How to Pack Your Quilt Art for Safe Shipping

Exquisite quilt art arrives at our offices every day. As a quilter myself, I know how scary it can be to wrap one of my "babies" up and ship it off to a magazine, client, or venue.

We do our utmost to make sure quilts from our contributors are well cared for while they are in our hands and make it safely home again. We've received and returned just about every size and shape of quilt or fiber construction there is, so we know the best ways to pack and ship them.

jamie fingal and leslie jenison share their fiber art and quilt show prep secrets
Quilt artists Jamie Fingal (left) and Leslie Jenison (right) are friends
and collaborators on many exhibits featuring quilt art.

If you're ready to ship one of your fabric "children" to a new destination, here are some tips we've learned about packing from our experience and that of our contributors:

Keep it from crushing. Yes, fiber is usually soft, but fabric can crease and embellishments can be crushed. One way to prevent crushing and creasing is to roll the quilt around a foam pool noodle, with the backing fabric on the outside. The noodle (a long floating device) stabilizes the quilt and keeps the quilt from flattening. It's important, though, to place acid-free tissue between the noodle and the quilt and then wrap the outside of the rolled quilt in acid-free tissue as well.

Acid-free tissue protects the fabric from discoloration and from any moisture that might collect during shipping.

You can also fold the quilt, but be sure to tuck scrunched pieces of acid-free tissue within the folds to cushion them from creasing. As with the rolled quilt, wrap the exterior in acid-free tissue as well.

For quilts that can't be folded, such as mixed-media quilts or paper quilts, many artists secure the quilt flat between two pieces of foam core (pinned to the board, if possible), with the board taped on the sides. This method works best for small or mini quilts. 

Protect your quilted art from outside moisture (think of your shipping box being dropped in a mud puddle) by encasing the quilt in a plastic bag or two (depending on the size), sealed with duct tape.

Enclose a label with "ship to" and "return to" information. This precaution will help your quilt find its way home if the exterior label is damaged or falls off. It's best to tape the label to the plastic bag.

Choose a box that fits the quilt. Too big and the quilt will slide around. Too small, and you have crushing and creasing. If the container is a little too big, fill the extra space with bubble wrap or plastic grocery bags. Try to avoid foam peanuts-they cling to everything and are hard to dispose of. Venues (and editors) hate them.

Now that you know how to safely pack a quilt for shipping, how about tips on how to enter your quilt into a show or get it ready for exhibition?

In "Quilting Arts TV" series 1500, seasoned art quilters and exhibitors Leslie Tucker Jenison and Jamie Fingal share their insights on entering and curating quilt exhibitions. These two have created several unique exhibits and can teach you all their strategies for success.

P.S. Do you have quilt shipping tips? Please share them with the community in the comments below.





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