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When lockdown first happened, I started several sewing class subscriptions to keep my crafty spirits up.
I’d been an on-and-off Craftsy and Creativebug subscriber over the years but was particularly intrigued by the National Sewing Circle app I discovered on our Roku TV.
Never having heard of the subscription service before, I tried out the free version and later the Premium version last year.
Before subscribing, I researched and read several negative National Sewing Circle reviews on their Facebook page. But they had over 300k likes on their page, so were those reviews accurate? Was this a good or bad crafting platform?
Nonetheless, I decided to give it a try. Want to learn more?
I’ll describe my experience in this National Sewing Circle review!
National Sewing Circle Review: The Short Summary
There is a small subset of people I recommend this channel for.
For instance, if you want to use the app on your TV, this is an excellent option for Roku, Chromecast, and other eligible users. I like sounds in the background when I sew or embroider, so that was the main perk of this subscription—that and project inspiration.
If you’re a beginner who doesn’t like YouTube or searching the web for instructional videos, you might also enjoy having everything in one place without ads.
For myself, I didn’t renew my subscription after the first year. Why?
First, the promotional emails to constantly upgrade will make you pull your hair out until you unsubscribe.
Also, the Premium sewing videos are good quality, but they’re nothing that you can’t find on YouTube if you want free videos and don’t mind ads.
For videos without ads, I think Craftsy and Creativebug are better (learn more in my Creativebug review!) In addition to good sewing videos, these two platforms offer classes for a ton of hobbies, not just sewing.
Also, many of the videos are geared toward beginner sewers, which I don’t consider myself. Being unable to increase up the play speed to zip through the irrelevant parts is not cool.
And, if you are looking for a sewing community, Facebook groups, Patternreview.com, and many other sewing blogs offer free sewing camaraderie.
The Longer National Sewing Circle Review
Now, a little more about my experience if you’re still interested in learning more!
What is National Sewing Circle?
Since 2012, National Sewing Circle has been an online community and resource for sewists who desire sewing tutorials, project ideas, and connecting with others.
While providing video classes taught by experienced sewers is the bread and butter of this subscription service, there are also relevant articles, reviews, FAQs, and project patterns and inspiration on the site.
Is National Sewing Circle legitimate?
Yes, they are 100% legitimate. They are Better Business Bureau accredited and have a working partnership with Roku TV and other providers.
So, the issue isn’t now whether they’re legit but whether a subscription to National Sewing Circle is worth the money.
What You Can Access for Free (No Membership!)
When poking around their website and reading other users’ Facebook reviews, I found some confusion over their free and Premium plans.
Signing up for newsletters (and subsequently getting bombarded) is free. Joining their Facebook group and conversing with other sewists is free.
You can also check out some patterns in the free sewing patterns section before subscribing.
If you want to preview classes before subscribing, there is a large selection of free videos as well. These videos will have ads unless you purchase the Premium subscription.
What’s included with the Premium Membership?
While the free membership gives a taste of the quality, the Premium membership offers more, including
- Premium videos (not Gold) without ads
- More patterns and project inspiration
- 2 video downloads to keep forever
As soon as you stop subscribing, you lose everything but your 2 permanent videos and any patterns you’ve downloaded.
Signing Up for Their Free Email: Don’t Do It.
I signed up for their free emails first before subscribing. Let it be known this is nothing more than a continuous sales funnel to drive you to subscribe to the Premium subscription.
Here’s what I experienced:
First, they offer you a percentage discount several times a week.
If you don’t hop on it, then the National Sewing Circle discount gets much steeper.
After a few weeks of resisting, you’ll eventually get a pretty good offer for an annual subscription!
I held out for a few months hoping they’d give me a year free or a $1 offer before I ultimately decided to take them up on their current super-cheap offer. The couple of bucks I paid didn’t make much of a dent in my finances!
Video Quality and Difficulty Level
Most videos are very basic, which is great if you’re a beginner.
If you are more advanced, most of the skills videos won’t appeal to you. There is a decent selection of project videos, however, geared toward more advanced sewists.
I’m an intermediate to more advanced sewist, depending on the task. For instance, I frequently sew garments but infrequently stitch bags and am not as well-versed in those advanced skills.
Overall, I decided that while some videos fit my desired expertise level, it seemed silly to continue with a subscription when I could find similar videos on YouTube.
That being said, I have no objections to video quality. The seamstresses were all personable, extensively knowledgeable, and overall great educators!
Streaming on Your TV
According to NSC, you can stream National Sewing Circle with Apple TV, Fire TV, Roku, Chromecast, or HDMI cable. Instructions for each device are listed on their website.
I only have a Roku TV and can confirm it is easy to log in and stream there! I had some difficulty finding older videos, but my solution was to favorite videos I wanted to watch on my computer and then find them on my TV through that list.
How to Stop Receiving Emails
Even after you subscribe to the Premium level, the promos don’t stop, as they then want you to upgrade to the Gold level!
Thankfully, individual emails have an unsubscribe button on the bottom. You can also head over to your account preferences, and check which emails you still want to receive.
The newsletters were okay, but the NSC special promotions and trusted partner offers were NOT something I wanted clogging my inbox.
Premium vs. Gold Level
There are two main paid levels, and as I mentioned, as soon you pay for the Premium, they start pushing the Gold membership. I never felt the need to subscribe to Gold and stuck with Premium.
All Premium membership perks are included with the Gold, but the Gold offers these extra options, in case you’re interested:
- 3 additional each of sewing guides, patterns, and Sewing Circle academy classes (though you don’t get to choose which ones.)
- 8 free video downloads to keep forever (vs. only 2 with the Premium plan)
- 4 free mini-classes, which are live-streamed
- “Ask the Expert” program, which gives you support as a sewing newbie
- 50% Premium video discount becomes 60% with a Gold membership
- 10% discount on their other shop products and 20% discount on sewing classes
You can check out their extensive differentiation here.
To opt out of automatic renewal, you must contact their customer service department by phone (1-855-208-7187) or email ([email protected]). They have a chat function on their site, but I’ve never found them online when I open it.
Thankfully, if you forget to opt out and your subscription renews, National Sewing Circle will refund any unused months if you contact them as described above.
The issue with automatic renewal, in my opinion, is that you are charged the “current membership rate” when the time comes. This will likely be significantly higher than the price you were charged when first starting your subscription and is a bit of an unknown until the renewal date. As such, this is another reason I didn’t continue my subscription.
- The first year is very affordable.
- You can use the app to watch National Sewing Circle on a TV or other smart device.
- Classes are good for beginners, and the project ideas are fun!
- Way too many spammy sales emails compared to emails of quality.
- New videos aren’t added often enough for avid watchers.
- Automatic renewal isn’t great for us forgetful folks, especially since the promos don’t apply again.
- I prefer Craftsy or Creativebug, which have more than just sewing classes.
- You can learn pretty similar things from YouTube for free if you don’t mind the ads.
And, that’s been my experience this last year! I hope this National Sewing Circle review has answered your questions and helped you understand more about this sewing platform.