Planner review: Recollections by Michaels craft stores

The planner world has been abuzz lately with news that Michaels has released their own line of personal-sized planners! (So new that they aren't even available on the website yet.) If you're looking for an in-depth assessment before you buy, I've got you covered. Here's your Rebellious Planner Review: Recollections by Michaels craft stores.

The Verdict

In my opinion, these planners are superb quality for their price. Just make sure to check for loose rings & bad stitching before you buy.

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Planner Review: Recollections by Michaels

The new line of Recollections planners (the in-store brand produced by Michaels craft stores) features personal-sized planners in a range of gold, pearl white, gold & white striped, lavender / pale pink, fuchsia, seafoam green, light teal, dark teal, cobalt blue, and black. They're all gorgeous, but I gravitated immediately toward the gold & white striped edition. I'm all about stripes & polka dots when I can get my hands on them!

The planner's quality is undeniably impressive for its minimal price point: just $19.99, which (to my knowledge) is the least expensive ring bound planner on the market. Its cover is vinyl rather than leather, of course, but that can be a bonus for folks who prefer to spend their money on vegan cruelty-free accessories.

It's weightier and more heavily padded than the Color Crush, which retails starting at $26.49 at Joann Fabrics & Crafts. It has slightly different dimensions, too; the Recollections line (pictured left) is shorter and wider than the Color Crush (pictured right.) Overall, the Recollections planner feels like better quality in my hands.

Planner review: Recollections by Michaels. Compared with the Color Crush planner by Webster's Pages. (Recollections on the left, Webster's Pages on the right.)

Breaking down the Recollections binder

The planner itself is a 6-ring binder that holds A6 sized inserts, sold separately. The binder has gold-tone accents (like the snap on the front cover and the rings inside) and is covered in vinyl rather than leather. It features three slits in the inside front cover for gift cards or ID / credit cards, as well as a larger pocket and a secretarial pocket. Unlike some budget wallets I've encountered, these credit card slots are lined, so you won't lose your cards down inside the slots.

Planner review: Recollections planner by Michaels. Viewed with the front cover open.

Inside the back cover is more space for note paper - both a vertical slit for pads and a horizontal pocket for booklets. This planner definitely has you covered for places to keep your stickers & accessories.

dividers

The planner binder comes with three extremely sturdy & attractive dividers as well as 12 pages each of To Do List, lined, and gridded paper for writing on. I have to admit I was exceedingly impressed with the quality of the paper they used for inserts; I tested it with both standard ballpoint pens and gel pens, and neither style of pen ghosted through the paper even slightly! The paper stock isn't very smooth to the touch, but that may help gel pens & other watery inks to absorb faster. I still wouldn't recommend an alcohol-based pen like a Sharpie, however.

Planner review: Recollections. Example of insert paper quality.

Things to watch out for

As great as these planners are, they are still the budget option, which means not a whole lot of quality control. Watch out for lemons. Inspect your planner thoroughly for the following flaws before purchase.

Loose or mismatched rings

In general, the cheaper a binder is, the more common this problem is. While there are tutorials out there for fixing a gap in a ring, the process is painful on the fingertips and runs the risk of breaking the ring entirely. The Recollections gaps are minimal enough that I wouldn't recommend that route. Still, they're enough to catch or even tear your inserts, so check the rings closely before you buy.

In the picture below, you can see that the top ring is perfectly closed but that the lower two are slightly out of alignment.

Planner review: Recollections. Watch out for loose or mismatched rings, as these can catch or tear your inserts when you turn pages.

Poor stitching quality

The other major problem I encountered with the Recollections line was bad stitching. Several of the planners I picked up had threads hanging off in multiple places, or else a stitch had skipped and there was a lumpy snag in the vinyl cover as a result. Even on the planner I did end up buying, you can see a few loose edges sticking out. It's not enough to bother me but if this is a pet peeve for you, you'll want to look carefully.

Planner review: Recollections. Keep an eye out for fraying ends in the stitching.

Overall quality

All that said, it's my opinion that these planners are an excellent purchase. As long as you inspect it thoroughly first, the quality you get for the price is very high. For scale of reference I'd peg them at better than the Color Crush but not as good as the Dokibook.

Breaking down the add-on inserts

Since I haven't decided what I want to do with this planner yet, I only bought one pack of the additional inserts to test. I opted for the Fitness inserts because of the gorgeous teal cover.

Planner review: Recollections. Monthly spread in the Fitness inserts pack.

There are really only two spreads in this pack: a monthly spread with space for goals & notes, and a weekly spread with space to record daily workouts & nutrition. I was quite surprised to find that there are more of the monthly spreads than there are of the weekly spreads, and I'm not sure why Michaels chose to make that decision. Out of 40 sheets, 25 are monthly spreads and only 15 are weekly. Weird.

Planner review: Recollections. Weekly spread in the Fitness inserts pack.

While I love the overall design of these inserts (and especially love the nice touch of gold foil on the edges!) I don't think I'll actually find them very useful. They offer no function that I can't already achieve both faster & easier through Fitbit and My Fitness Pal.

Final Assessment

The planner binders themselves are well worth the money if you shop carefully. The additional inserts, not so much.

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