gets stirred up, for the better, when Mom and Dad visit in the summer too.  I have already cleaned most of that up though, and the rest is in the basement.  It can wait. 

Pregnancy though, is pushing me to get to some of the lesser used spaces now.  We are going to need those spaces when the baby comes this winter.  One of the rooms has been my sewing room and a guest room.  The other is the loft, which serves as my husband’s office (and library?).  

I started in the sewing room, which will become the nursery.  The cabinet organizer had migrated to this room to be out of the way and it seemed like a perfect time to install it.

Tools needed to install vanity cabinet organizer
Tools needed to install cabinet organizer

I planned to install the organizer under the kitchen sink in our house as my sister did in hers, but the pipes were in just the right position to thwart that plan.  I checked under the sink in the downstairs bathroom vanity, but that vanity is smaller and the organizer wouldn’t fit through the door.  As an afterthought I checked our master bath and hooray! The organizer just clears the door hinges and the drain pipe.  

Mess under the sink
Mess under the sink

We had more under that sink than I remembered and I moved everything out.  Vacuuming cleaned out some dust and the cleaning products stored in one part of the vanity helped me wipe up any remaining mess.

Cleaned up vanity cabinet
Cleaned up vanity cabinet

Following the instructions of the cabinet organizer, I placed the bottom part of the unit in the cabinet in a position where it would clear the door and the drain pipe when sliding in and out of the door.  Then I used a pencil to mark the screw holes.  The screw holes are more of an elliptical shape on this structure so I tried not to mark too far to either end to allow myself some room to adjust the rails for the slides. 

Mark where the screws will go so you can drill pilot holes.
Mark where the screws will go to drill pilot holes.

Once everything looked good I locked a 9/64” bit into the cordless drill and made some pilot holes on my pencil marks.  (For those of you who may not have done any home projects before, a pilot hole is a hole drilled a little smaller than the diameter of the screw that is going to be used.  The hole makes the screw go in more easily.)  The inside of the vanity is dark, so I propped up my phone with the flashlight on to help me see.  Some people hold a small flashlight in their mouths, which works too, but kind of grosses me out.  I don’t like holding pencils or pens in my mouth either.  Who knows where they have been?

Drill bits: This project used a 9/54" bit
Drill bits: This project used a 9/54″ bit
Drilling pilot holes
Hold the drill as vertically as possible.
Pilot holes all drilled out for vanity cabinet organizer
Completed pilot holes

Next, I placed the rails of the organizer over the holes and slid out the drawer to get at the holes with the drill.  Without the screws to hold the rails in they became uneven.  However, since the holes were lined up beforehand, I could slide the second rail back into place when it was time to screw it in.  I began in the back because pulling the drawer all the way out to do the front first would tip the system off balance out of the vanity door and make holding everything in place more difficult.  I decided to use the weight of the organizer to hold itself in place.

I put the screws in the back holes; not as easy a task as it normally would have been due to the need to bend over in a small space with my belly gradually beginning to increase and the drawer of the organizer in the way.  (I am glad I’m doing this now and not in a few months.)  Then, I slid the drawer out…not all the way!  Ugh! The drawer just barely hit the door hinge.  I must have unwittingly bumped the drawer as I screwed in the rear holes.  Trying to problem solve, I loosened the screws in their elliptical slots and tried moving the system over.  Unfortunately, slid all the way to the right, the drawer still did not clear the door hinges.  I had to drill new pilot holes.  

Screw into the pilot holes at the back of the vanity cabinet organizer
Screwing in the back of the rails

I don’t know how I messed this up because I checked before drilling.  Can we blame baby brain?  Oh well, the holes can be puttied and painted, and they’ll hardly be seen.  There are worse things.

Moving on, the second set of pilot holes I made sure to mark in the center of the elliptical holes for maximum wiggle room.  I drilled the holes and they were in the right spot. Phew!  If I had missed again I would have been really angry with myself and possibly let go a few words I would not want the baby exposed to, whether or not the baby can hear or understand them. 🙉 

When drilling I began using an extender and a long screwdriver bit.  The bit kept falling out of the extender after I put a screw in, and the rails being the height they are, I was still unable to reach the holes furthest front straight on because the chuck (where the bit gets held in) hit the rails, preventing me from putting the screw in straight.  

Screw drive guide
Screw drive guide
Extended drill bit setup with magnetic screw drive guide
Final drill bit setup that worked

We have a screw guide extender that is magnetic, and longer, so I switched out the other extender for that and put the screwdriver bit in there.  No more problems.  The organizer drawer is more like a large metal rack, so I was able to fit this longer bit through the spaces and install the last two screws at the front properly.  Yes!  I highly recommend the magnetic screw drive guide.  It is a tool that is useful for so many projects, and a great stocking stuffer for any handy person you know.

Screwing in the front of the slide rails through the basket of the vanity cabinet organizer
Screwing in the front of the slide rails through the basket
Vanity cabinet organizer completely installed
All done!

Time to put everything back in.  Ahem, almost everything.  In the process I found expired products, a couple of near empty bottles I was able to empty and recycle, and a couple of things that really belonged elsewhere.  I took the opportunity to put them where they belong.

Vanity cabinet all organized
Under the sink is organized and everything is more accessible.

By now I was all sweaty from hunching over in the cabinet and glad at the same time to have checked another item off my list. 😄

While this should have been an easy task, it became slightly more complicated than necessary during the process.  Being a little pregnant also added to the difficulty a tad.  Still, anyone can do this, even those who have done NO home improvement projects before.

Next on the list?  Mom and Dad gifted us a small base cabinet to fit in a narrow niche next to the shower and tub so we can have some more storage in the master bath.  Right now the cabinet is awaiting unpackaging and staining in the basement.  Keep an eye out for an update on that project.  We will add it to the juggling routine …eventually!

Until the next project,

Materials used in the post:

Cooking and Food

Marshmallow Peep Cookie Bars

What to Do with Your Leftover Peeps → Cookie Bars!

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Updated August 25, 2020.

Are you a fan of peeps?  Do you prefer them fresh or stale?  I have heard that this is a big debate.  On my end, I can weigh in now that they are not terrible fresh, though I am still not much of a fan.

 Marshmallow Peep Cookie Bar Pinterest Image

For Easter last year we visited my in-laws and there were baskets ready for us with Marshmallow Bunny Peeps inside, among a few other things.  As my mother-in-law did not remember which one of her children was a fan of the candy, and she did not know my preferences yet, we all received them.  

My husband is not really a big fan either, but neither are we fans of waste.  Once we arrived home I had to get creative.  A week later I was looking for something to make for dessert to go with our ice cream and I remembered the s’mores cookie bars I had made at sometime in the past.  Those cookie bars had turned out pretty well, and for all those of you who are impatient and claim to prefer black marshmallows in your s’mores, they were just right.  😉

Peeps are just sugar coated marshmallows, so they would work fine as the marshmallow topping that gets put under the broiler to puff up, like in a toasted s’more.  Admittedly, the first time that I made the s’mores bars they got a little too toasty and I ended up scraping charred sugar off the top.  They still tasted pretty good though.  Now I am that much more experienced in the arena of cooking and baking and time management, so I can do better.

Besides not being a fan of Peeps, neither am I a huge consumer of s’mores.  Summer nights and cooking out on the grill overlay a happy quality on the treat, but I just don’t gravitate to the dessert like I do to ice cream, pie, or a delicious cookie.  I DO, however, really like graham crackers and dark chocolate and thus, decided to make this s’mores bar more of a cookie bar option, with a graham flavored twist.

Like I mentioned before, my husband and I were looking for something to pair with our ice cream and did not want to go out to the store for more ingredients.  Seeing the peeps on the counter, my idea for the s’mores cookie bar sprouted and I went to the cabinets.  Our pantry cabinet had plenty of staples, and in another cabinet was half a bag of Wal-Mart mini semi-sweet chocolate chips, cookie recipe on the back.  A quick internet search provided me with an oven temperature and cooking time.  I was ready to go.

Crushed graham crackers for Marshmallow Peep Cookie Bars
A measuring cup is also a good tool for crushing graham crackers

The original recipe on the chocolate chip bag was for basic chocolate chip cookies.  It called for 2 ¼  cups of flour.  I only used 1 ¼ cups flour and nabbed some graham crackers from the cupboard, which I crushed up in a bowl with the bottom of an 8 ounce mason jar to act as a pestle.  Once pulverized, I measured out a cup of the graham cracker powder to take over for the flour I did not use.  Combine the graham and flour evenly.  

Crushed graham crackers and flour for Peep Cookie Bars
Crushed graham crackers mixed with flour

Beyond that any chocolate chip cookie recipe will work for the first steps of mixing the ingredients.  

Marshmallow Peep Cookie Bar batter mixed
Mix up the batter according to your chocolate chip cookie recipe
Marshmallow Peep Cookie Bar with chocolate chips
Fold in the chocolate chips

The next change is in the baking.  Spread the batter evenly in an 8×8 baking pan.  Bake the cookie bars for about 30-35 minutes at 350ºF.  

Marshmallow Peep Cookie Bar batter in pan ready for baking
Ready to bake

Once the timer goes off you can check for doneness by inserting a toothpick to see if it comes out clean.  If the toothpick is not completely clean, but nearly there, don’t fret.  Your cookie bars need a little more time anyhow.  

Space Peeps evenly in rows across the tops of the bars in your pan and return the cookie bars to bake for about five more minutes.  I was able to fit three rows of five in my 8×8 pan.  When time is up check again with the toothpick for doneness.  This is a little harder to do going through the marshmallow, but doable.

Marshmallow Peep Cookie Bar with the Peeps placed for baking
Add your Peeps

If you would prefer, you can cook the bars until the cookie portion is done and then apply the Peeps.  To finish the bars, put the pan under the broiler for 30 seconds to 1 minutes and watch carefully for burning.  This method will toast the marshmallow a little more if you want more of a golden toasted look and flavor to your Peeps on the top.  

Marshmallow Peep Cookie Bar fully cooked
Uh Oh! They don’t look so cute and cheery now!

Overall, the recipe was rather simple and fairly tasty, but also very sweet.  My graham crackers were cinnamon sugar flavored, so that added to the sweetness of the cookie bars that much more.  Someone with a super sweet tooth would really like these.  Me, I can do without, but it was a good use of the Peeps and the bars did go well with vanilla ice cream.  

That’s the last peep from me.  What about you? Do you think you might try this the next time you have Peeps on hand?  How will you make it your own?  Please share your ideas with the rest of us in the comments.

Sewing Projects

Sewing Envelope Pillows

Color Popping Pillows

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Updated October 4, 2020.

Just over four years ago I checked a big item off of my bucket list and I went to Peru to visit Machu Picchu.  Not only did I get to visit another Spanish-speaking country and see one of the famous world sites I had always wanted to view in person, but I ran a marathon in the Andes to get there.  It was an amazing trip, but a different story, though entirely relevant as you will encounter a bit further on.

In the four years since that trip my life has shifted some, as I met and married my husband.  Actually, we were married exactly two years after the race.  Isn’t it nice how a certain app reminds you of your memories?  While even more recently we had our first child.  So life is a bit different now, entirely for the better.

The old ball and chain (or is that supposed to be me?) and the baby haven’t slowed me down any.  Pregnancy slowed me, though only temporarily.  There are just too many interesting things to do.  The project list continues to grow, and occasionally shrink in small increments.  

Our deck needed to be better utilized.  Actually, it just needed to be utilized.  We have a beautiful space on the back of our house overlooking the river behind it, and we never sit on it.  Thanks to some help from my parents when they were visiting at the beginning of last summer, my husband and I assembled the pieces of our deck sofa.  I had made the cushions last spring and now all it needed was a couple of throw pillows to finish it off.  

I kept my eyes peeled for sales, as I always do, and when Michael’s had a good coupon pop up on the app last spring I purchased a couple of 18” x 18” pillow forms at 20% off.  They already had the best price for the type of item I wanted and the coupon made it better.  

For the pillow itself I thought I would use an envelope style as a zipper didn’t seem necessary.  Still, I wanted to be able to wash the cases.  Thanks to YouTube and other bloggers I found a very good tutorial from Melly Sews.  I basically knew how to sew this type of pillow, but not having made one of this style before, the tutorial helped a lot with the measurements and how much to overlap in the back.  

Back to Peru.  While I was learning all about Incan and Peruvian culture, and practicing my Spanish, and preparing to run through the mountains, and trying all the food that wouldn’t throw my United Statesian stomach for a loop, I had some free time to visit the markets and go back to visit some sites we had been introduced to on our guided tours.  

Cusco was definitely a highlight of the trip.  Historical cities are the best to visit, in my opinion.  The modern mixed with the antique or the ancient, is a fascinating blend and there is so much rich culture.  In Cusco, the Spanish architecture built with the portions of the Incan buildings left behind and reused gives the city a wonderful charm, especially where it sits in the valley between the mountains.  I had such fun walking around, strolling through the old style markets, and chatting in the target language with the local vendors.

At one point I wandered by a small fabric shop on my way back from a small open air market of stalls.  There was a rack of fabric bolts outside and one of them drew my eye immediately.  The bold colors and clean pattern were beautiful and my attention snapped onto them.  

Impulse buying isn’t usually my style, but I have learned that when something so absolutely draws my attention, it is probably one item I will really enjoy.  And hey, I was on vacation.  That’s a good time to treat yourself, right?  I bought two meters of the fabric for 36 Peruvian Soles, which is about $12 in the USA.  What a steal!  Some other visitors from the United States were also marveling at all of the beautifully woven textiles and asked me what I planned to do with the fabric.  At the time I wasn’t sure, “I don’t know.  I’ll make pillows, or a tablecloth, or something.”  Pillows it has turned out to be.

Again, with the tutorial from Melly Sews this was a simple project.  The only real difficulty was with the edges from the weave of the fabric.  I had to be careful because the warp of this textile really wanted to unravel.  

I started by measuring the pillow forms to be sure they were 18” x 18” as the package said.  Since they were, I cut two pieces of fabric at 19” x 44” as instructed in the video (width + 1” x length doubled + 8”).  

Bring out the quilter’s rule and the rotary cutter again.  If you do any amount of sewing, this is a tool to have in your kit.  It’s one of those tools that once you start using it on projects you think, “Oh yeah (with enthusiasm and a hint of swagger)!  Why didn’t I have one of these before?”  Or maybe that’s just me.  A good tool is exciting.  Don’t you think so?

For the next step, I went into hemming the short edges.

This was followed by finding the center and pinning to mark it.  I measured half the length of one side of the pillow, or nine inches, to each side of the center and marked both measurements with pins.  At those measurements I folded the right sides together and pinned.  If your hems do not look even, one of mine did not look quite as good as the other, be sure to fold the better looking one inside first.  That will be the hem that will show when you turn your pillow right side out.

One problem I encountered when I folded my “envelope” for the pillow was that the hemmed edges had narrowed.  Apparently, when I hemmed the ends, the slightly looser or wider weave of the fabric caused it to draw in a little or cinch up.  It did not seem as though it would improve if I ripped the stitches out and started over.  In fact, the same thing happened on all four ends that were hemmed, and it occurred pretty evenly.  To compensate for this I just increased my seam allowance by ¼” on each side.  There was already some extra space for the pillow form when I checked it against the folded pieces, so it worked fine having a ¾” seam allowance.  Now the pillows are just slightly rectangular and there was enough fabric on the edges to sew them together properly.

Once everything was sewn, I turned the pillows right-sides out and stuffed them with the pillow forms, lining up the corners of the forms with the corners of the pillows.  Some fluffing made them ready for the couch.  These pillows are the extra cushion needed either as an added back support or against the arms of our outdoor sofa.  Plus, as planned, they add a cheery pop of color to our neutral outdoor setting! 

What do you think? 

Until the next project,

Woodworking Projects

Build Your Own Outdoor Loveseat

A Place to Put Your Tuckus in the Summer

(That alternate title makes me sound about 80 years old, but who cares?  I like it!)

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Jen Juggles It All is not responsible for any injuries, losses, damages, or otherwise negative outcomes that occur from use of or mimicking of activities on this site.  Continued use of Jen Juggles It All confirms agreement with the prior statement.  More information can be read in the disclosure policy and terms of service.

Updated October 4, 2020.

Though we are generally active people, my husband and I do log a fair amount of couch time.  We enjoy watching movies and TV shows, yes, and we also enjoy the seating to use our laptops and read.  Right now we have a lovely view of the river behind our home through the sliding doors, and just outside those doors is the beautiful deck I built with my parents (pre-husband) when we built the house.  I have had such dreams of eating brunch out there on sunny spring, summer and fall mornings; of reading my book out there on summer vacation in the afternoon shade from the neighbor’s tree; of watching the kayakers paddle up and down the river as I lounge on an early fall evening in the warm breeze.  However, those visions are not quite yet a comfortable reality since we do not have much furniture on said deck.

A few plastic patio chairs came with the cottage that was on the property when I bought it, but those are not enough for the deck of my visions.  I’ve browsed the stores and the internet.  Patio and deck furniture, at least the good kind, is expensive and not always to my liking.  I guess I am picky.  I am sure I have expensive taste, but it is just that I prefer quality.  Quality is costly and rightly so.  Someone spent a lot of time making those items really good, and their time is worth it if the items last a long time.  Furniture is not supposed to be disposable.  

The best pieces are the ones with a story, with some life in them.  Nearly all of the pieces in our home have been passed to us from family members, and that is rather special.  Some of the pieces were made by family members, and that is even better.  Not only that, they were well made, which I greatly appreciate and admire.  

Thus, we come to the project of furnishing the deck.  

My husband and I take our time to complete these projects so that we do the best job possible and save money where we can.  During winter and spring of 2018 I spent a good deal of time looking for the materials to make the cushions for a deck couch.  That is a project in which I go into much greater detail on another post.  You can read about the cushions here.

Having completed the cushions last spring, my husband and I moved onto building the couch.  My goal was to spend afternoons last summer out on the deck taking greater advantage of the view and the breeze.  So we started to plan.  

I get anxious to go ahead and start building, but the planning is definitely important to getting the best, and right, materials; which saves money and time in the long run.  My husband is really good with the details (engineers 😊), so after I sketch out my plan he asks me questions as he sorts through the details.  We collaborate to come up with a blueprint and shopping list.  I always did a pretty good job on my own or with my parents’ help, but my husband and I are an excellent team!  (Sorry, not sorry, for the sappiness.)

Once the shopping list was complete we were ready to go to our area hardware store for lumber and supplies.  On these occasions a small truck would be a useful vehicle to have, but it is not entirely necessary.  Either drop the backseat of the car if the boards are narrow and less than ten feet so they can run up the middle of the car, or put a blanket on the roof to keep from scratching the paint and strap the boards on top.  You should easily be able to find these winching straps at the hardware store too.  They are great, and easy enough to use once you are used to them.  I suggest practice by using the winches at home before going to the store.  Sitting in the parking lot trying to figure it out is no fun.

For this project we elected to use mostly 2x4s, with some 4x4s for the corner posts.  Since the corner posts would be the ones touching the ground, we purchase pressure treated 4x4s.  By ground, I mean the deck, but the ends of those posts would be more exposed even though we planned to use an outdoor stain.  We try to be proactive about the prevention of decay.  In fact, the deck is made of composite and the railings are the special PVC/composite type material.  It cost a lot more, but maintenance is power washing.  To me it was well worth it that we will never have to scrape and paint the deck…ever.

During the planning process I had determined that we did not really need the loveseat to be made completely from 2x4s.  1×4 would be strong enough for the seat and the back with the supports of the frame.  I ripped some scrap 2×4 we had at home to check the sturdiness and the board had no give.  Thus, our next job was to cut all the pieces to size, according to our plans; which included ripping a bunch of 2x4s.  Through this process we found out the blade on our table saw was pretty dull and had to return to the store to purchase a new one.  You may want to check your blade before you make your initial trip for supplies.

Why didn’t we just buy 1x4s at the lumber yard?  The 2x4s are the smallest dimensions available above strapping, unless we wanted to spend more money buying the finished pine.  The 2x4s also have the slightly rounded edges, which makes them safer and more comfortable.  Those being already in place, we would have to spend less time routing and sanding to create the same on the finished pine.

Ripped and cut seat and back pieces
Ripped and cut side pieces

We try to cut all of our pieces to the correct length ahead of time in order to stain all of the sides at once.  It takes a little more planning.  However, the time saved setting up and cleaning up the stain or paint and related supplies adds up later.  What can I say?  We are planners and try to anticipate hurdles we may come up against ahead of time.  It’s the teacher in me.  Though I like to jump in and get started, I do prefer to have a plan.  Plans can always be changed, but having a plan to begin with is generally my preference.

Next we stained allllll the pieces:

Twice!  The first coat looked a little too transparent and unprotected to the elements, so we went at it again.  We used a gray, outdoor stain we already had from re-staining the dock.

You can still see the wood grain after two coats, which I like.  Most of the time I find it a shame to paint wood.  2x4s are not really anything too special to look at, but the combination of them and the stain had a nice effect for our outdoor loveseat.  

Following our plan, some 2x4s were not ripped and were used for the seat frame.  We notched out a corner on each of the four posts of 4x4s for the seat frame to sit inside so the connection would not be a shear one, and so there would be some support under the seat frame.  Just having the seat frame screwed into the corner posts would not have been nearly as sturdy.  You can see one of the notches in a corner post in the photo below.  My husband cut them out with a saber saw and cleaned them up with a chisel.  Our neighbor let us use his drill press with the square chiseling bit (Such a cool tool!) for the same task on our bed headboard and footboard project.  That had made the job so much easier, but he was still away from the winter and we wanted to press onward, so we made due. 

Once all of the pieces had dried thoroughly we dry fit them together and checked the sizing with the couch cushions I had already made.  If you have skipped ahead, you can read about sewing the cushions in an earlier post

Everything fit nicely.  The spacing of the slats was good.  We were ready to assemble.

Once a nice day came around we brought all of our tools and materials out onto the deck and constructed our loveseat out there.  That was the right move since carrying the finished product up the stairs and maneuvering it through the house would have been a pain.  The final piece is also pretty heavy, so we didn’t need to make work harder on ourselves.

Among the materials were the 3” deck screws we purchased for assembly. 

Among the tools were a tape measure, screw guns with the appropriate square bit for the deck screws, and the speed square.  Remember to check your frame for square, so it doesn’t end up crooked with all of your carefully measured and cut pieces not fitting properly.  If you don’t have some sort of square, you can measure the diagonals with your tape measure to see if they match.  It wouldn’t hurt to do that anyway, just to be thorough.  We did.  😉

You might also note the box of sheetrock screws.  By the time we finished putting the frame together we had run out of the deck screws.  I guess I did not calculate that well.  Oops!  My parents happened to be visiting and my dad suggested using sheetrock screws to finish attaching the seat, back, and side slats, if we had any on hand.  They didn’t need to be as strong as the frame; so that’s what we did.  For longevity we would have preferred the deck screws, but on these pieces the screws will be easier to replace if need be.

Also pictured is a bolt.  We used those as spacers for the slats.

A couple of final cuts and late staining were unavoidable.  The last seat slat needed some notches taken out to fit properly.

To cover the ends of the seat slats we finished by nailing a fascia piece of ripped 2×4 with the finish nailer to each end.  We also calculated for the front seat slat to overlap by a margin so we could nail a fascia piece there too, to hide the deck screws and dress it up a bit.

Pictured below are the supports for the back and side slats screwed into the frame with deck screws.

Below is the finished product.  I suppose we could have angled the back to recline a little, but I am quite pleased with how it turned out.  A couple of throw pillows will do the same trick.  Find out about those in another post!  

We plan to putty the screw holes on the arms, but the loveseat is ready for use.  We finished the project for the summer last year, as I had hoped, and I was eager to get some use out of it.  I was able to get in some time, but unfortunately a regional EEE threat limited our shady outdoor hours, and with our little one on the way I had to be extra careful.  

Next up, find an umbrella so we can get even more use out of the space!  Our son loves it out there.  

Might you take on a similar project?  Let me know if you have any questions.  

Until the next project,
– Jen

Sewing Projects

How to Sew Seat Cushions

Sit on It Some More, Jen

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Jen Juggles It All is not responsible for any injuries, losses, damages, or otherwise negative outcomes that occur from use of or mimicking of activities on this site.  Continued use of Jen Juggles It All confirms agreement with the prior statement.  More information can be read in the disclosure policy and terms of service.

Updated August 25, 2020.

Right now the summer days are too hot for my taste and it is difficult to escape the heat.  Our area is built for the colder weather, so for the few weeks each year when it gets really hot, it can be very uncomfortable.  As a general rule, I think that sweating bullets while you are just sitting is wrong.

Thankfully, we live by the water and the breeze off the river often gives us a reprieve.  That is why we built a deck the width of the house out back.  My husband and I are still working on furnishing the deck so that we can enjoy the space fully.  To start, we wanted an outdoor couch to sit on and read, and from which we could enjoy the view.  In an earlier post I explained how good furniture cost more than I wanted to spend, and how I was sure we could build the couch ourselves.  My mom and sister suggested I purchase the seat cushions first, and then build around them.  Since good seat cushions would cost as much as a couch all complete, I decided to make those too.  The process I took to prepare the cushions is explained in the post: How to Make Seat Cushions.

Once the innards of the cushions are prepared, you can move on to creating and sewing the covers.  For help preparing my patterns and steps to make a box cushion I found a video tutorial from  Besides fabric, you will need thread and zippers.  A marking pen is really useful too.  I have tried the chalk pencils, but they are not clear enough.  The disappearing ink pen works better for me.  I also chose a strong upholstery thread for the project in the same color as my Sunbrella fabric.  Individual zippers did not come in sizes long enough for the long seat cushion, but the zipper roll pictured was available in a gray pretty close to the color of the fabric. I found it fairly easy to use and have had enough left over to use on several other projects.

Since the deck is uncovered and the cushions are not meant to be left out in storms, we have to bring them in when it rains.  However, the Sunbrella fabric will help to prevent wear from the sun and prolong the life of the cushions.   Using my Joann Fabrics app, I waited for notifications of sales and was able to get the cut of fabric for 50% off.  That is a huge savings for a quality material.  The color palette outside our house is cool tones, so I chose a light gray that I think was called gull. 

If you have a quilter’s rule, mat, and rotary cutter, those tools will make the next steps easier.  

Following your pattern, mark out the largest pieces on your fabric first.  The width of this bolt was just wide enough to fit the length of my largest piece, including the seam allowance.  Ink from the pen disappears somewhat quickly, so I marked and cut each piece one at a time.  Since I knew the width of the fabric when I purchased the bolt online, and because I calculated how much I would need and planned how to orient the pieces ahead of time, I could mark and cut the pieces in this manner.

Although I really like the durability of this fabric the cut edges were fiddly to work with.  Once cut, the weft would peel out and unravel the edge, so working more carefully became more important.  You may be able to see an example of this in the lower left corner of the photo above.  Pinning two pieces that were meant to go together as soon as they were cut made the fabric a bit less frustrating to work with.

The next step was to cut the edge pieces.  All of the edge pieces could have been combined to make one perimeter piece.  Although the bolt was long enough for that, I decided to cut four separate pieces and have the seams line up on the corners in the front or on the tops, as the case may be.  Looking at our living room couch cushions, I noticed that the zippers ran along one edge and overlapped to the sides a few inches.  This was a great idea as it would make getting the cushions in and out of the cases for possible washings much easier.  When adding the length to the zipper panel, be sure to subtract the additional inches from your side panels. 

Variations like this one are another example of why I often prefer to make something myself.  Pieces in your home will be more unique and special because you made them yourself and they are tailored to yours and your family’s needs.  Plus, the endorphins from the accomplishment is pretty great.

Line up your measured marks and cut out the edge pieces.

Then, measure to length and cut your zippers.  Remember to move the pull tabs off the length you are cutting and leave only the one you need per zipper.  This step will alleviate later frustration that could occur from having to get a pull tab back on a zipper!

As in the video tutorial, I began sewing my zipper panel.  Sewing a zipper or a button hole was something I had always thought would be really complicated until I did another project and my mom showed me how.  I was so surprised at how few steps there were to adding a zipper, and at the same time felt really proud of myself thinking, “Look what I can do!”

Except for that half an inch where the seam ripper went off course that I had to repair later, this came out really well.  As my husband said, “If I didn’t know that [error] was there, I wouldn’t have noticed it.”  

The zipper panels would be hidden within the couch, but I am happy to report that I did even better on the back pillows.  This one was a warm up. 😅

One step I would not have thought of on my own was to open the zipper a little when sewing the box cushion covers.  Once all the right sides are sewn closed, you will not have access to the pull tab unless you have opened the zipper a few inches ahead of time.  MAKE sure you do this.  I was very thankful for the reminder from the tutorial.

Sew together all of the edge panels, end to end.  Then, pin the right sides of the top and bottom panels to the edges and sew.  Remember that if you are doing a zipper panel longer than the longest edge, like I did, that you should not align that panel to the corners.  I found it easier to line up the panel opposite the zipper to the front edges of the top and bottom panels first, since they were the same length.  

Next, check your alignment and begin sewing.  This is a lot of fabric to hold onto at once.  Take your time and go slowly so the cushion cover doesn’t get folded over onto and sewn to itself.  The cover looks pretty good so far:

The photo below shows the zipper panel sewed to the top panel and overlapping the edge as described earlier.

The top panel is attached to the edge panels!  I had to stop and enjoy how this idea was finally coming together.  Seeing the right sides looking all clean was very rewarding.

Pin the bottom panel to the edges and sew the last panel in place.  Remember to open the zipper a few inches first!  

You can really see the fraying edges of the fabric’s weft in the photo below.  Even though my cut with the rotary cutter and quilter’s rule were very straight, this fabric had the tendency to unravel at the edges.  That is probably my only complaint about the material and the entire process.  I have not tested a scrap piece with pinking shears to see if that helped at all.  Once the panels were sewn together I didn’t have any further trouble with the fabric.  The material is excellent when turned right side out. 

Press open the seams with your iron when you are done.  Then turn your cushion cover right side out and stuff the cushion inside.  Repeat the process for the two back cushions.  

Following are some photos of the finished product.  I was and still am super excited with how they turned out.  They almost look professional.  Even more important: they are really comfortable, firm with a little give.

Here you can really see how the zipper overlaps the edge.

Making the cushions myself has been so worth it.  Though we did not have much opportunity to use them last summer (Thanks a lot EEE 😒), we are definitely getting more use out of them this year.  I am certainly glad I made these cushions out of durable materials, as I predict they will get a lot of future use in fort construction and imaginative play as our son grows older.  It is not a use I anticipated when I embarked on the project, but one I look forward to in the coming years that brings back good memories.  

Did you build forts from the couch cushions as a kid?  Do you think you will tackle this project too?  Best of luck if you do!  Contact me if you have any questions.

Check out the post on building the couch to go with these awesome cushions.  📯 (Tooting my own horn.)  You are just one more project away from enhancing your outdoor space.  I look forward to hearing about your renditions.

Until the next project,

Sewing Projects

How to Make Seat Cushions


Sit on It, Jen

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Jen Juggles It All is not responsible for any injuries, losses, damages, or otherwise negative outcomes that occur from use of or mimicking of activities on this site.  Continued use of Jen Juggles It All confirms agreement with the prior statement.  More information can be read in the disclosure policy and terms of service.

Updated August 25, 2020.

Furnishing an outdoor living space can potentially be a majorly expensive project.  To furnish a home with sturdy pieces you love, and that will last, is an expensive endeavor.  Why would an outdoor living space be different?

Although, if you are creative and patient, even though it could still be a little pricey the cost does not have to be exorbitant. Spending a little extra money in the end will be worth it: you will have stronger furniture, that will last you longer, and be exactly what you want.  While spending a little extra you will save money because you will not be paying out each year or two to replace the items, in addition to the money you save by doing the project yourself.

My husband and I would like to spend time out on our deck enjoying the view.  We just need furniture out there to make extended time outside more comfortable.  Beginning with an outdoor couch seemed logical.  This is something we could easily build ourselves.  (They did it on Trading Spaces all the time.  Did anyone else obsessively watch that show?) 

Both my mother and sister advised I purchase the cushions before building the couch so my husband and I could build the couch to the correct dimensions around them.  They also advised I use Sunbrella, or a similar fabric made for the outdoors, to help with the longevity.

Well, I looked around online at offerings at the patio stores and home improvement stores’, and the comments in the low reviews steered me away.  Even for the supposedly “good quality” cushions that cost more, people were saying that the pillows were sunken in after a few uses.  That was disheartening.  Why would I want to spend hundreds of dollars for cushions that would sink in and stay that way?  Perhaps you prefer a softer cushion or mattress, but I like them more firm.  Your muscles have to work harder to keep you comfortable when a seat is too soft.  After sitting for a long time you could end up more tired; as when a mattress is not supportive enough.  (I would love to have a source to cite this information to you, but I heard it over a decade ago and do not remember where.  I do know it must have been a reputable source though, because I would not have held onto the information otherwise.😉)  

Anyhow, I looked for a while for some cushions.  The kind with the Sunbrella or similar fabric cost about $500 for a single seat set and we were aiming for a loveseat.  I think we could have bought a whole loveseat for that $1000 price tag of cushions, but nothing was quite what we were looking for and I was sure we could easily build one for less.  The loveseat probably would not be as fancy, though I figured we could make it sturdier.  

I thought about it a little and determined I could make the cushions too.  I had sewn complicated enough items before, and my mom had sewn replacement cushions for an easy chair in the living room, so why couldn’t I?  There are plenty of tutorials on the internet to help.  A little research and some planning were all that I needed.

The Joann Fabrics store app was helpful too.  Texts came to my phone regularly telling me that a single item was 60% off, or a single cut of fabric was half price.  Using those notifications I bought all of the materials on sale; the foam and the fabric each costing me at most half of the original price.  

Before purchasing the materials, however, I needed a plan.  I based the dimensions for the cushions off those of our indoor couch, which we find very comfortable.  However, I made the height of the back cushions a couple of inches taller to give my husband, with his taller frame, a little more support when he sits.  

My mom added welting (the cord that runs along the edges of cushions) at my request on the cushions for the armchair inside, but that was not the look I wanted for the outdoor loveseat.  Admittedly, welting was more work than I wanted to do on this project too; so for that I was glad it was not the look we were going for outdoors.  

To figure out the amount of materials I needed, a pattern was necessary first.  The internet is such a great resource when you know how to look.  I had an idea of how to go about making a box cushion, and then came across this video tutorial from  The instructions are very clear and helped me to formulate a pattern for my box cushions.  I calculated how many yards of fabric I would need and which notions were necessary.  In the end we decided to use 5” high density foam (more money, but so worth it to have really comfortable cushions), batting (one roll of twin size was more than enough), Sunbrella fabric, zipper, and upholstery thread.  

Also bought on sale

I also bought some foam glue to secure the batting to the foam.  Once I got the spray glue home and read the instructions further, as well as some instructions online, I decided to return that glue.  The toxicity of it frightened me and seemed an unnecessary risk.  To replace that glue I purchased Aleen’s foam glue, which works like the Elmer’s school glue.  A bead of that adhesive along the edges held the batting in place just fine and was a lot healthier to use. 

Most of the winter and spring I waited for the sales to pop up as notifications on my phone, and I slowly made the purchases as they came.  Since I was teaching and it was track season, there was not much time to work on other projects, so it was ok with me that it took a little longer to gather the materials.  Once the local track season began to taper off and I had all of the needed pieces I was able to get to work.  My goal was to have the sofa completed to use in the summer.  

The first step, following the video tutorial was to cut out the foam.  Use your tape measure and a yardstick, or straight edge, to measure and mark the length with a Sharpie or similar writing tool.  Double check the measurement against your plans.  Measure twice and cut once.  You do not want to have to purchase more foam.  

When my parents downsized and cleaned out their house my mom found an electric carving knife in her hope chest.  She asked if I wanted it.  I remember thinking, “When will I ever need that?  I’ll just use a regular knife and not clutter up the kitchen,” and I said, “No thanks.”  Apparently, they are good for cutting foam.  Hindsight is 20/20 😅.  I thought that a reciprocating saw was pretty much the same thing and tried using that.  It worked ok.  I have since found out that my scissors work better and more cleanly and would suggest using those if you do not have one of the knives the tutorial recommends.  

As you may have guessed, my cuts were a little jagged.  I figured I could make up for them with a little extra batting and some squishing into the cushion cases.  Spoiler alert: It worked, but only because the cuts were not horrendous.

The next step was to cut the batting.  For the largest cushion, I chose to line up the foam on the batting, glue along the edges as I wrapped the batting around the largest sections, and cut the excess at the end.  

Begin with the biggest pieces and try to line up the longest edge of the foam with the shortest edge of the batting to get the most you can out of a space.  The goal is to have one large piece leftover instead of a bunch of small pieces.  You will waste less and have more to easily use in a later project.  For example, the long seat cushion will fit vertically on the twin size batting, but may not fit another sized piece of the same width, or the back cushions on the leftover section beside it: 

Not ideal

Now, if you orient the seat cushion horizontally on the batting it also fits, but the amount leftover on the side is not as large and you can fit both sides of the seat cushion on the same length as before, AND one of the long edges in the leftover on the end.  This leaves a larger section intact below and more to work with, creating less waste.  Move pieces around and measure before marking and cutting to get the most out of your materials.

Leftover material is more usable

Squeeze out a bead of glue along the edge. Not too much is needed; the glue is pretty tacky and grips well when you lightly press the batting into it.  

Even with the single large piece of batting, it was important to glue along the edges of each face to make sure the batting stayed in place. 

Once the final edge is glued, cut off the excess batting with some good scissors. I decided not to put any batting along the smallest faces in order to make stuffing the seat cushion into the covers a little easier.  Those ends would be facing into the structure of the couch and the added padding would not be as necessary.

After following the above approach, I chose to use the excess along the sides to cut the pieces for the back cushions and get the most out of my materials. The short edges fit there well.  I glued the edges, lined up the batting, wrapped the batting, and cut the excess.  Continue the process until all of the pieces are covered.  

Be sure to read the instructions on your choice of glue for drying times.  I believe I had to wait a few days before it was fully set.  That is not much of a problem, though, because you have your dimensions and can move on to the sewing!

Since this has gotten rather long, I have written about the sewing in another post.  I hope you are as eager to continue with the project as I was.  

Until then,



Discovering BC Stack

This post contains affiliate links; which means that at no additional cost to you, I will earn a  commission if you purchase a product by clicking through the link.  Thank you in advance!

You may notice over time and posts that I have a certain amount of pride in getting a bargain.  I wouldn’t say I am cheap.  I just get a rush of excitement and adrenaline when I get a good deal.  

Thanks to other bloggers I follow, I have just discovered the program called BC Stack.  The creators, Dan and Rachel, have gathered 65 books/programs/webinars by experts in the creative online workspace for $47…Total.  The hitch is that it is only available for one week.  That week ends this Saturday, July 25, 2020.  

To be fair, I have not yet gotten into the meat of the product, but as it is available for such a short time, I want you to have enough time to decide for yourself.  

I have looked into a number of the online courses and taken several of the free webinars that are often advertised through social media.  These products available in the stack are the paid courses.  Normally they EACH cost at least $47, and many cost up to a couple of hundred.  If you have ever thought about joining the online business force, this may be the best way to invest in yourself inexpensively to begin on that trajectory.

Personally, I have been looking for education in some of the areas the available products cover.  However, there is plenty I am not yet ready to use.  I am thankful that does not matter.  So long as I download or sign into my purchases before September, the majority I get to keep forever, like my notes from any live, meetings in courses I purchase.  

What did I really have to lose beyond $47?  My running shoes cost about twice as much with a fraction of the shelf life.  Graduate courses are generally at least $200 per credit, just to put things in perspective.  

Perhaps this is for you.  Perhaps not.  If you are interested, click here to find out more.  Remember, the program closes on Saturday and then you have to wait for next year’s round.  On the plus side, while the offerings in the stack will change, you’ll have a year to consider.  Best of luck!


Sewing Projects

Sewing Sleeves


Just Sleeves? What About the Rest of the Shirt?

Brownie points if you know which movie inspired the alternate title.

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Jen Juggles It All is not responsible for any injuries, losses, damages, or otherwise negative outcomes that occur from use of or mimicking of activities on this site.  Continued use of Jen Juggles It All confirms agreement with the prior statement.  More information can be read in the disclosure policy and terms of service.

Updated August 25, 2020.  

Many bloggers began blogging as a hobby or a second job to share their hobbies and possibly to make some extra income.  I am no different in that respect.  Likewise, many teachers have second jobs to make some extra income outside of the school day.  

My second, or third job at one point, was born from my pastime of running and love for the sport.  My sister played softball throughout high school and became an umpire to the younger girls while she was still there.  I thought, “Well, I ran track and there were officials for that.  I could do that.”  Thus, I began to search for the path to becoming a track and field official.  

After contacting USATF, the National Association, I was given the contact information for my state association.  I read the rule book, I studied, and I passed the test leading to my admittance.  For the first year I was trained and mentored and worked several high school meets in my area, gradually trying each of the positions.  With all of the events in track and field, and the levels in cross country, there are many different duties and positions for the officials during competitions.  

While there was a good deal of training to undergo at the beginning, we are always learning and practicing to become better.  We are always adding to our “bag of tricks” to make a competition run smoother (pun intended).  My officiating bag gets heavier every season, but I feel more prepared each year as well.

A few years back I started to learn about and be mentored in the position of starting.  I bought the most necessary equipment and eventually began to start local meets.  The starter sets up the fields of runners in local dual meets and generally controls the speed and flow of the running competition, beyond how fast the runners race.  

Once I had at least one track season of starting under my belt I decided I wanted to add to my tool kit.  Several of the experienced starters have a starter sleeve in the orange color of hunters and construction workers laboring near the road.  Orange of that hue is meant to be seen.  My arm holding the starting device needed to be seen better by those timing the race, either other officials, coaches, or volunteers.  When starting the sprints I am 100m to 200m away down or around the track with many athletes milling about.  From my experience timing and judging at the finish line (I’ll wager you had no idea there were so many different jobs in a track meet, because I didn’t when I started.  It’s just not something you pay attention to when you are racing.), the orange sleeve makes it much easier to locate the starter and to know when the race is set to begin.  This is hugely important to having accurate times when the times are taken by hand on stopwatches.

To begin I took a trip to the local fabric store and bought a yard of a synthetic orange fabric in the bright orange color I mentioned before, and a slightly stronger grade of thread in the same color, along with some one inch wide elastic.  I made sure to purchase some stronger materials because I want my gear to last.  It can get beat up a lot in my track bag during the season.  

Materials for sewing a starter sleeve
Materials for sewing the starter sleeve, minus the thread

Also, I chose the synthetic material for its ability to resist water.  Spring track season in our area of the country is generally cool and can have many rainy days.  As long as it’s not pouring and there is no thunder or lightning, the athletes are probably going to compete.  The beginning of April can have some particularly cold and windy days as well, so layers are important.  I made my sleeve larger than a normal shirt sleeve because I will most often be wearing it over several items of clothing, including my official’s jacket.  It is not unusual for me to have six tops on, including my jacket, during these meets as the sun sets in spring time.  Hint if you are a track parent: Wear lots of layers.  It gets windy and cold out there, even at the beginning of June. 

The next step is to make a pattern.  This time I used some of the brown packing paper I had lying around from something we ordered, which I flattened out and pieced together.  I had to doctor my paper a little bit by taking some of the excess from one end and adding it to the bottom for a little more space.  I overlapped the pieces and scotch taped them together.  Pencil writes just fine on matte scotch tape.  (Do they even make the glossy kind anymore?)

DIY sleeve pattern materials
Materials to DIY your sleeve pattern

You could also use a brown paper shopping bag.  Our area supermarkets and stores are exchanging the use of plastic bags for paper ones; the kind we used to cover our textbooks with in grade school before the stretchy book covers became cool.  (My mom would never buy us those anyway because they were a waste of money when we had good paper bags available for free, and both would get equally beat up during the year 😅.  She was right of course, and I always liked designing my book covers.)  

How to cut a brown paper bag:

To cut open the bag, cut down one of the long folds on a corner from the bag opening to the corner of the bag bottom.  Then, cut along all of the folds around the bottom edges of the paper bag.  This cuts the bulky bottom piece out.  When you lay down the remaining bag it should be one large rectangle of paper.  

I suppose another viable alternative could be to use a piece of parchment cooking paper.  Look around your house.  I am sure you have something that could be recycled for a small pattern.

If you have ever followed a pattern for a shirt, dress, or jacket before, even for a doll, you will know that sleeves are not just simple cylinders.  They are more like narrow cones with the tops chopped off.  Your wrist is generally smaller around than your upper arm near the shoulder, so the sleeve will narrow a little as it gets to your wrist.  It’s kind of like the tapering on the barrel of a baseball bat.  Light bulb moment: You could even add some padding to a bat to create a dummy arm if you wanted to test your sleeve there. 

To help myself out I used my seam ripper to take apart a sleeve on a large old t-shirt. 

Old t-shirt to use for pattern making to sew new sleeve
Sleeve from large, old t-shirt with the shoulder seam ripped out

This was an oversized t-shirt, but I still didn’t need my sleeve to be quite so big.  Or so I thought.**  I laid this sleeve out on my paper and got out my measuring tape and list of measurements.

Shoulder and wrist measurements to sew starter sleeve
My starter sleeve measurements

These are the measurements I wanted to fit.  I added a seam allowance of half an inch.  I also needed to add an additional inch to each end for sewing in my elastic cuffs.  To do this I found a tutorial on YouTube with Angela Wolf.  Adding these dimensions made my measurements the following:

  • Upper = 16 ½”
  • Lower = 9”
  • Length = 21”

After figuring this out I used the t-shirt sleeve to help draw the arch for the upper arm on my pattern for the 16 ½” diameter of the upper arm.  I made the lower arm straight, like the t-shirt.  You may notice that I had to tape some extra paper on for my pattern.  Remember to overlap the paper when you tape, it makes the pattern easier to work with.  After that, just use a long straight-edge to connect the upper to the lower arm on either side.  Cut out your pattern.

My finished DIY sleeve pattern
My finished DIY sleeve pattern

Once I cut the pattern out of the paper I wrapped it around my arm to test the fit and noticed that the arch on the upper arm went right up to my shoulder and just crunched down as an extra flap of fabric.  Likewise, there was a small extra flap at my wrist.  I went back and fiddled with the pattern and made the curves concave, so when the sleeve went on my arm it would look like a cylinder; but it isn’t one exactly.

The next step was to pin the pattern to the fabric and cut the fabric.

Sleeve pattern pinned to material for cutting to sleeve pieces for sewing
Sleeve pattern pinned to material
Sleeve pattern pieces all cut
Sleeve material cut from pattern
Sleeve pattern pieces cut for sewing
Sleeve pieces cut from pattern for sewing

This fabric was kind of see through, so I doubled it up for a more opaque look and more potent coloring.  

Having the fabric cut to the pattern, fold the right sides of the fabric together joining the long edges and pin.

Cut sleeve pieces pinned and ready to sew
Sleeve pieces pinned to sew

Leaving the ½” seam allowance, sew the seam where the long edges meet and press open with your iron on a light setting.

Then, cut the elastic to the lengths listed for the upper and lower arms:

  • Upper = 16 ½ “
  • Lower = 9”
Sleeve elastics measured out
Sleeve elastics measured out

Mark a half inch from each end of each elastic.  Line those two markings up and sew them together with a zigzag stitch.  

Sew elastic end to end
Elastics sewn together

As a reminder, I used the instructions from the tutorial on YouTube with Angela Wolf, deciding to sew in the elastic.  If you choose to create an elastic casing, be sure to increase your length measurement to create a seam allowance on each end of your garment.  A ½” should do it, increasing the overall length of the cut of fabric by one whole inch.

To continue, I marked each elastic at quarter intervals as instructed:

Marked elastics for sewing into sleeve cuff and sleeve shoulder
Elastics marked for sewing into sleeve cuff and shoulder

Then I continued with the tutorial, pinning the elastics into the garment, sewing them on, folding the edge over and sewing the other edge of the elastic to the sleeve:

Elastic pinned to sleeve shoulder for sewing
Elastic pinned to sleeve shoulder for sewing
Elastic pinned to sleeve cuff for sewing
Elastic pinned to sleeve cuff
Elastic Sewn into sleeve shoulder
Elastic Sewn into sleeve shoulder
Sleeve cuff pinned to complete sewing
Sleeve cuff pinned to complete sewing
Sleeve shoulder elastic folded and pinned to finish sewing
Sleeve shoulder elastic folded and pinned to finish sewing

Once the elastic was sewn in place I could turn the sleeve right side out and it was ready for wearing.

Completed upper sleeve
Completed upper sleeve
Completed sleeve cuff
Completed sleeve cuff
Completed Starter Sleeve
Completed Starter Sleeve

**What I didn’t think about and discovered when the project was done was that the upper and lower dimensions should have been for the elastic only.  It is the elastic in the cuff that you want to fit to your arm at the smallest comfortable dimensions.  The fabric widths should be larger to accommodate the undergarments and will bunch a little.  I should have added about three more inches to each the upper and lower arm measurements to make them fit more comfortably.  Duh!  (Face palm)

  • Upper = 19”
  • Lower = 12”

When I make a new sleeve I will use the dimensions above for the fabric.  The elastics will remain the same lengths as before.  For now, the one I finished has done its job just fine and the other officials and coaches find it a visible help 😉.  (I like puns, 😏 and obviously emojis too.) 

Do you have an athlete in your life?  If you use a stretchable fabric and more close fitting measurements, some sleeves that match the uniform in color could be helpful for that person during games in late fall and early spring.  Keeping the muscles warm during practice and play is key to keeping your athlete healthy and avoiding injury by pulling cold muscles.  Make sure you check the National Federation of High Schools (NFHS) Rules Book for your athlete’s sport regarding uniforms so that what you make will be legal for play.  (Even better, knowing the rules will also make you a more informed spectator and cheerleader!)  Otherwise, she/he can wear the sleeves during warm-ups, cool downs, and while on the bench.  

Any questions?  Let me know.  I am happy to help.  Please let me know of any upgrades you have tried on this pattern.  Until then, happy sewing and make it your own!

Other Home Projects

Preventing Moldy Ceilings


Paint the Mold Away – An Alternative Workout

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Jen Juggles It All is not responsible for any injuries, losses, damages, or otherwise negative outcomes that occur from use of or mimicking of activities on this site.  Continued use of Jen Juggles It All confirms agreement with the prior statement.  More information can be read in the disclosure policy and terms of service.

Updated August 25, 2020.

During the summer of 2018 we discovered that the basement can get really humid. I suppose that I knew basements could be so, but chose to forget about it with the wedding, honeymoon, etc…

Our house is really well sealed otherwise and as a gift for something or other my parents gave us a new bulkhead for the basement.  When they originally helped me to build the house my dad created the bulkhead door out of plywood and we used an outdoor paint to seal it.  That did not, unfortunately, keep out the rain completely.  It was well built, but not quite enough to withstand the weather, even under the deck.  It began to rot away after being in place for about six years.

As a surprise, we came home from our wedding and Mom, Dad, and my brother had installed a new metal bulkhead before they came up to prepare for the occasion.  After returning from our honeymoon I got some quickset cement to seal the edges to the foundation.  After completing that and using a waterproof paint to coat the bulkhead twice, that area is pretty well sealed.  

Still, some moisture gets into the basement.

Stupidly, ok maybe just not smartly, I kept the basement windows open to let air flow and release some of the humidity.  This summer, my clever husband thought enough to look up how to keep moisture out of the basement finding that keeping the windows closed is better for this task.  Along with the exhaust fan he and my dad installed at the beginning of this summer, the basement remains much drier.  The exhaust fan in one of the windows is also excellent at keeping the dust out of the air in the workshop, which makes working on projects more comfortable.

So why am I talking about moisture?  A couple of summers ago my parents came and did a basement overhaul, building a gym in one corner for the exercise equipment they bequeathed to me when they retired further south.  (As I have mentioned in other posts and my About Me page, my parents are very handy and many projects get started when they come to visit.)  Well, it still gets damp downstairs and the ⅛” plywood we used on the ceiling of the gym seemed to attract the growth of mold.  At first I let it go figuring it would not get too bad and I would clean it up a little later.  Then, it got worse:

The whole ceiling was covered with this growth of a thin, whitish mold; not black mold which is more dangerous and should be removed by professionals.  Carefully checking the underside of the plywood was not affected, I determined the mold to be a surface problem.  After some research, I mixed up a half and half bleach water solution in a spray bottle and covered up.  I had on a respirator mask, old hoodie, baseball cap, shop glasses, pants, rubber gloves and old sneakers.  Every inch of skin was covered, just to be safe.  

Thoroughly covered and sweating bullets because it was August, I sprayed the entire ceiling down with this solution.  Plenty drifted to the floor needing to be wiped up later, too.  Even though that was just another job to do, the floor got sanitized, so…BONUS!

I let the bleach solution sit for a couple of days to dry out the growth, and checked the progress.  Lots of the growth had clearly died and receded, but a few previously large patches remained as smaller ones.  Thus, I suited up again and did a touch up spray to the areas needing more attention.

A couple days later proved this was all that was needed.  Now, a dusty fuzz remained on the ceiling.  Time to suit up once more and vacuum it away with the shop vac.  

Once the ceiling was clean, the room looked and felt better.  My next task was to ensure that the growth would not come back.  Remember, this is before the exhaust fan.  (We may have to get a dehumidifier, but we’re holding off to see if it is absolutely necessary.)  Thanks to my parents’ advice I went to the nearby Lowe’s and found a paint that prevents mold and mildew.  It can be tinted to match the color scheme of whatever room you need to paint, though white worked perfectly fine for me.  

The next step was to prep the room.  Since the Universal Gym was too big to move, that stayed put, but the rest of the exercise equipment was removed and drop cloths were laid on the floor.  I tossed an old sheet over the TV my husband and I had mounted on the wall.  Old sheets and tablecloths make excellent drop cloths, by the way.  

This time I suited up in my old clothes for projects and painting and opened all of the windows to ventilate the space.  The paint kind of smells worse than regular latex/acrylic because of the mold and mildew fighting properties in it, so moving air was more necessary than usual.

With a brush and paint tray I moved the step stool around the room to edge the ceiling, and around the lights.  

After that, I moved on to the roller.  I prefer using a smaller roller when possible because they drip less and give me more control.  Since I was up on stools and ladders, and the room is not that large, the smaller roller did not make the job take much longer than it would have with a larger roller.  Had I been able to find the broom handle we attach to the handle of the larger rollers, allowing me to work from the floor, I might have chosen differently.  Yes, I could have gone out and bought another handle, but I was ready to go and it only would have delayed the job.  I had the necessary supplies, so I began working with what was on hand.

Another benefit of using the smaller roller was that it was lighter and more maneuverable.  This was helpful when trying to go over the Universal Gym.  It also gave my arms a rest when I reloaded the roller brush with paint, and doing all of that overhead work: something to keep in mind if you have to paint a ceiling or overhead space.

About two thirds of the ceiling was painted when I noticed that what I had done was rather thin.  I stirred the paint again, repoured, and repainted a second coat.  The weather was so warm that the first coat was dry enough to go over it right away with another layer.  To finish up, I cleaned up my supplies and swept the floor.  I waited until the following day to move the other equipment back into the room just to make sure the ceiling didn’t need another coat.

At first I wasn’t sure that I liked the white color on the ceiling.  Though, being a basement gym it doesn’t really matter.  The color grew on me, and the room now feels much larger than before.  

We are nearing the end of the second summer with the paint protected ceiling and we have had no repeat issues.  Other things have come up.  They always do with home ownership.  However, the ceiling in the gym is not one of them.

If you have a damp basement that you plan to finish, this might be just the preemptive maneuver you need to make.  Of course, make the decision that is right for you and make it your own.

I hope to see you here again soon!


Cooking and Food

Preparing for Cast-Iron Cooking

It’s In the Seasoning

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Jen Juggles It All is not responsible for any injuries, losses, damages, or otherwise negative outcomes that occur from use of or mimicking of activities on this site.  Continued use of Jen Juggles It All confirms agreement with the prior statement.  More information can be read in the disclosure policy and terms of service.

Updated August 25, 2020.

As with many older relatives, my grandmother had a lot of things in her home we had to go through when she passed away.  When we cleaned out my her house I was told to take what I would like from certain lots of things. I grabbed a cast iron skillet.  The skillet was old, but completely new. It still had the instruction label on it and I think it was from the seventies.  

My grandmother really liked gadgets, especially those for the kitchen.  The cast iron skillet is more of trusty tradition than a gadget, but I am sure it was probably advertised in a gadgety all-in-one way that would be tempting back when it was new.  There was another larger skillet, which appeared very gently used and I took that one as well.  

It was more than a decade ago that I acquired these finds and a year or so into owning them myself I was still living at home with my parents.  Lucky for me, most of my meals were prepared for me as family dinner. At the time I was working, saving money, and preparing to buy a fixer upper.  

At some point I finally got to using the larger skillet, since it was already prepared, and made a cornbread from scratch for my family.  Now, this cornbread recipe was not sweet, like the mixes my mom usually got at the store. However, I did not think about the fact that there was no sweetening agent in the ingredients as I read and prepared the recipe.  Thus, the bread was rather bland and did not get eaten right away.  

I was so cast-iron ignorant that I left the bake in the pan like we usually did with our non-stick bakeware and it sat for too long.  Once I got the bread out and into the garbage, the skillet was a mess and I did not know what to do with it. House-buying and building kicked into high gear, the skillet got rusty and then packed away in a box of my stuff with the unused one…fairly forgotten.

Fast forward, or skip ahead for those born after VHS, about eight years.  The gift shop I used to work in during the summers always has great looking cookbooks.  They are small store that stocks themselves with unique and interesting gifts, many handmade from our region.  In order to sell the merchandise, you have to know the merchandise, so those of us on the sales floor would look at and read about the items when it was quiet and we were not cleaning.  

For a couple of years they carried Cook It in Cast iron by America’s Test Kitchen.  This cookbook enticed me. By that time I had been living on my own for a while and was cooking regularly.  The ingredients all seemed to be ones found in most supermarkets (no funny rare items), and the instructions straightforward.  Not only that, there was a picture for each recipe, so you would have an idea of what the finished product should look like, and they all sure look inviting.  Cue drool.  

I put the cookbook on my wishlist and Mom and Dad, well…Mom, wrapped it up for me for Christmas.  Super excited, I told my boyfriend, now husband, that I planned to cook my way through the book Julie & Julia style, to which he stated with a smirk he was certainly not opposed.  The next step was to find those skillets and get them prepared, or seasoned as I now know the proper term to be thanks to my cookbook.  To Do list task added.

To Do list task…still there.

And still there.

That seasoning task sat in my To Do list for months.  In my defense, I was working full time, driving back and forth eight hours total every other weekend to see my fiancé while we prepared and planned our wedding on our own, until he moved here, so my weeks were rather full.

Finally, school let out for the summer last June, we got married and went on our honeymoon, and I had my first summer off from working since I was about fifteen.  Wow! Aaah! But I, like my father, can’t sit still and took on the To Do list.

One weekend afternoon in August my husband and I came home from some activity and rather than resting like I had intended, I thought, I’ll just get started cleaning up the cast iron skillet.  How long could it take? It was just rusty, but I had the steel wool and paper towels. Maybe a half hour and then I would sit down.  

Hah!  I started in on the scrubbing.  After about ten minutes I had to dump out the residue and continue.  Rust cover my hands and I pushed on. The task took more like four half hours, two hours if you’re not a fan of math, but I couldn’t stop; not when I was making so much progress.  In hindsight, I would have liked to have found some finer steel wool for the finishing stages of the cleaning. The latter part of the scraping step would probably have gone easier if I had that.  I could only find the rougher versions at the stores near us though.  

That said, all the rust eventually came off of both the skillets, and then I finally sat down for the evening.  Seasoning the skillets was a job for another day.

One unseasoned cast iron skillet and one partially seasoned skillet

Cook It In Cast Iron is a great instructional resource.  The chef’s in America’s Test Kitchen put together the cookbook and explain why the different steps are taken in each recipe.  Their explanations help make it easy to apply the skills you practice in other situations in the kitchen. They are also great about explaining how to care for the cast iron skillets and properly season them for the best cooking outcomes.  

It seemed crazy to me at first that I would have to basically cook my skillets for an hour in flaxseed oil, which was not super hard to find, but a little pricier than I would generally expect to pay for oil.  However, as the chefs explained, a good seasoning seals the iron and keeps the food from sticking. If flaxseed oil was going to do that job best, then that’s what I would get. If I am going to do something, I always try to do my best at it, and the flaxseed oil wasn’t exactly breaking the bank.  

Sidenote: My husband and I recently saw a presentation about how flax was produced in colonial times to make linen.  The process for that is a serious amount of work. I can totally appreciate the price now, even if there are mechanized ways to get the product today.

The scent of the hot flaxseed oil is kind of fresh smelling too.  I have grown to like it, and it also takes very little to keep the skillets in great shape after each time they are used.

Everything I have made in the skillets so far has tasted great.  The skillets are straightforward tools that have been in use for a long time.  While fancier gadgets have come into favor for their “ease” of use and clean up, their flashy newness is really one of the few things that have had people put the cast iron to the side (Another being the glass topped stoves).  The care is not that difficult if you are diligent, and the food that can come from it is delicious. Keep an eye out for photos from the recipes I have tried and try them for yourself if they whet your appetite.  

A couple of recipes we have already repeated are indoor barbecued chicken and my husband’s favorite: shepherd’s pie.

Have you used cast iron skillets before?  Please share your thoughts on them in the comments.