The Crafter’s Box Subscription Review – July 2017
The Crafter’s Box is a monthly DIY subscription “for people who love to make, build, shape, design, and create.” Each box includes supplies for one craft as well as access to online instruction by the featured maker of the month.
My Subscription Addiction pays for this subscription. (Check out the review process post to learn more about how we review boxes).
This is a review of the $65 The Crafter’s Box + $26 add-on for July.
The Subscription Box: The Crafter’s Box
The Cost: $65 a month + free shipping, or $60 a month with a 3-month subscription. An optional add-on kit is also available; its price varies each month. July’s optional materials kit cost $26.
The Products: A curated box of craft materials and specialty tools assembled in collaboration with an artist/maker.
Ships to: US (for free), $10 to Canada and $20 everywhere else.
Keep Track of Your Subscriptions: Add this box to your subscription list or wishlist!
July’s featured artist is printmaker Erin Dollar of Cotton & Flax. The project is a large linen throw stenciled with textile ink.
Hemmed 100% Linen Blanket – Value $50? (based on a similar item)
The linen throw arrived inside a cotton bag – but more on that later! The first thing I noticed was the weight – I thought it would be lightweight like a Turkish towel, but it’s a heavy, tightly woven fabric. Initially, it was quite stiff, however, it softened after washing and drying several times. It measures approximately 55″ x 75″ by my rough estimation. These were made for The Crafter’s Box, so the RV is only a guess.
Plastic-coated Freezer Paper – Value $7.67? (based on a similar item)
I was happy that an entire roll of freezer paper was provided for stencil-making because I used nearly all of it. The plastic coating is important; it’s what adheres the stencil to the fabric temporarily so that it can be inked.
Jacquard Textile Ink in Sapphire Blue and Black, 70ml/2.25oz each – Total Value $$12.34
This ink is made especially for fabric and can be heat set with an iron. I had doubts about the ‘Popsugar blue’ ink but was a fan by the time I was done.
#1 X-Acto Knife – Value $2.52
Foam Brush – Value $2.19
The knife is for cutting out the stencil and the foam brush is for painting it. Although there were two pots of paint, there was only one foam brush. It would have been nice to have one for each color.
Materials kit – $26 add-on cost
Each month The Crafter’s Box offers a materials kit or add-on related to the project. Usually these are additional materials for further crafting, or a special item such as a picture frame. This time however, the kit included optional items to use on the main project. (The extra foam brush was much appreciated!)
Jacquard Textile Ink in White – Value $5.57
This jar of ink didn’t make it into the photo above, but was included in the materials kit. The white ink really popped against the natural linen.
They included supplies for making pom poms and tassels that could fringe the ends of the linen throw. This booklet gave full instructions for making them.
Wool Fine Fingering Weight Yarn, 4 skeins – Total Value $24? ($6 each)
The kit included 1 oatmeal skein, one black skein and two marine blue skeins. The yarn is fine and works well for tassels. My estimate is based on various other brands; The Crafter’s Box did not specify the maker.
Tassel/Pom Pom Maker – Value $8?
Large Needle – Value $0.67? (based on a similar item)
Cotton Twine – Value $1? (based on a similar item)
This is the tassel-making tool, as well as thick string and a needle with a large eye. The wooden tool is their own design; the estimated price is just a guess.
Here’s a tassel in progress, ready to be bound by the thick string. After that, you snip the other side so that it makes a fringe.
These tassels are enough to finish one side of the linen throw. I estimate that the kit includes enough yarn to make around 80–100 tassels, however there might not be enough binding string for so many.
Instruction with Erin Dollar – Value $25 (This is the ‘video only’ price during their twice-a-year pop-up sales.)
Erin Dollar is a pleasant instructor, but this video is only around 12 minutes long. Instructions for the basic technique were clear, but I would have liked more advanced tips. One great thing about The Crafter’s Box is that subscribers can attend an hour-long online Q&A session with the featured artist, and Erin was able to go into much more detail then. I always find these sessions to be useful, and they’re archived on the website in case you miss one for a box you’ve purchased.
Erin calls this ‘a quick and easy project to decorate your home’ in ‘just an afternoon’. I’m not sure I’d call multiple loads of laundry and ironing, hours of drawing, precise cutting and printing, and 24 hour drying times as ‘quick and easy’. This is a quick and easy decor project in the same way that a Thanksgiving roast turkey is a quick and easy snack. But that’s ok, I’m always up for a challenge!
The instructions say to sketch out a drawing and trace it, but I didn’t have paper large enough for the fish pattern I had in mind. Instead, I drew the design freehand with a dry erase marker on the slick side of the freezer paper. It worked well and I was able to refine my design.
Once I was happy with the fish, I traced it multiple times to make more. I added some variation to each fish so that none were exactly alike. I also drew a lotus, a lily pad, and a dragonfly to complete the koi pond look. I kept laying out the pieces hoping I was done, but the throw was so large that it was hard to make enough to fill it. I ended up making 5 fish.
Once the drawings were done, it was time to cut out the stencils. I went through more x-acto blades than were included in the kit, as a dull blade would tear the paper. (Found out the hard way!) After the fish was cut out, I wiped off the dry-erase ink. Multiply this by five fish and various other little things, and it took a long while. My fingers are still sore!
This was the scariest part – committing to a final design and ironing the stencil shiny-side-down so that it temporarily stuck to the linen. There’s no turning back: removing the stencil destroys it, so once it’s down, that’s it. (The pieces of black tape cover claw marks. I do not recommend feline assistance for any stage of this project.)
Inking was the quickest part, but also nerve-wracking. Once the ink covers the stencil, you can’t see the pattern and have no idea what it will look like. Was ink bleeding through the edges? Did I use too much or too little? The ink is unforgiving and there are no second chances. I could barely wait for the ink to dry before peeling off the paper.
It worked! I was so happy to see my fish emerge, just as I’d drawn them. They’re not perfect – there’s a smudge or extra blob of ink here and there, but I don’t think the mistakes detract much.
Here’s the (nearly) finished throw! (It looks like the design is cut off on one side, but that’s just the way I was holding it.) One great thing about this project is that each throw will look completely different – check out #thecraftersbox on Instagram to see how other makers approached their designs.
There are things I’d do differently next time, though right now I don’t care if I never see another x-acto blade.
I haven’t sewn on the tassels and now I’m having second thoughts. I kind of like it plain. What do you think?
Oh, and remember the cotton bag that the linen came in? I wanted to do a test before inking my throw, so I traced one of June’s monstera leaves onto the stencil paper and used white ink for the design. I sewed the bottom of the pouch so that it would be flat and sit upright, and cut off a piece of the cardboard outer box to give it structure on the bottom. It’s finished off with a pair of tassels. This makes a great bag to hold all the tassel supplies!
Verdict: This throw is easily the nicest thing I’ve made all year, but I also never want to do this again. It was both wonderfully fun and very stressful. I often think I don’t have enough space at home to make anything large, but this proved me wrong. I like that the finished item looks handmade but not homemade if that makes sense. With the smooth printing technique, it’s the type of item that wouldn’t prompt friends to ask if you made it yourself because they’d just assume you bought it somewhere.
I estimate a combined retail value well over $160 (including the instruction video), though with exclusive items and a lack of listed brands, it’s impossible to know. This box is more about the convenience and curation rather than RV. With the materials kit, this month’s The Crafter’s Box cost $91. Would I pay that for my linen throw? I don’t know, but I wouldn’t part with it for $91. I always come away from this box with extra respect for people who do these crafts for a living.
What do you think of July’s The Crafter’s Box? Should I add the tassels or leave them off?