life and works in progress

Oh em gee this week has been kind of insane. I'm still getting over my cold, and somehow the kiddlings have been more tiring than usual. I also had a super-awesome Friday and Saturday - and all those fun activities probably didn't help! But it was worth it - Tom and I celebrated my birthday (very belatedly, but that's ok) by going out to a life-changing brunch, painting an awesome (but yet unfinished) plate at a pottery place, and watching the Red Sox make an amazing comeback in a game. Also, he surprised me by taking me out to get a bracelet for my birthday, since the last one I had broke. It's getting shortened, so I don't have it yet, but I love it and it's a grown-up piece of jewelery (unlike my baby birthday present, which was a little inexpensive brass necklace with a bunny charm on it).
So - long story short, I haven't gotten very much work done on my many projects! I have cut several of the pieces for my fleece jacket, but haven't started sewing yet. So my jacket is still on my list of works-in-progress, along with my wallet pattern, and my lunch bag. Of course there are also all my little on-going projects like plushies and wallets. I did make a button-decorated hair tie the other night and have been wearing it to work, so that's something! I'll post about it later.



So a few weeks ago, before this blog was born, I discovered the wonders of marble magnets on etsy. I love the "pounce" feature on etsy, as it shows you random things that have just been sold. I was going through it when I saw some super cute glass magnets. They were bright and happy and colorful, and I coveted them. I almost bought them when I realized it might be possible to make some myself. So I searched on google, and found some instructions. Apparently everyone knows how to make these except me.
These pictures show some of the magnets that I've made. I love them, and am planning to give some as gifts in the near future. The flowery ones are actually made from cloth. I got an awesome scrap bag of fabrics at the Strange Folk festival a few weeks ago, and have been finding uses for all these little pretty pieces of cloth. The red, white and black set are made from the paper Target bag in which my photos come. Oddly, it seems there was some bleeding through the paper from the magnets - you can see the little black spots on some of the Target magnets. I'm going to try some different magnets to see if that resolves the problem. This set is for me anyway - I love the colors and the words. Did you know the word "hot" is in the word "photo"?


life update

Hello to all (read: like four) loyal readers.
The pattern for my jacket has arrived, and I am currently puzzling it out - patterns for clothes are somewhat more complicated than patterns for toys. And as we all know, I've never used a real pattern for one of my quilts - so there was nothing to follow!
I've been super exhausted by my job this week (3 year old children can really take it out of you when you're still a little sick), so I'm sorry that content has been somewhat lacking. There will be more, I promise. I have at least one post waiting, just waiting for the time and energy to type it up.


smile quiz

This is completely irrelevant to everything, but I just found this psychology quiz in which you have to determine if smiles are real or fake.
There are 20 videos of people smiling, and I got 17 correct!

more sewing machine news

So I have my evil nemesis back (my sewing machine), and I guess it's working. The stitches are now even, like they ought to be, but the machine seizes sometimes, and all in all I'm still sort of annoyed with it. To be fair, my old machine also seized sometimes, so maybe I should give my newbie a little more credit.
I guess I'm just anxious because I've never used this machine, so I have no idea what its "normal" is like, and how I can expect it to work. I practiced today on some scrap fabric, and got started on one of my old projects. I'm just not ready to try it out on my new projects and new fabrics yet.
Hopefully I'll get used to it soon!


awesome sewing machine news

I just got a call from the technician at the sewing repair shop, and he said that my machine did just need to be oiled, and that I could pick it up tomorrow. Huzzah! I'll swing by and get it before I go to work (they close before I get out of work), and I should be all set to start sewing tomorrow evening.
Now, all I need to do is kick this cold that's been bothering me, and I will be all set.


felt cross paperweight

Adorable, yes? This is another felt creation that was inspired by an item in one of my 'pattern' books, but was not actually cut from a pattern. The cross is full of little plastic pellets, which I also used to fill the gremlins featured in my banner, so it has some weight to it. While more useful than one of my little felt critters, this paperweight still won't really contribute to your household. But it's so fuzzy and pretty that it doesn't much matter.
The back and front are different, as you can see. I haven't decided which is the front, but I definitely prefer the brown side. You can tell which side I did first - one was so much more planned than the other. All the shapes were cut freehand with the exception of the flower, which I'd previously cut out of paper. I'm really pleased with the way this project turned out - it looks handmade, but in an adorable craft-y way rather than in an amateur way. I do wish that the running stitch I used to close the cross looked nicer on the blue side. I'm not sure why those stitches look so much smaller and more uneven.
Making this paperweight was very enjoyable - I've been working on it for a few nights now, but finally had a chance to finish it tonight. It was lovely! We watched the Red Sox play while a giant vat of beef bourguignon simmered in the kitchen, filling the entire apartment with delicious aromas.
That's definitely the way to craft!



Introducing: my new fabrics! The photo was not taken in the sun, as I had hoped, because I spent the day out running errands - including getting the blue fleece that serves as the background. I am going to be making this jacket (the orange one) out of the fleece. I found the pattern online a few days ago, and have been thinking about it ever since. I need some business casual looks to wear to work, but I need them to be comfortable. This jacket looked great, and warm, which will be crucial later in the fall. When I ordered the pattern online (everything is less expensive online), I got a huge discount because I've never ordered from McCall's before. I only had to pay for shipping!
So I needed some fleece, and a local craft store was having a sale that ended today on all fleeces, so I had to rush out and get some. I got an extra yard just in case - I want to lengthen the sleeves, and I've never made an article of clothing before, so having a safety margin is a great comfort. Plus, as I mentioned, it was on sale. If I managed to successfully make this garment, I will have a super inexpensive sweater jacket! I envision having a whole series of this sweater in different colors. I chose this light blue (with Tom's input), because the color is very versatile in my wardrobe. I know fleece isn't the most fashionable fabric, but it works well for playing outside with little children, and I have a huge love for super-soft materials. (Also clothing for my job is difficult - I need to look professional, but I also need clothing that can withstand running around outside, playing, and the occasional addition of paint or dirt). Any extra fabric I have is going to be made into cuddly toys.
The only problem (beside the fact that I've never made clothing before) is that a size four is the smallest size included in the pattern. That might be a teensy bit big on me, so I may have to make some adjustments.
The other fabrics came from an etsy shop (if you are unfamiliar with etsy, go and investigate it right now - I am totally obsessed). There is a fat quarter (equivalent to a fourth of a yard, but cut differently) of each fabric. The rightmost quarter was a dollar (so I had to get it), and the other four came in a pack. I absolutely love the fabric with the hearts, and the fabric with the yellow birds. I cannot wait to use those for some adorable project. I'm not sure what I'll do with the faux-newspaper doggie print. The articles on it are actually kind of hilarious, so it might need to be made into something relatively large.
Now I just need my sewing machine back. I want to sew so badly it hurts!

Sewing Machine Update

A quick update on the status of my sewing machine should help explain the lack of new content - as long as it remains inoperable, I am constrained to hand-sewing, which is much slower.
I took it to the sewing machine place, where a lady who was not terribly interested in my tragic situation took it and the sample of the stitching that I'd thoughtfully brought, and informed me that it probably needed to be oiled. Apparently sitting around in a basement isn't good for a sewing machine. Who knew? Re-oiling the machine will probably be around $65, which is more than I'd like but less than either a new sewing machine (the process of buying a new sewing machine daunts me incredibly) or having my other one shipped to me (because let's be honest, I'm more likely to use it than anyone else). The shop gives free estimates, so in theory, I will be receiving a call soon about what exactly is wrong with the machine. I dropped it off Thursday, but haven't heard back yet. Hopefully I'll get a call soon - it's so hard to sit around surrounded by awesome fabrics and be unable to utilize them!
I'll be posting pictures of said fabrics soon - as soon as I catch some good sunlight.

Tom & Mini-Tom

One of my recent comments reminded me that I have been meaning to post a picture of the mini-Tom (don't worry, I took some photos before I gave him as a gift!). Continuing in my trend of having less-than-stellar pictures, here's Tom and mini-Tom! See the resemblance?
The mini version was designed to be a little moving-away gift to his parents. He's not as good as the real thing, but he is pretty fuzzy. And he eats a lot less.
The mini-Tom project was my first attempt at making creatures out of felt, and you can probably see that I've improved since then. Practice makes perfect etc. This tiny-Tom was actually the third that I made. The first was based on a design of a "kidnapper", who wore a black jumpsuit, and so Tom was dressed all in black. This was all together unacceptable, so I decided to modify the "pattern" (I use this term lightly because my inspiration book doesn't really have patterns, just basic shapes and instructions, so mini-Tom was cut freehand) to make a shirt and pants outfit. The second mini-Tom was ok, but when I looked at it again, I decided it didn't really capture the spirit of the person, so I made a third and final mini-Tom at the very last minute. You may recognize the color scheme - my felt collection hasn't changed much since July. I chose the red felt for his shirt because he has a fair number of red shirts (and let's be honest, I also had matching thread). And the blue pants are supposed to look like jeans. His legs are designed to look super long (to better reflect the Tom himself), and he has little sewn glasses.
Looking back on it now, I think I could make a better mini-Tom today, but he was well-received, and that's what matters. As far as I know, he is now gracing a refrigerator, probably longing to consume all the cheese inside.


Black Bear

In honor of my sister being chased out of an internship by black bears (literally!), I made this little guy. Initially he was going to be a little girl with a red dress, but Tom liked the head so much that I had to switch it up and make the bear a boy with a red shirt and little blue shorts.
The little yellow sign was added later, to add a comforting touch to a bad day.
Unfortunately, our little Assassincat also loves the bear, and seeks to play with it whenever possible. We found him missing the other day, and eventually discovered him under a bookcase. He's a little worse for wear after her enthusiastic attention, but still cute!
I finally got thread that matches most of my felt colors, so I will be able to make such critters with different colored outfits.
My apologies for the poor photos - it's hard to find the right lighting in this apartment! I need to get up earlier and catch the morning light.



It is hard to imagine a real obstacle in the path of making crafty things. You can run out of materials, or the money to purchase more materials. A coffee spill can ruin your best cardstock, or stain your precious fabrics. You can have absolutely no thread that matches your eightybillion colors of felt, as I do. But all of these things are more or less fixable, and they also only stall a project or two at a time.
I have a real problem. And it's name is the Bicor VX-1005. You see, my sewing machine doesn't work. I made the mistake of leaving the machine I was familiar with at home when I moved in favor of the never-opened machine we found in the basement. A machine in a box, with a manual. It seemed like a good idea - easy to move, etc.
No, my friends, it was a massive mistake.
Having never used this machine before I set it up a few nights ago, I was unaware of its tricky threading process, its absolutely useless manual, and its tragic refusal to cooperate.
And this means that I cannot sew. I have been looking forward to sewing, been planning projects, been purchasing supplies, all in anticipation of setting up this machine and getting some work done. And now I am stymied.
Tomorrow I am going to take it to a sewing machine repair shop (such places still exist?), in the hopes that they can tell me what's wrong. It's probably some silly problem that goes back to my ignorance and the manual's uselessness. At least, so I hope! It'd be very sad if there was something actually wrong with the machine, since it's never been used, and I would hate to have to shop for a new sewing machine. Where does one even go to get one?
The absence of a sewing machine caused me to make the little ice cream treats in the previous post, just to satisfy my desire to create. But little felt projects cannot fully replace the feeling of sewing something big and impressive.
Wish me luck - if my machine starts working, you'll be seeing some neat projects around here soon!

I scream, you scream

For ice cream! Here are my two latest creations. The chocolate ice cream bar was made yesterday, and the strawberry was just completed during the end of tonight's Top Design episode.These were not made from any pattern - I cut the shapes freehand. I was inspired to do these little guys when I went to the Strange Folk festival two weekends ago. I saw some stuffed ice cream softies there, and decided I had to try it myself.
I think these could definitely be improved - I'm still a bit new at working with felt (I've made three other felt creatures, a bunny you will never see because it's in Taiwan now, a mini-Tom and a bear). I like the embroidered eyes better than the felt versions.
Tom rather loves these ice cream creatures (better than I do, actually), and sees himself as the chocolate bar and me as the strawberry. This amuses me because Tom's favorite flavor is strawberry, so he ought to be that flavor. But the pink just needed to be a girl. I will be doing a french vanilla version shortly.
If you click on the picture, you can see an enlarged version that will show you all my uneven stitching.


Why hello there!
Welcome to Craft the Pain Away, a blog chronicling the useless yet cute objects made by a bostonian (me!) in exile. Hopefully you'll get a chance to see my work and find information about online and print tutorials and inspirations.
After my graduation this spring, I moved to STL with my beloved yet busy boyfriend, and the copious free time I now have (apparently my classes really did consume my life) means I can return to my love of crafting. Working as a child care assistant in a local Montessori school also inspires me to make adorable things for children, especially my much younger siblings.
I've been making little and not-so-little things my whole life - my wonderful mother infused me with a love of handmade creations. She made quilts and clothes and doll clothes during my childhood, and taught me (sometimes confusingly!) how to make quilts and things for other people. There are a great many things I've made in the past that won't be featured on this blog (what did happen to all those baby quilts?), but the ones I've made this summer and in the future will be shown and discussed.
The name of the blog, if you were wondering, was Tom's clever idea. It's a play on the title of a Peaches song. I'm not going to repeat that title here (it involves a swear word, I'm afraid, and I don't endorse her advice), but the song is especially nostalgic because it's in Lost in Translation, one of my favoritest movies. The movie also relates to my life - the melancholy feeling of being lonely in a foreign city. I have Tom and my kitten, Sassy, so I'm not as bad off as Bill Murray (although he had Scarlett Johannsen, so maybe I'm actually worse off), but having no friends over 3 years of age in a new city is a bit saddening. Hence crafting the pain away!
Don't worry, this blog won't be emo.