How to Ship a Quilt

From time to time you might have an occasion where you need to transport your quilts. Perhaps you want to send one as a gift to a friend or family member or maybe enter it into a quilt show or competition. Or perhaps you are simply moving house and want to take your quilts with you!

Whatever the occasion, there are several precautions that you can take to help ensure that your quilt arrives safely and in one piece. Always take a moment to consider the “what if” scenarios for things that may go wrong during shipping and take steps to avoid them if you can. This list of suggestions should help you get started thinking about the best way to ship your quilt.

How to pack a quilt for shipping

The first thing you need to consider is how you intend to pack your quilt for transport. There are two main methods that experienced quilters tend to recommend:

  1. Ship your quilt in a box - Use a strong and sturdy box of a suitable size that is made of a hard and durable material that cannot be easily crushed. Make sure that the box is large enough such that you minimise the amount of times the quilt has to be folded to fit in and ensure that it is high enough that you don’t have to force the quilt down to close the lid.If you need to tape up the lid of the box then it is a good idea to cover the top of your quilt with a spare piece of cardboard in order to protect the quilt from accidental damage if a knife is used to open the box.Always make sure to tape up all the edges and seams of the box, even if it looks strong enough as is. This can give extra structural strength to the box and prevent the seams from getting caught on other items during transit and causing the box to fall apart.Also, always make sure you use proper packing tape to seal the box as other types of tape such as masking tape are often not strong enough for the task or may come undone during transit.
  2. Ship your quilt in a tube - Alternatively, you may be able to roll your quilt and ship it inside a suitable large and sturdy shipping tube. The main advantage of this method is that you can avoid having to fold the quilt at all. This is desirable as it will help to preserve the condition of all quilts and it can be almost essential for vintage or antique quilts.It is important to properly seal the ends of the tube once the quilt is rolled up and placed inside. Use packing tape and seal each end using a large cross pattern with ample tape such that the end is well secured.One drawback with using a tube is that most postal and courier services are best at transporting regular box-shaped items. Boxes tend to stack neatly in delivery trucks and planes whereas tubes can be awkward to handle as they tend to roll around and more easily get accidentally misplaced. Also, being a tube the chances are that extra human handling will be required during handling and we all know that humans are much better than machines at making mistakes and you could end up with your quilt going to the wrong place, or worse, losing it altogether!

Regardless of which shipping method you choose to use, when packing your quilt it is always a good idea to first wrap it in a cotton sheet or pillow case to protect the fabric and then wrap it in plastic to protect from accidental water or liquid damage before putting it in the box or tube.

Handy hints for shipping your quilt

It goes without saying that the address of the destination should be clearly and visibly marked on the outside of the package in large, legible print. It is also a good idea to include your originating address (as the sender) on the inside of the box in case the destination cannot be reached and the package must be returned to sender. Make sure the address is firmly attached to the inside of the box or the tube as if it is a separate piece of paper it may get lost when the box is opened.

When marking the package it is a good idea to always describe the contents as “textiles” or “bedding” instead of “quilt”. This is particularly important when valuable antique or classic vintage quilts are being transported, as these tend to attract the attention of thieves!

If your quilt is of particular value, always make sure to get your quilt professionally appraised well before you intend to ship it. Use the appraisal to get appropriate insurance cover for the shipping, its return (if it needs to be returned) and for the entire duration that it will be away (for example if it is going to a show or competition).

If you intend to take your quilt as luggage with you when you travel, it is always a good idea to take it on board the aircraft with you as carry on luggage. Items in the aircraft hold tend to be treated quite roughly (just look at the condition of most suitcases on the baggage carousel!) and it is not uncommon for luggage to end up in the wrong place or get lost altogether!

Finally, if you are sending your quilt by post it is generally a good idea to always pay more for the express delivery option. Packages that are sent express tend to spend less time in storage and transit and hence have less chance of being damaged. Always record the tracking number of the package so you can chase it up should it get lost but don’t rely entirely on it as not all tracking systems are foolproof so make sure you label the package clearly!