Shipping Quilts to a Show

Shipping quilts is the most nerve-racking part of entering a quilt in a show.  Well, at least that’s the case for me.  It is also a lot of work, but ultimately it is worth it since it gives you an opportunity to share your work with lots of other very appreciative quilters.  Over the last few years, I have finally developed a process for packing and shipping quilts.  It will probably continue to evolve, but I thought I would share with you what I do to prepare a quilt to go off into the world.

Shipping Quilts

Today I sent three quilts off to an upcoming show.  Raise the Roof, Resonance, and Lateral Ascension will be included in the American Quilter’s Society Quilt Week in Grand Rapids this August.  The photos of the packing process in this post are actually from a previous show.  What can I say? I have been meaning to write this post for quite a while!

Raise the Roof

Raise the Roof

Resonance

Resonance

Lateral Ascension

Lateral Ascension

By the time shipping day rolls around, I have (almost!) always added the hanging sleeve and label to the quilt, so most of the packing process is making sure the quilt is ready to show at its best.  First I lint roll each quilt, starting with the back and moving to the front.  The only place in the house that is large enough to lay most quilts out flat is the eat-in kitchen.  The furniture gets moved to the family room and the floor is thoroughly vacuumed before quilts are laid out.  I use a commercial grade lint roller for the quilts.  It is more sticky than most lint rollers, but even more helpful is the heavy duty handle with metal construction in the areas that move.  I have had the occasional lint roller break before I switched to these commercial rollers, and that is not fun when you are in a hurry.  I am always in a hurry on shipping day!

Lint Rolling Overlay

While I am de-linting the quilt I try to examine each area of the quilt for threads that need to be clipped or anything else that needs attention on the quilt.  One time I found a couple rows of stitching that had come loose at some point during a previous show.  I was so glad that I found and fixed those before sending the quilt back out!

Lint Rolling Complementary Composition

Any time that I have used cotton batting and/or have a quilt with heavy matchstick quilting, I stuff each fold with tissue paper.  I am trying to cut back on the amount of tissue used when the quilt has wool batting and slightly looser quilting.  Quilts are folded top to bottom and then sideways.  I had once heard that folding quilts diagonally, but only did it once.  When that quilt received a prize, I had the chance to speak with one of the people running the show and was informed diagonal folding is probably the worst way to ship a quilt.  It isn’t easy to fold a quilt on the diagonal, so I was actually relieved to hear this.

Folded Quilt

Whenever possible, I try to fold the quilt so the label is on the outside.  If the quilt ever gets separated from its box, I want it to be easy to identify and get back to me.  Each show is different, but AQS does not require the label to be covered when it is sent out.  The quilt is then put in a transparent plastic bag.  I prefer the extra large ziplock bags since they have a strong seal to keep the quilt dry while in transit.

Boxed Quilt

The paperwork required for each show is different, but for this show you tape an envelope with the quilt’s show number printed on it to the bag.  This envelope holds the return shipping information.  I have recently started using pre-printed labels for shipping and return shipping.  This saves a lot of time dropping packages off, and it often ends up saving a little money on shipping.  Setting up a shipping account has been very worthwhile for me.  Where I live, FedEx seems to have the best rates and be the most reliable.  The Postal Service is more expensive once I account for insurance, and UPS does not have particularly good service in this area.  UPS routinely leave packages sitting out in the open, even if they are supposed to require a signature for delivery.  I don’t know if this is the case in other areas, but the fact that it happens here makes me worry it happens other places.

Quilts ready to ship

If you are shipping high value items with FedEx, they will probably check that your boxes are properly packed before shipping, so it is best to let them seal the boxes at the store.  If you are printing your own label, you can go ahead and seal them up.  For the show pictured above, I had four quilts heading out in one day.  I usually plan to spend an average of about one hour per quilt to prep paperwork and pack it to ship.  Fortunately, when I’m shipping to AQS, ground shipping only takes one day to arrive, so I only have one night to worry about my quilts in transit!  It has taken a couple of years, but I am finally getting used to this process.  The guy at FedEx even recognizes me now!

Now I get to worry until I receive the notification of the safe arrival of my quilts!

Diamond Placemat

The charity that the Central Ohio Modern Quilt Guild is working with this year is Meals on Wheels.  We are making placemats that are distributed to recipients along with their meals to brighten things up.  Our Charity Chair has been issuing challenges this year to encourage participation and encourage members to use these projects to stretch their quilting skills.  This placemat is from one of these challenges.

Diamond Placemat

We were each given a line drawing of a traditional quilt block that we reinterpreted into a placemat.  I received a block called “Diamond Quilt Block.”

Diamond Block

My reinterpretation is fairly straightforward.  I stretched the traditionally square block into a rectangle, but then I had some fun with the quilting.  I matched the quilting thread to the pink, green, and white sections of the block, and extended the stitching out to the edges of the block.  Each stitching line pivots to create a triangular form.

Diamond Placemat detail

The pink and green stitching is done in 28wt thread and the white is 12wt, but the bobbins thread is always 50wt thread in the color matching the top thread.  This still allows the design to show up nicely, even on the tone on tone print that I used on the back of the placemat.

Diamond Placemat Quilting detail back

I have several bias bindings that I keep made up and ready to go for small projects, and I chose this one because it enhances the energy of the diagonal quilting lines.

Diamond Placemat back

The labels for our guild quilts are Spoonflower Prints with our guild name and Logo.  We each sign the label so the recipients know who made their placemat.

Placemat Label

 

I won’t be writing a full pattern for this project, but if you would like to make your own, you can download the templates below.  This file is templates only, and the template on the final page needs to be assembled prior to cutting your fabric.

Diamond Placemat Templates

Placemat Stats

Title:  Diamond Placemat

Size: 12″ x 18″

Techniques:  Machine Piecing

Quilting:  Machine echo quilting using a walking foot on a Bernina 1008 domestic machine

Fabric:  Kona Cotton Solids on the front, print backing and binding

Batting:  Warm and White

Thread: Quilted with 50wt, 28wt, and 12wt cotton Aurifil in pink, green, and white

Binding:  Striped bias binding, cut 2″ wide, machine stitched to the front and hand finished on the back

Columbus Cityscape Block of the Month: Zoo

Columbus, Ohio is home to a world class zoo, and I am excited that July’s block of the month will focus on this amazing location!

Zoo Polar Bear Block

The zoo is a heavily themed location, with much of the architectural styling based on other locations around the world.  I knew that I didn’t want to copy anything that has already been reinterpreted, so I started thinking about what comes to mind for this particular zoo.  Near the top of the list is their highly successful (and ecologically responsible) polar bear breading program.  In late 2016, three polar bear cubs were born at the zoo, and the photos I used for this block were from the following summer.  The cubs are nearly grown up now!  I am pretty sure these photos are of Amelia Grey and her mother, Anana.

Polar Bears

I wanted a good profile angle for the quilt block, and this photo was the winner.  To start the design process, I added the photo to an AutoCad document, then traced the major sections of the bear to find the shapes that would best create the form in fabric.  Red lines tend to show up well on most photographs.

Polar Bear Design Process

In the quilt the polar bear is in the top left corner, so she can overlook the city!  The pattern for this block is available exclusively from Dabble and Stitch in Columbus, Ohio.  I will also be doing a free demonstration of paper piecing for this block Sunday, July 8, 2018 at 1pm at the shop.

Quilt

You can find out more about the polar bears at the Columbus Zoo by reading about the four cubs born at the zoo.  This article talks a lot about Nora, the first cub born at the zoo, but they also talk about the three cubs born in 2016.  There is also a lot of good information about polar bears in general.

Beautiful Ohio Row by Row

The international shop hop, Row by Row, starts tomorrow!  This is the third year I have designed the row for one of my local quilt shops, Dabble and Stitch, which is located in Columbus, Ohio.  The patterns for all blocks in the Row by Row are available for free at participating shops, and kits are for sale if you would like to use the same fabrics as the sample blocks.  This year’s theme is “Sew Musical.”

Beautiful Ohio Finished

The official state song for Ohio is “Beautiful Ohio,” and this song is the starting point for the row.  I located the sheet music for the song, and placed a circle over each note for the signature phrase.  When these notes are connected they formed the shape of the rolling hills of central Ohio.

Beautiful Ohio detail 1

Simple foundation paper piecing is used to construct the main portion of the block, and the circles and wording are added with applique.  I chose to use needle turn applique, but I included additional lines on the templates for raw edge applique, so each person can choose which process to use.

Beautiful Ohio detail 2

“Sew Musical” was a particularly challenging theme since music is experienced mostly through your sense of hearing and quilting is a visual and tactile medium.  The quilting stitches provided an opportunity to add much needed movement to the block.  A spiral of quilting emanates from each circle, and once the spirals intersect, echo stitching completes the machine quilting.  To add a different rhythmic feel to the piece, large stitch hand quilting is added between lines of machine stitching.  Several colors of thread in 12wt and 28wt were used to complete the project.

Beautiful Ohio back detail

Facings finish the edges of the sample block.  Since this block captures just a single phrase of the song, I wanted to allow the lines of the design to continue without a visual frame.

Beautiful Ohio back

Quilt Stats

Title:  Beautiful Ohio

Size: 9″ x 36″

Techniques:  Foundation Paper Piecing, Needle Turn Applique

Quilting:  Machine echo quilting using a walking foot on a Bernina 1008 domestic and large stitch hand quilting

Fabric:  Assorted cotton prints and solids

Batting:  Hobbs Tuscany Wool

Thread: Quilted with 50wt, 28wt, and 12wt cotton Aurifil in multiple colors

Binding:  Faced with print matching the quilt backing

Bonus!

Here are the blocks I have designed in previous in previous years.  Both patterns are still available through Dabble and Stitch.

2016 Theme:  Home Sweet Home

Columbus Skyline

Quilted Columbus Skyline Row Mini

2017 Theme: On the Go!

Lane Avenue Bridge

Lane Ave Bridge Full

Give and Take

Curated Quilts magazine issues a mini quilt challenge for each issue, and I love to see all of the amazing submissions.  Until now I have never contributed an entry, but I enjoyed making Synthesized Slivers so much, I was eager to participate in another challenge.

Give and Take front

Curated quilts provided a theme of Connections/Improv and a color palette which included cream, yellow, mustard yellow, navy, moss green, and grey.  We could use as many or as few of these colors as we liked, and I ended up using all of the colors except for cream.  Navy, grey, and mustard yellow are represented in the fabrics, and the quilting done in navy, grey, moss green, and yellow.

Give and Take detail 2

With the theme of connections in mind, I wanted to use roughly equal amounts of grey and navy fabrics with gear-like wedges intersecting where they meet.  When cogs come together, they set off a series of reactions that is greater than either component on its own.

Give and Take detail 1

The quilting is dense matchstick stitching that both echos the pieced designs and integrates additional curves.  The majority of the navy and grey sections are quilted in coordinating 50wt thread.  For areas that needed extra emphasis I used 12wt green and 40wt yellow thread.

Give and Take back

Quilt Stats

Title:  Give and Take

Size: 12″ x 12″

Techniques:  Machine Piecing, Improvisational Piecing

Quilting:  Matchstick echo quilting using a walking foot on a Bernina 1008 domestic

Fabric:  Assorted solids and one print by Carolyn Friedlander

Batting:  Hobbs Tuscany Wool

Thread: Quilted with 50wt, 40wt, and 12wt cotton Aurifil in four colors

Binding:  Faced with navy solid matching the quilt backing