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!

Synthesized Slivers

A few weeks ago, I came across a call for entries for the Modern Mini Quilt Challenge hosted by Quilt Expo.  It has been awhile since I have done a mini quilt, and I was feeling the need for a relatively quick finish, so I jumped in.  One of my friends has been giving me a hard time about my extreme dislike of brown fabric, so I decided this would be a good challenge to incorporate my least favorite color.

Synthesized Slivers front

My initial fabric pull centered around a stack of quilter’s denim made by Art Gallery Fabrics.  I had received the fat quarter bundle during QuiltCon 2017, and I had been waiting for the perfect project to come up.  I love the utilitarian texture the fabric has and the value shifts between fabrics were seamless.  I did add a few other fabrics in to serve as accent pieces.  These included a bright green solid, metallic linen, and a silk/cotton blend.

Synthesized Slivers Fabric Pull

I started the quilt by constructing small blocks in a variety of sizes using background fabrics in a range of colors and values.  The slivers of accent fabrics finish at 1/8″ wide.  I used a ruler to cut the slits in straight lines, but only actually measured to square up each block after the slivers were added.

Synthesized Slivers process

At this point, my friend saw the progress and informed me that tan is most definitely NOT Brown, even though I still insist that it is ;).  In keeping with the challenge, I went out and purchased a small cut of chocolate brown Kona.  There wasn’t a speck of true brown in any of my stash!

Synthesized Slivers quilt top

After constructing a few more blocks, I started putting everything together.  I think this is the most challenging part of the process, but this top came together, and only required a couple partial seams.

Synthesized Slivers with Monty

Monty is my cat that demands likes to be held constantly.  I was taking photos right after he had woken up from his first afternoon nap, and he really wanted my attention!  If you manage to look past the cat, you can see the back of the quilt top.  I made sure to press all of the sliver seam allowances toward the background to make the slivers recede a bit.

Synthesized Slivers back of quilt top with monty

This is a small quilt so I quickly pin basted it and selected six colors of Aurifil to match the background fabrics.

Synthesized Slivers thread choices

I wanted to accentuate the angles that are incorporated into the design, so I used echo quilting to highlight the design of each block.

Synthesized Slivers quilting detail

The back is the same bright green accent color used on the front of the quilt.  I like how the different thread colors add value shifts to the back of the quilt.  I didn’t want to frame the quilt in with a binding, so the edges are finished with facings to match the backing fabric.

Synthesized Slivers back

I am so glad that I made this quilt, and even I think the brown actually works in it!

Synthesized Slivers angled quilting detail

 

Quilt Stats

Title:  Synthesized Slivers

Size: 22″ x 19″

Techniques:  Machine Piecing, Improvisational Piecing

Quilting:  Echo quilting using a walking foot on a Bernina 1008 domestic

Fabric:  Art Gallery Quilter’s Denim, Kona Cotton, Metallic Blend, Silk/Cotton Blend

Batting:  Hobbs Tuscany Wool

Thread: Quilted with 50wt cotton Aurifil in six colors

Binding:  Faced with Kona Cotton matching the quilt backing

QuiltCon Judging Comments

One of the best parts of entering major quilt shows is receiving written comments on your quilts.  There are usually a mix of positive and negative remarks, and frequently quilts resonate differently with different people.  The comment sheets from QuiltCon are no exception, and I thought it may be interesting to share them here.  I can only imagine how challenging it is to judge a quilt show like this, and I really appreciate all of the work that goes into the process.

QuiltCon 2018 Collage

When your box of quilts is returned, they are wrapped in clear plastic bags to protect them during shipping, and a packing slip is toward the top of the package.  This year, only three of my four quilts were returned immediately, since Pivoted Plaid will be traveling.

QuiltCon 2018 Judging Sheets page 1

The cards which hang next to each quilt are also included in the package.

Complementary Composition

Complementary Composition full

 

Complementary Composition Description Card

QuiltCon 2018 Judging Sheets page 2

 

Pivoted Plaid

This one has a judges comment sheet, but the quilt and description card are traveling this year.

Pivoted Plaid

QuiltCon 2018 Judging Sheets page 3

 

Overlay

Overlay front view

Overlay Description Card

QuiltCon 2018 Judging Sheets page 5

Lateral Ascension

Lateral Ascension full

This quilt had an extra special bonus- a hand crafted ribbon!

Lateral Ascension Description Card

QuiltCon 2018 Judging Sheets page 4

QuiltCon Highlights

QuiltCon 2018 ended on Sunday, and I wish that I had been able to attend to see so many of my quilt-y friends.  I thoroughly enjoyed seeing all of the photos and videos which were posted during the week, and it was wonderful to be able to see most of the show virtually.  Thank you so much to everyone who took the time to post during the show!  If you haven’t seen many photos of the show, I suggest looking at the Instagram hashtags #quiltcon2018 and #quiltcon to see most of the quilts on display.  Since I wasn’t there, my personal highlights will be pretty short.

1. Even though I wasn’t there, four of my quilts were able to attend in my place!

QuiltCon 2018 Collage

2.  Lateral Ascension received a third place award in the minimalism category!  I have a tendency to struggle with minimalism, so this was a big accomplishment on a personal level.

Lateral Ascension full

3.  Pivoted Plaid is going to be included in the Best of QuiltCon 2018 Traveling Exhibit!  It is thrilling that this quilt will be shared around the country in the coming year!

Pivoted Plaid

So who’s ready for QuiltCon 2019?  Nashville is an easy drive from here, so I will definitely be there next year, along with a lot of my local Modern Quilt Guild!

 

Complementary Composition: A Michael Miller Challenge Quilt

Complementary Composition grew out of the 2017 Michael Miller/Modern Quilt Guild Challenge.  This is the third year I have participated in the challenge, and this is the first time that my challenge quilt has been selected for participation at QuiltCon.

Complementary Composition full

The fabric for the challenge is Our Yard, and it is super cute!  This actually proved to be a greater challenge to me, because I rarely make quilts that I can describe as cute or even pretty.  I love looking at quilts that are cute, pretty, darling, charming, etc., but I don’t tend to create work that I would use these terms to describe.  Now the question became- How do I incorporate these charming prints into my personal aesthetic?

Michael Miller Challenge Fabric 2017

When I am uncertain how to proceed with a design, I tend to turn to the elements and principles of design.  While the elements and principles of design never exist purely on their own, I find that sometimes narrowing my focus in the initial stages of a design helps to refine my overall vision for the project.  In this case, I initially focused on the element of color and the principle of scale.

There are so many bright colors in the challenge prints that it allows for interpretation in selecting a dominant color palette.  Blue and Orange has always been my favorite complementary color scheme (two colors opposite each other on the color wheel), and I thought that the vibrant combination would honor the energy evoked in the fabric prints.  To add visual dimension, I selected a lighter and darker version of solid color.  I was fortunate enough to make my initial fabric purchase for the quilt while in Paducah, KY at Hancock’s of Paducah.  They carry most of the Michael Miller solids, so I was able to make my color choices with the fabrics right in front of me.  When purchasing solids for a project, I try to photograph the ends of the bolts just in case I need to order more, which did happen during this project.

Michael Miller Solids

The official challenge only required that two of the prints in the line be incorporated into the finished quilt, but as a personal challenge, I wanted to use each one included in the bundle that was sent out.  In order to make this work with my aesthetic and the color scheme of the quilt, scale was going to be an extremely important aspect of the design.  The most graphic print in the bundle is the black, grey, and white print which is the most closely aligned to my aesthetic.  This would be the dominant print.  The black and white leaf print on the mustard and aqua backgrounds is closely associated with the striped print, and I liked that the spacing of the print give the eye a place to rest in the background and allows it to work with the solid fabrics surrounding it.  I knew that this print was a prime candidate for fussy cutting to highlight the leaf image.

Complementary Composition fussy cut detail

The busiest prints were going to be the most challenging to work in, so they were going to be used in the smallest pieces.  The 1/8″ slivers of these fabrics create energetic lines and break up large expanses of the solid fabrics.

Complementary Composition Piecing Detail

This quilt is constructed using a structured improv technique.  The pieces are measured and trimmed as they are sewn, but there is no predetermined design for the piece.  I started the process by constructing blocks loosely based on Log Cabin/Courthouse Steps style blocks.  Many of the blocks are built around a fussy cut square or a simply pieced block.  As the blocks were completed, I added them to the design wall.

Complementary Composition Design Wall

Once I decided the blocks were balancing within the design, I filled in the open areas with strips of fabric.

Complementary Composition Echo Quilting

For the quilting of the piece, I wanted to emphasize the linear qualities of the piecing by using a mix of vertical, horizontal, and diagonal straight line quilting as well as echo quilting.  The echo quilting highlights a visually contained shape while the vertical lines give a sense of strength that is balanced by the calming force of the horizontal lines.  Mixing in strong diagonal lines gives a greater energy and a sense of the unexpected to the overall design.

Complementary Composition Use of Challenge Fabric

The binding is a mix of solids with just a small section of striped fabric to draw the eye back toward the center of the quilt.

Quilt Stats:

Title:  Complementary Composition

Size: 63″ x 69″

Techniques:  Machine Piecing, Structured Improvisational Piecing, Fussy Cutting

Quilting:  Linear Quilting using an A-1 Longarm equipped with digital channel locks that can be set to any angle

Fabric:  Michael Miller Our Yard Prints and Cotton Couture Solids

Batting:  Hobbs 80/20

Thread:  Pieced using Gutermann Mara 100, Quilted with 50wt Aurifil

Binding:  Bias binding in a mix of solids and striped print cut at 2″ wide, machine stitched to the front, hand finished on the back