Sew Wonderful Merit Badge, Intermediate Level

The adorable, always humorous MBA Jane is my way of honoring our Sisterhood Merit Badge program, now with 6,450 dues-paying members who have earned an amazing number of merit badges so far—9,160 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 Intermediate Level Merit Badge, I knew I had to conquer something. Namely: my phobia of printed fabric other than stripes or plaids.

Why stripes or plaids, you ask? My, so inquisitive. Is it because I have a secret obsession with Scottish prints? Was I a candy striper in another life? A Scottish candy striper, perhaps?

Well, no. I’ll tell you the real reason.

They’re so much easier to sew straight lines on.

For example: I made calico print curtains. They hang at diagonal-type draping (not what I was going for). I sewed a batch of polka-dot printed pillows (they were supposed to be square; let’s call the finished product … umm … hexagon-tangle). I made Mr. Wonderful a homemade button-down shirt (the buttons don’t exactly line up).

I’m a mess when it comes to straight lines. I was afraid to show myself at my monthly Sewing Sisters Club. I was ashamed to walk into JoAnn Fabrics and Crafts. I couldn’t even muster enough self-confidence to rifle through the fabric bolts at my local flea market. Something had to be done. I couldn’t live like this!

So, I did what any self-respecting farmgirl would do in a situation like this: I pretended to be infatuated and passionate only about stripes and plaids.

I had no choice.

Don’t judge me.

Eventually, the siren call of gingham was getting too much to bear.

I couldn’t look away from paisley. I found myself sneaking peeks at geometrics. I made puppy dog eyes at toile. I fell into a small coma at a fabric sale and when I came to, I was petting and cooing over a camouflage bolt.


When I found myself clutching a square of trompe l’oeil at 2 a.m. one night, in a clammy sweat, I knew something had to be done.

I sat myself down with a yard of plain blue fabric, and decided to learn to sew a straight seam, once and for all. I gave myself a stern talking to, a pep talk, if you will. It went something like this, in case you, too, need a blueprint for overcoming your straight line phobia:

“Okay, Jane, my girl. Easy does it. Deep breaths. Just use your handy dandy fabric pencil to mark lightly on your fabric … I said, lightly, woman! For cryin’ in the night. Okay, okay, I’m sorry. You’re doing fine. It’s a bit diagonal, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t straight, does it? Good. Good. Very good. Um, not so good. Alright, time to sew. Now, now, no shaking. Not with a needle in your hand. Very good. Okay, we’re getting somewhere. This isn’t so bad. Steady now, girl. Steady on …

I ended my 12-step program as I end each 12-step program:

With a set of lovely … and straight—well, straight-ish—curtains made of chintz. And a set of throw pillows made of toile.

photo, via

Feeling proud of myself and my new badge, I decided to conquer another fear: my fear of that peach cobbler in my freezer getting freezer burn. Only one way to remedy that.


  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    Hahahaha, this is funny!! How I have struggled with the straight line skill ALL of my sewing life. My Mom would always tell me to pin it carefully and baste before sewing. Add an extra step before sewing? I was way too impatient to do that. Until I did out of desperation at the 5th ripping out. I don’t sew as much these days because of that very fact. Wonky results! Now, I am much better at the peach cobbler dilemma!

  2. Cindi says:

    …”fell into a small coma at a fabric sale…”, hahaha – I know!! Sewing is not something I do easily. I can’t sew a straight line to save my life; we won’t even discuss cutting. Yet I plunge forward boldly only because of my inability to resist all of those beautiful fabrics out there! The girls at the fabric store know they have to guide me gently – I get overwhelmed with the beautiful colors and prints and want to buy it all. Okay, maybe I could pass on the bolt of camouflage… The solution? Well, I really don’t think there is one but it does help to quilt. Oh no, no, I’m not good at that either, BUT.. there is this amazing presser foot that is exactly one-quarter inch – the size of quilt seams. Ahhhh, straight seams. Now if I could just match my corners.

  3. Mary Ann Wilson says:

    So fun!

  4. Karlyne says:

    I call that sew blindness- you know, like snow blindness, where your eyes go crazy watching the snow? Yeah, my eyes go crazy watching the seams. I hear your pain, and I wish I had peach cobbler in the freezer…

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