Merit Badge: Sew Wonderful, Beginner Level

The adorable, always humorous MBA Jane is my way of honoring our Sisterhood Merit Badge program, now with 6,346 dues-paying members who have earned an amazing number of merit badges so far—9,010 total! Take it away, MBA Jane!!! MJ 

Wondering who I am? I’m Merit Badge Awardee Jane (MBA Jane for short). In my former life   

For this week’s Stitching and Crafting/Sew Wonderful Beginner Level Merit Badge, I took advantage of the fact that I had been a human pincushion one too many times this month.


I know, you’re not following. Perhaps that’s because you’ve never spilled an entire collection of straight pins into your entire collection of fabric?

Well, count yourselves lucky, my chickadees, because, well, darn it, I don’t recommend it. Ouch. There’s another one.

Sucking on my poor, Swiss-cheese fingers, and determining never to attempt acupuncture—at least not without a professional—I made up my mind to do something about this awful situation, and why not earn a badge? Seemed sensible. Yowch.

Time out to find the homemade first-aid kit …

All right, I’m back and more determined than ever. (And wearing thimbles on all 10 extremities).

I sorted through my bolts and squares and stacks of calico, gingham, toile, corduroy, denim, satin, flannel, and the like. In order to earn my Beginner Level Badge, I needed to make a sewing kit, complete with pinkeeper, to give to a friend.

You know what they say: Be your own best friend.

What? No one says that? That isn’t a quote? And I was going to embroider it on a pillow.

Well, fine, I’ll simply make two, because I have the puncture wounds to prove I need a little organization as well. Ow.

I decided there was no need to shop to earn this badge. Not with all the lovely things I have lying about my home. Upcycling is the name of game with this farmgirl these days. Why, I hardly remember what the siren call of the mall sounds like, now that I’ve turned over a new (organic) leaf. (Okay, okay, I do occasionally answer the siren call of the Pretzel Palace, which is inside the mall, but hey … I’m only human).

I found two sweet baskets left over from my basketry-making season, and they were a perfect fit for the following:

  • A few adorable fabric squares (perfect for quilting)
  • Several different shades of threads, both for machines and for hand embroidery
  • Straight pins (since evidently I own approximately eleventy-seven thousand)
  • Safety pins (oh, how I love them … and am considering switching to them for all my pinning needs)
  • A handful of buttons
  • A fabric pen
  • A small embroidery hoop
  • Scissors

To top it all off, I put together two rather charming pincushions. One is the old-fashioned, stuffed-strawberry type. You know the one: made of red felt and stuffed plump, it’s extra endearing with the white-tipped pins. The other, I got fancier with: it’s a blue satin dolphin. Well, it was supposed to be a blue satin dolphin, but it turned out more like a cheerful and overfed flounder. Either way, it’s cute. Until I started poking him with pins, and then I felt terrible. Like a flounder killer. I should have stayed with strawberries.

Leave a comment 10 Comments

  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    These are the cutest ideas for practical pincushions, and I love the idea of the sewing kit inside the old sifter. What a terrific idea and full of Farmgirl genius while having all of the needed parts for a basic kit. I am thinking these would make perfect little gifts for young girls going off to college too. I have a nice who graduates soon and I think I might just add a cute pincushion to the card and money.

  2. Cindi says:

    I swear you are teaching me to think out of the box more than any other person alive! (I really dislike that phrase, but it works.) Such excellent examples! Plus, I am really impressed that you have enough thimbles for all 10 fingers 🙂 Thank you for enduring the poke-a-thon phase in order to give the rest of us such a wonderful idea! and badge.

    • MaryJane says:

      These days I’m working with my grandgirls regarding the poke-a-thon thing. They hate getting poked but they also don’t like wearing thimbles it seems. Just need to get better at it I keep telling them.

  3. Sara Knight says:

    Like Winnie I really like the pin cushion in shifter and I just happen to have one. I will add it to my to-do list.

    Hint on picking up straight pins. I use my canning lid lifter-upper-out-of-hot water thingy. Great for getting to those pins that hide in my upholstered rocker or on the floor.

    Any old magnet will work.

  4. hi MaryJane,
    got your cute card and chick pic, thanks.

    I love sewing ” notions” as they used to call them way back when, here in Amishland we still have dry goods stores with a ntions dept. that sell a little bundles of safety pins for 39 cents , and the old time seam rippers ( lordy I couldnt sew without one) and buttons galore. And tons of straight pins too coz the old order Amish won’t use safety pins or buttons on clothing.
    If a piece of clothing isn’t redeemable for quilt making or to make something ” crafty” from I always at least cut off the buttons and save them.
    MY mothe. a master seamstress and tailor always said the cheap buttons make the clothing look cheap and she would always replace her buttons with fancy ones- voila instant chic. The old order Amish and Mennonites made up pin cushions as small gifts, and get this they often a lucky real wishbone into the design. You dont often see new ones made with them.

  5. Karlyne says:

    “a flounder killer”- cracked me up, but I think I’ll stick (haha-pun intended) with inanimate fabric, too!

  6. Bonnie ellis says:

    Those pin keeps are just adorable. I wonder if we farmgirl’s put our heads together what clever pin keeps we could create. Maybe we should do that project as a badge.

  7. Julie L Hoice says:

    Love these, so vintage and reminds me of my grandmother Martha teaching me to sew as a child. Back then, in the 60s we made pincushions as gifts for our teachers out of Large Duck Eggs and embelished with velvet ribbon. But yours are so much more my taste! What filing do you use for the pin cushion, my old tomato one is probably sawdust and sand? Suggestions?

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