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I bought this magazine mainly for the amazing free gifts, but also to see if I could recreate some of the gorgeous cards on the front. I didn't expect much, but was really pleasantly surprised! The magazine tends to be quite thick, although there have been thinner ones recently, and are jam packed full of inspiration and instructions on making stunning cards. They recommend equipment and suppliers, too, and there are some brilliant competitions! Most editions come with a 'pack' of embellishments, papers and ribbons which you can use to make some the designs featured, and it's very good value for money. My only complaint is the large amount of advertising pages which seem to appear occasionally. The smaller issues can sometimes feel like there is more adverts then actual articles, and as the mag is always sealed, you can't really see what you are getting. All in all, its an excellent magazine whether you are a newbie crafter or an experienced card maker.
I started making my own cards about 18 months ago and this was one of the first magazines I bought in order to help me get started. It was the March issue 2008 and had lots of ideas for both Easter and Mothers day. I was buying it on and off for the next year or so but found it quite hard to get hold of. The only shop that seemed to stock it was Hobbycraft. Each issues costs around £3.75 and it is published monthly. About 6 months ago I started subscribing to guarantee that I would get my hands on a copy each month. I subscribe for 3 months at a time and the price is £11.25. This is advertised as a trial subscription and there is no discount involved on the cover price. If you commit to more months then you can receive more discount - 6 months cost £21.90 and 12 months costs £42.60. They also have the prices if you wanted the magazine to either Europe or 'the rest of the world'. Each month there are about 10 free papers and vellums that are included in the middle section of the magazine and to be honest I buy it mainly for these. I found that the papers I had bought from shops were getting boring and I was running out of inspiration. But in this magazine it shows you several ideas that you can use your papers for. For a few months I was also receiving a small additional booklet with more papers in it. These were good, but there were no ideas to go with them - either in the magazine or on the website. You just had to use your own imagination. The range of papers varies each month and it tends to be quite seasonal as well. There are often toppers, borders and designs that you can use for decoupage as well. I also learnt how to use vellum properly using this magazine as it is quite tricky to get right. I really like these papers because they are very high quality and not shiny, as they can be in some of the other magazines. The magazine itself has several different features from their resident crafters. The designs are clearly pictured and there are step by step instructions on how to create the cards in the picture. There is always a list on one side that says what you will need to make the cards and at the end there is a stockist list that tells you exactly where you can buy the products, including the reference numbers if needed. I find this very useful as I often see cards that I would like to make and I can know exactly where to find the materials. Sometimes if you want to make some of the cards they can work out quite expensive, especially if you don't have a large supply of card craft materials. I normally use the ideas and adapt them to suit what I have and buy a few materials if I really need to. There are quite a lot of adverts throughout the magazine which can be annoying. Sometimes it feels that there are more adverts than features sometimes. But the adverts are necessary to keep the magazine going and some are quite interesting, advertising craft shows and new products available. Is the magazine value for money? I think it is. You get a nice variety of papers each month which would be worth more than the magazine costs. Also you get really good hints and tips and lots of card ideas to give you lots of inspiration. I am definitely going to carry on buying this magazine.