Friday, June 19, 2009

Shipping News

This box was not only ripped front and back, it was open when it arrived. The plastic shopping bags loosely wrapped around the quilt had come apart, leaving the quilt exposed and vulnerable to theft and damage.

Sending quilts to shows or publishers can be scary, for the quilter and the recipient. The horror stories you may have heard about quilts being lost, stolen or damaged are most likely true. This is one time when overdoing the safety angle makes excellent sense. We've written up the best practices in shipping quilts, so our authors and contestants can rest assured their treasures arrive at AQS safely. If you have additional suggestions, we'd love to hear them and will pass them on.

AQS Shipping Information

We know how much your quilts mean to you, so we’ve compiled this checklist of best practices when sending us (or anyone) your quilts.

Mail or ship them to:

(the contact name you were given on your entry form or email)
5801 Kentucky Dam Road
Paducah, KY 42003
(270) 898-7903

Email a tracking number as soon as you have it and let us know when we should expect your quilts to:

If you don't take any other measure suggested here, at least sew a label with, at a minimum, your name, the quilt’s name, and your address and phone number onto each quilt.

For quilts larger than 30” x 30”, sew a 4-inch sleeve across the back at the top. Be sure the sleeve is set down far enough not to show above the quilt when hung.

Enclose each quilt in some sort of plastic bag that you can close or tape shut to prevent water damage should the box rip or tear. Ziploc makes large-quilt size bags. Do not use anything that might be mistaken for a trash bag!

Include a color photo of the quilt in the bag with your name and contact information and why you're sending the quilt to us - the name of your proposal, book or magazine article or the contest or event you're entering.

Enclose a packing list with the box that includes your name and contact information and a list of the quilts in the box. Do not include any indications of your quilts’ values.

If you are concerned about insuring your quilts, have them appraised, and use a fine arts rider on your home owner's insurance rather than buying the shipper's insurance.

Do not pack your quilts too tightly. We have to use a sharp blade to open most boxes and the danger of damaging a quilt stuffed into a container is real. Consider adding a layer of cardboard on top of the bagged quilts as a safety barrier.

Do not indicate anywhere on the outside of the box that it includes quilts. Do not use the word “quilt” anywhere inside or outside, including the shipping label. Use “AQS,“ not “American Quilter’s Society.”

Send your quilts early in the week so they do not sit around a warehouse or loading dock over the weekend, or send them overnight so they arrive here by 2:00 pm CST on a Friday.

If you are sending multiple quilts or multiple boxes of quilts, consider packing them either one quilt to a box and sending them on subsequent days, or put two or three quilts in a box and send the several boxes on subsequent days. This prevents having all of your quilts on the one truck that gets into an accident or burns down in a warehouse fire.

If this seems like overkill, it isn’t. The condition in which many boxes reach us is terrible, and quilts have been known to get wet, become damaged or disappear in transit.

See additional good information about shipping sent in by Pat from Montana in the comments section. Thanks, Pat!

We hope you will take these precautions and we look forward to seeing your quilts.


AQSpublishing said...

I just read your article about shipping quilts and I’d like to add some information. (I worked at a major shipping company for over 25 years, over half of which was in the package handling areas).
Do not go cheap on your packing materials, especially the boxes. Corrugated cardboard weakens with use; buy a decent box. Never, ever use masking tape; it is not strong enough to hold the package together. Again, buy some decent shipping tape. No string! It gets caught in conveyors. No brown paper wrap; again it can get caught in conveyors and ripped off.
As you stated, a label should also be inside the package, and I always put mine in a plastic baggie. If the package gets wet, the label will still be readable.
Do not ‘over stuff’ the package – use the right size box. Packages should be able to withstand a four foot drop on the corner of the box without bursting. However, the contents should not shift around in the package. Other packages will probably stacked on top of it, and empty space can cause the package to sag and break open.
Although literally millions of packages are delivered safely and on time each day, there are circumstances beyond the control of anyone that can damage or destroy a package. Remember that the ‘money back guarantee’ or ‘insurance’ will only reimburse you for the cost of shipping and the article. You will have to have proof of value. If something is not replaceable (great grandma’s wedding quilt that has been handed down from generation to generation) do not ship it. There is not a value that can be put on something like that.
Thanks for a great article,
Pat Hierl
Whitefish, MT

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