September 20, 2014

Shipping Quilts

Over the last couple of months, I've had quilts arrive from customers in some pretty badly battered boxes.  So I decided to write some guidelines for packing for safe shipping.

Here's one battered box.  It's quite crumpled and almost bashed in.  Also, one digit was missing from my house number on the address label.

Here's the box that really scared me and prompted me to write this post.  This quilt came so very close to being lost or damaged!  One side was badly ripped and one edge (front left in the photo below) was totally unsealed and open.  Thankfully, everyone who handled this along the way was careful enough to keep the quilt from falling out and getting lost.

In addition, the plastic bag that held the quilt was not sealed.  Had the open box encountered any precipitation, the quilt could have easily gotten wet.  Had this happened at the beginning of its journey, it could have been starting to mildew by the time it got to my house.

Here are some better ways to pack and hopefully avoid these problems.

1. Enclose the quilt in plastic for protection in case of box damage.  Make sure the bag is closed and sealed.

(And just to be very clear, while plastic bags are necessary for shipping and other kinds of transport, they should not be used for full time storage.  The plastic can catch condensed moisture from humid air, and cause mildew damage.)

2. Include (outside the plastic bag) a piece of paper with sender's and recipient's names and addresses.

3. When choosing a box, use a new or undamaged box.

4. Choose a box that closely fits the quilt.  If there is very much empty space, as you see here, fill the extra space with packing peanuts, crumpled paper, or the like.  It's also possible to cut a box down to proper size - takes time and lots of tape, but possible.

I'm guessing that the damage to both the boxes pictured here was probably caused by being under heavier boxes without having enough inside the box to support the weight.

5. Fully tape all seams and edges.  This ensures that the box stays closed, and adds to weatherproofing.  Use lots of tape, including several inches to securely grab over the edges and around the corners, unlike the minimal taping in the photo below.

6. For even sturdier protection, put the boxed quilt inside another slightly larger box.  Fill the excess space with packing material.  Securely tape both boxes.

7. If you don't want to do all this yourself, shippers will do the packing for you (for a fee, of course).

8. Proofread the address.  Or if you got the address in a email, copy it out and machine print the label to avoid transcription errors.

9. Re: insurance.  I have been told, by UPS, that buying shipping insurance for a box that you have packed only covers the case of a lost box.  If you want coverage for damage during shipping, you need to have them do the packing.

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