Are Subscription Boxes Worth It?

Contributed by Sarah Yuhr, Sew Much Charm

Since the world went a bit crazy, everyone has had to become as flexible as humanly possible and still some of us are still losing our minds.  Quilting and sewing has become a form of therapy for myself and many others now more than ever. 

Since the shutdowns started in 2020, quilters are rocking out UFOs and other awesome projects.  The once world famous stashes we had are now depleting…and all of the new quilters are still searching for fabrics they can call their own to build their own famous fabric stash.  Since 2020, there are few more million quilters in the world.  A vendor of mine told me that his statistics showed approximately 7 million more people have added quilting to their hobby list since the lockdowns/shutdowns started in March of 2020.  That’s a lot of fabric.

It reminds me of when I started quilting…I would start a project so excited and then find that I really need a different (or another) fabric or thread color to complete the project the way I wanted it to be.  It’s so hard for some people to be able to find amazing fabrics and have them in their stash ready to go.  This was me.  I was constantly having to stop — and stop the flow of creativity — to wait until I could go to the quilt shop to get the supplies I needed to complete my project.

It became even more important for me when I had Bailey, my now four year old.  After Bailey, I had severe post-partum depression and needed that creative outlet to feel a sense of accomplishment in a crazy day with a newborn.  I needed that creative outlet more than ever.

This is when I searched for a solution that helped me – as a new mom who wasn’t ready to tackle the world with shopping in person again yet.  Bailey was not the easiest baby to take into stores – so I avoided it.  Quilting was my moment of sanity.  I could make a block while she napped and if nothing else got done – I could feel like I accomplished something and my day wouldn’t be near as sad as if I had not worked on my quilting project.

This started my search into options for having great fabrics mailed directly to me.  I checked out a few subscription boxes and I found that they didn’t offer what I needed.  I needed a subscription box with thread in a variety of colors so I could grow my fabrics and my thread stash.  The ones I did find with thread – had popular thread brand companies that I wasn’t too fond of.  I wanted a nearly lint-less thread so I didn’t have to spend my quilting time cleaning my machine every time.  I had a starter machine that had to be cleaned often.  The slightest bit of lint buildup would cause the machine to start making noises and eventually it would stop sewing a beautiful stitch.  Some of the boxes had thread brands that my machine didn’t like so I avoided those brands.  I didn’t want to get a box that had only half the items that I would use.  I needed to be able to use all of the items to justify it.

Ask yourself – would I use these items in this subscription box?

September 2020 VIP package – color theme: BLUE

Another big name subscription box tended to follow particular fabric lines each month.  A girlfriend of mine got excited and signed up when she saw one month offered with one of her favorite designers.  The fabric quality was not what we expected.

I love soft fabrics.  The fabric selection was also not my style.  It didn’t make for good blenders.  The prints were very specific.  I felt like they took the fabrics that didn’t sell well and put them in the subscription box my friend got.

Did I want to risk getting fabric lines that wasn’t my cup of tea?  I normally don’t buy quilt kits either because it’s all in 1 fabric line.  I tend to blend my fabrics over a variety of lines to really make my quilts and other special projects truly unique and one of a kind.  I’m not a matchy, matchy person with my quilts.  I like the challenge of blending multiple fabric lines for a truly unique look!

I also didn’t want eight fabrics that all looked alike.  When you tend to buy from a single line – there is something in the design that ties it all together.  Sometimes it’s the same design in different sizes printed in multiple colors or a blend of colors.  This would not help me build my fabric stash to make more quilts and projects.  I wanted variety to build my fabrics to create more…to build my skills…and to truly become a better quilter.

Ask yourself – do you want to see an entire fabric line or a mix of fabrics?  Which would serve you best?

The last question I had for subscription boxes was if all of their items were truly for quilters.  Some boxes had items that were more gift items than notions or other sewing items that were useful in my sewing space.

Did I want to pay for something and then risk that their special surprise wouldn’t even be useful for my quilting project?  I mean, I don’t need a sticker or a keychain that says I’m a quilter.  I don’t want a company’s patch that I had to figure out how to put on something.  I really wanted to find a source for awesome new notions and patterns to use to make projects and amazing quilts.

The surprise was the Olfa Endurance Blade hiding under the pattern card.

If a new pattern or notion could prove to be helpful – that would be worth it to me.  If I could be guaranteed that the pattern would be in my skill set – beginner – then it would not be wasteful.  I could use that and not have to take special classes or watch special lessons.

I also didn’t want to pay for super fancy packaging when I could get more fabric for my dollar too!  I know….I know….but when my friend ordered that subscription box from a big name company – it appeared they spent more on the wrapping and the tissue than they did on picking out the fabrics for their customers.  I definitely wanted to make sure I was getting my money’s worth while paying for what I wanted.  Besides, a fancy wrapped package draws hubby’s eye….and we don’t need that here.

Ask yourself if EVERYTHING is really for your projects or are they knick-knacks?  Are these items that you really want?  Are the patterns and notions a good fit for your skill level?  Will it help you grow as a quilter?

 

All of these questions lead me to make my own subscription box.  Seriously.  The more I talked to my friends about it the more sure I was that I wasn’t the only one who was looking for this.  Then COVID hit and everyone really got stuck staying at home.

Do you know how hard it is to shop for fabric when you can’t even leave the house?  I’m the type of person who likes to touch the fabric before I buy it…so it was nearly impossible for me.  I began meeting with vendors and more fabric reps and found that I could seriously make a subscription that real quilters would love and appreciate.  I could find amazing fabrics and notions for beginners to encourage them to try quilting and to fall in love in quilting.

The VIP Quilting Club™ was thus created and launched in June of 2020.  The first membership packages were shipped out in July of 2020 with the color theme of RED.  There are photos above that show the actual fabrics selected.  All fabrics were only available for quilt shops to carry – thus we opened an online store to supplement this endeavor of the VIP Quilting Club™.

Each month has a theme, usually a color theme and it comes with eight fat quarters all within that theme.  It also comes with two spools of Wonderfil Efina thread in the same color theme, a light and dark of the theme color.  Efina has proven to be an amazing thread line that is nearly lint-less.  Seriously. You can do so much with this line of thread I felt beginner quilters would love this.  Intermediate and advanced quilters do as well, but I really wanted to encourage and teach new quilters.

The last surprise of the subscription package includes a bonus that will have a retail value of at least $15 and it will be a new sewing notion, pattern, or a fun combination of items to help you complete a project.  You can use it for any project you want!  Each month is NOT a project kit. I felt that adding projects to someone’s UFO list would add more stress to an already stressful time.

Each month IS meant to help a quilter build their fabric stash, their thread color wall, and give them the tools to create amazing projects and quilts.  It’s also meant to build friendships in a small space in the VIPS own private Facebook group where they can see the new fabrics coming into the Sew Much Charm project shop FIRST and they get weekly deals and special VIP pricing on fabrics and items in the shop.

The club is limited in number of memberships and currently there are only 10 memberships available for claim.  You can pick monthly or quarterly.  If you select quarterly, you can and some VIPs have decided there are other months that they would like to also pick up.  This is when they let us know which month – and we set them up with the “TRIAL” for that month.  Our vendors list is growing and so will the options that are available for VIPS.  If you are new quilter, beginner quilter, intermediate quilter, advanced quilter….and you want the red carpet treatment – this is the place for you.

We started this VIP Quilting Club™ in July of 2020 and started with the first theme as red.  All eight fat quarters were either red or had red in the design to help any quilter build their fabric stash.  They also received two spools of Efina thread in two different shades of red and an awesome surprise.  The first surprise was the Olpha Endurance Blade!  We’ve done blues, black & gold, yellows, oranges, teals, and now purples! This month’s (February) theme is GREEN!  This year is going to be super exciting!

Ask yourself – Do you want to be a VIP Quilter?

 

I encourage you to look for the solutions to help you create and build your skills.  Will the subscription you are looking at answer your questions?  Will it answer the questions above?

If you are looking to build your fabric lines, your threads, and patterns/notions all in one membership package – I encourage you to check out the VIP Quilting Club™ by Sew Much Charm.  Still not sure?  Jump on our Facebook lives during Fabric Therapy (Tuesdays @ 6pm Central) and ask any of the VIPS who hop on what they really think.  They’ve all agreed to answer private messages if you would rather ask questions privately.

How much is it?  We searched high and low when we were looking prior to deciding to make our own memberships.  We found subscriptions from $50-200/month.  Our membership pricing is meant to encourage quilters in all price ranges.  We offer eight fat quarters, two spools of Efina thread, and a surprise(s) that will retail at least $15.  Ours is priced at $45/month or $45/quarter – depending on which membership you select.  Taxes are already included.  Shipping is a flat rate of $8 in the USA.  International shipping is $35.  Right now – you can sign up and use the coupon code of VIPSHIP and save on shipping the entire life of your membership!  Just use this link and complete the registration process!

Still not sure?  We offer a one month trial.  Just email us and let us know you would like to just try one month of VIP.  We can send you the current month’s VIP if it’s not sold out or have you signed up for the following month depending on which theme you would also like more.

What are the upcoming themes for VIP?  Green is February….there will be red and white theme, a floral them, a black tie theme….the list goes on and on.  Do you have a suggestion or an idea for a theme?  Let us know!  We love listening to everyone’s ideas.

We hope you find a solution to help build yourself as a quilter and that you have a creative outlet that you so desire.  We want everyone to find their fabrics and threads that meet their needs…We wish everyone the joy of quilting!

Happy Quilting!

Joan Mantini

About Joan Mantini

After several years of being the Facebook page owner at Beginner Sewing, I noticed there was a desperate need to have a single go-to spot for members to be able to find answers to their common questions, get some useful tips & tricks, as well as find reputable places to purchase sewing products online. Taking my role as a trade publication editor by day, and combining it with my knowledge of frequently requested beginner sewing advice, I created www.beginner-sewing.com. An outlet that gives new sewists a free digital magazine geared for entry level sewing as an extra bonus!

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