Nellie Will-Do Merit Badge, Intermediate Level

The adorable, always humorous MBA Jane is my way of honoring our Sisterhood Merit Badge program, now with 6,102 dues-paying members who have earned an amazing number of merit badges so far—8,722 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/Nellie Will-Do Intermediate Level Merit Badge, I was excited to kill two birds with one stone, figuratively speaking, naturally. The first bird: earning a new Merit Badge with my crafty, sewing skillz. The second bird: bulking up my fashionista closet.


Eva Rinaldi Photography via Wikimedia Commons

Now those are two things I can get behind. Can I get an Amen?

I’d been hearing a lot about re-fashion. Like up-cycling, and re-cycling, you might say, but this type of doing good for your planet makes US look good, too. Win, win! How can you, too, earn this badge and look at clothing differently? I’m so glad you asked.

  • At garage sales, thrift shops, or whenever you get some hand-me-downs from your friends, look at the pieces with new eyes. Use your imagination. Do you love the color, but the size is wrong? Maybe the fabric is fabulous, but the shorts are too short? Or the dress is great, except for the outdated Peter Pan collar? Perhaps the blouse has a stain on one sleeve? All is not lost, farmgirls! RE-FASHION!
  • Now that your imagination is sparked, get out the ol’ sewing machine. Start small, like a skirt that’s way too long for your petite stature. Hemming is easy-peasy, lemon-squeasy. What if it’s the opposite problem, though? Shorts that are far too short? They can be saved, chickadee. A ruffle of lace at the bottom, and voila! Denim and lace are uber-adorable together (and totally in fashion this year, too). Don’t stop there with your jeans and lace combo—peekaboo lace patches in holey Levis are the bee’s knees.
  • Once you’ve started to get the hang of it, try something a bit more difficult. Say, a huge dress that was in style 20 years ago (no judgments!). Start by taking it in. Maybe remove the sleeves altogether. Add a chunky belt. Saweet!

Photo by Ricardo peralta solis via Wikimedia Commons

  • Know what you can do with a cable-knit sweater that doesn’t fit? The arms become leg warmers (so cute poking out the top of boots) and the torso part becomes a matching skirt. Didn’t see that one comin’, did ya?
  • A man’s button-up shirt is a timeless lady’s dress. Take in slightly, or simply belt: this one doesn’t even really need sewing!
  • Baggy pajama pants with a favorite pattern can be taken in and tightened to be your very own patterned skinny pants—so in vogue.
  • Boring T-shirts can be jazzed up with a big bow in the back, lace down the sides, or re-fashioned into a halter tank. You can even stencil your favorite quote and have a one-of-a-kind “statement T.”
  • Adding elbow patches in a heart or moon shape is a charming way to add style to a plain, long-sleeve shirt or jacket.
  • Women’s cardigans can easily be transformed into a little girl’s sweater dress, and small ladies’ blouses can be reworked into toddler dresses.

Who knew, am I right? The possibilities are fantastic, and so is the fashion!


  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    I love all of these ideas for re-purposing clothing items. When I see old things, I just see old tired stuff, but then you see the results of those with “new eyes”, it is transformation. You idea of using an old pull over sweater that is too big and making it into leg warmers and a wool skirt is my favorite suggestion. When I was reading about the Women’s Land Army movement in Great Britain and the US, they used to offer these classes on how to repurpose clothing into all sorts of remakes for family members. They also taught mending, darning, and similar skills for keeping the old clothing still usable. It was considered patriotic to repurpose and a big necessity of life with many households living on meager incomes.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *