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Do You Subscribe?

December 5, 2014

In the US (not sure about other countries), “subscription boxes” have become really popular.  If you don’t know what I’m talking about basically you sign up (and pay obviously) to receive a box of products every month but you don’t know exactly what will be in the box until you get it, only that they will be part of an overall theme (like dog treats, makeup, or shaving products of some sort).  Small businesses are getting in on it too, as described in the NPR article linked above, but the only sewing related one I’ve seen so far is embroidery themed.


What does this have to do with anything?  Well, Colette recently introduced their new Seamwork digital magazine and I was really intrigued by it.  Is this the next step in the sewing blogger evolution?  Now that it seams like every other sewing blogger out there wants to sell their own patterns or join the sewing industry in some way, the (relatively) older and more established pattern makers (like Colette) will be looking to expand and offer something different.  Writing a book is one mile marker, but I’m pretty sure they’re not making a ton of money writing sewing books right now.  So what else? More product beyond patterns? Or just more patterns.

Now, Burda has been doing the subscription (and magazine) thing forever so it’s definitely not a new idea, but for a tiny company, supposing they’re capable of putting out new patterns on a monthly basis, it could be revolutionary.  Digital technology and the internet cut out shipping and printing costs too.  I doubt we’ll be seeing many Seamwork copycats any time soon, but we will see more businesses branching out (like Sewaholic selling clothing tags).  I would not be surprised to see more variations on the subscription idea.  Pattern subscriptions might be more common in the embroidery world but embroidery patterns are much easier to produce.  I don’t follow knitting blogs, but maybe there is something similar for knitters too?  I would still love to see a sewing themed subscription box, maybe with cool buttons, zippers, and patterns in it.

Do you subscribe to any box services? Are you going to subscribe to Seamwork (I decided not to since I already get Burda and don’t use those enough as it is)?  Or have you seen any other sewing subscriptions?  There have definitely been major shifts in sewing blog style over the years, what do you think the next sewing blog evolution will be?  All these questions and more!


19 Comments leave one →
  1. December 5, 2014 5:30 pm

    I am not of the Colette aesthetic and not really interested in the magazine. I did just start my Burda subscription and will probably splurge and give Ottobre a try to! Although I am VERY tempted by the Style Arc membership but I should sew the couple of patterns that I have before pulling the trigger on that. Ooh and with the Fabric Mart Fabricista 2nd place win I get a Julies Picks membership for 2015 which should be fun!

    I think I’m too picky to do any of those box services. And I already have a lot of ‘stuff’ that I can’t seem to get rid of.

    Great questions, keep ’em coming!

    • December 5, 2014 6:52 pm

      I don’t like many of Colette’s patterns either, but the magazine articles are free to download and some of them look interesting. I had no idea Style Arc had a membership, I saw they recently started doing some pdf patterns so I hope they expand that. My wedding dress was a Style Arc pattern and from that experience I think they have really good fit, shipping is just too expensive from Australia! You’re going to love Burda though 😉

      • December 5, 2014 8:02 pm

        I saw your beautiful wedding gown!!! The SA membership is $50 and normally gets you 10% off every pattern but right now it’s 30% off for December!! Plus one free pattern for joining.

        As much as I dislike pdf’s, I’m happy they are offering them. I can’t wait to try the Sandra jeans.

  2. December 5, 2014 6:06 pm

    Very interesting. I’m curious what the patterns will be like. At 2 patterns a month, would it be a tote bag and a straight skirt? Or something more involved.

    • December 5, 2014 6:53 pm

      Probably simple things like bags and skirts. This month they have a loose cardigan and bags. It’s a good idea, but not really for people who have too many patterns already (like me haha)

  3. December 5, 2014 7:28 pm

    I haven’t subscribed, but I do really like what I’ve seen of the new Colette magazine. I think each month the free patterns are supposed to be ‘basics’ alright. I have enough patterns to work on right now, so patterns aren’t really a selling point for me, but I picked up some good technique tips from the first issue which I will be using soon in things I’d already planned to make. I’d say (based on their pitch and the first issue) that how much you get out of it depends on your skill level more so than whether you like their style. I bought several Burdastyles but have yet to make anything from them because tracing plus having no clear directions turns out to be a lethal combo for me! But Burda is very much a pattern-focused publication: I never pull them off the shelf to re-read the articles, and that’s what I would want from a sewing magazine – a useful resource to return to. I don’t know what the next blog evolution will be, it’s a very interesting question!

    • December 6, 2014 7:19 am

      I hope the Seamwork magazine continues to be free to download (paying gets you the patterns if I understand correctly), but if you’re looking for good articles you should check out the Vogue Pattern Magazine or Threads. lots of info in those back issues!

  4. Carolyn permalink
    December 5, 2014 7:37 pm

    Interesting questions! Personally, I don’t like the idea of paying for something before I know exactly what I’m going to get, which I why I don’t subscribe to anything and don’t plan to. As for the new Colette magazine, it seems like an interesting idea, but I’m not their target audience in a lot of ways, and the idea of a 3-hour project isn’t very appealing to me. I like the challenge of something more complicated!

    Thanks for the link to the article of craft book writing. The fact that some authors are only making $5/hour for hundreds of hours of work is absolutely ridiculous. I get paid more than that as a full-time student, and I think I’m still grossly underpaid! Why anyone would willingly accept a project like that is beyond me, but to each their own.

    • December 6, 2014 7:25 am

      Ya the book writing world is a mystery to me, if craft writers aren’t getting paid minimum wage, what are novelists making? But it makes sense also that there isn’t much money in it, the craft book market feels very saturated. I’ve seen lots of book tours online and really wonder how those people even got a book deal, they are starting look generic. I just know I wouldn’t write a book for that much money!

  5. December 5, 2014 7:50 pm

    Interesting. I didn’t know of the Colette thing – though I find the styles just don’t work well with my body type. I’d be interested in a sewing subscription thing like you mention with notions and patterns. I do have burda and Ottobre subscriptions but month after month the excitement fades 😉

    • December 6, 2014 7:27 am

      I have a Burda subscription and some months I don’t like anything, but then some months I find even just one pattern that I love and to me that makes it exciting. I’m also a bit of a pattern “collector” so I love having ALL the Burdas!

  6. December 6, 2014 2:23 am

    I am not earning at the moment so I don’t have any subscriptions. I used to subscribe to Ottobre Womens mag and have stopped as I now have a collection of them with more patterns than I can use. But I find them good patterns for basics, though instructions are limited. The box doesn’t appeal too much as I feel overwhelmed by having too much stuff already. I would rather use my limited funds to buy exactly what I want for specific projects.

    • December 6, 2014 7:31 am

      Ya I hear you there too, I definitely don’t need any more sewing supplies, but I like the idea of a surprise every now and then. Is it frugal? No way, but I’d bet that wouldn’t matter for enough people

  7. December 6, 2014 3:02 am

    I think of my Burdas as being like a subscription box – you never know what you’re going to get each month but there is normally enough good stuff to make it worth it.

    Collette’s offering doesn’t appeal to me because you need a lot more than three patterns each time for there to be a good chance of liking one, and Collette’s style is much too girly for me.

    I don’t know what the next trend will be but I hope it will increase variety!

    • December 6, 2014 7:41 am

      Yes to all counts. I should have included magazine only subscriptions too – like Threads etc., but those are pretty traditional business models. If Burda did more articles (the couple that they do do are often interesting) or Threads actually included a pattern in the magazine (not just selling one through Simplicity separately), that would be fun and different.
      I think if a person didn’t already have a good “library” of patterns (like you inevitably do with Burda subscriptions), the Colette magazine could be worth it. $6 for 2 patterns isn’t bad compared to one Burda pdf at $5. Lately it seems like Colette flipflops between minimalist and girly. I like when they do minimalist, but I’m not going to buy simple patterns for $18, I suppose that’s why their trying a different approach.

  8. December 6, 2014 8:37 am

    I actually do a subscription box for Julep. It is a make-up/beauty company. I really enjoy it. With it I do get a preview of what will be in my box and I can change things out if I would like or even add additional items for additional cost. Plus I have the option of gifting one of my months to a friend, which I thought was kinda cool. I was thinking about doing that for a few of my friends birthdays.

    I like the Seamwork magazine so far. I read every article in it and I love the idea of the patterns included, but I have not subscribed however. I am going to give it a few issues to see if they are patterns I would actually use first. So far, I am not sure. The cardigan was nice but it reminds me a lot of McCall’s 6844 and the purses were nice but I don’t ever have a desire to sew a purse.

    • December 6, 2014 11:39 am

      That’s cool that you can gift a box to someone else one month, it kindof makes the subscription more versitile. And changing things out is a good idea too, but I suppose only bigger companies are capable of doing that.
      I also liked all the articles, I think I might need to do bedazzle my next tank top…

  9. Erika A permalink
    December 6, 2014 2:50 pm

    I have subscribed to Yarn Box in the past and really loved it. Some of the yarn was pretty out there, but it was stuff I would never have even known about or thought of buying for myself so I liked it. You can set color preferences and things so you don’t end up with fingering weight yarn when you mostly use worsted… Etc. I also subscribe to BarkBox for my dog and haven’t been disappointed yet, but he’s not very lucky!

    I think a subscription box for sewers would be really cool! Cool tools, fancy notions, maybe small 1-2 yard cuts of fabric. I love subscription boxes because it’s like getting a present once a month!

  10. December 8, 2014 11:25 am

    I love the idea of a subscription box for sewers. The idea is rather new to me – I stumbled up on it just within the last couple of weeks – and thought it was an interesting idea. But I’m trying to curb the collection of stuff (whatever the stuff may be) and Burda seems to be the biggest bang for the dollar. I agree there are months with nothing interesting, but then there’s months when I love almost everything in it! I’ve made up one Colette pattern, and was pleased with the drafting/instructions, but their aesthetic is definitely not my style.

So, what do you think?

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