Monday, October 24, 2016

The Inside Scoop on Lower Postage Rates

Being the daughter of a lifelong USPS employee, I've learned a thing or two about mailing letters and packages. For example, did you know that there is such a thing as a book rate (formally known as media mail)? Yep! Of course, some restrictions apply but it's often a rate that many people don't know about.

So let's talk about mailing out your blocks and how to get the cheapest rate possible. I've posted about this method before, but I want to revisit it in more detail. Here are my 2 not-so-secret weapons: Glad Press'n Seal and 6"x9" manilla envelopes.

The key to cheaper postage is getting your package as flat as possible. The envelope shouldn't be padded. What's important about this envelope is the size. A 6"x9" envelope is considered a standard letter size, according to the US Postal Service (see this handy chart).

Now in order for it to ship at the letter rate, it cannot be thicker than 1/4." That is where the Press'n Seal can work miracles. Unfortunately, I don't think that this is readily available outside the US. First, I rip off a fairly large piece of it and lay it sticky side up. I include a small note that has the name and address of the recipient, face down.

Next, I fold up my block to a size that will fit in the envelope. I find that you can get it flatter by folding it with the seams on the outside.

I carefully fold the block up in the Press'n Seal, pushing out as much air as possible. I then use tape to secure it.

And here is how thin I was able to get it:

I don't live near a post office, so I always mail my domestic blocks from home. How do I know how many stamps to put on it? I use my kitchen scale to determine the weight of the envelope and go to this USPS site to calculate the postage. Typically, it will require 2 stamps to send a block.

International blocks require a trip to the post office, but I still package the envelopes the exact same way and if you keep it to the letter size, you shouldn't be paying more than $6 to send it overseas.

And there you have it! I hope this helps to reduce your shipping costs.

October Blocks for Sherry

Here are 2 blocks for Sherry.  Easy block after looking at tutorial.  Spent more time worried about getting the colors right. Hope you like them. I am interested in seeing how what this looks like all put together in a finished quilt. Looking forward to seeing next months block which will be our last one of the year.

Also, crashed Hive 9 for Mary and made her some purple and green blocks.  Spent more time picking out material than sewing together 9-patches. So simple, next thing I know I had 4 blocks picked out. Enjoy Mary.


Saturday, October 22, 2016

Hive 1 Block for Tanyia

The Spinwheel Block was quick and easy!   Seeing the other blocks, I can't wait to see them playing together.

October Hive 8 The Grand Finale

Sniff Sniff, sigh. Hive 8 is finishing up early due to a drop out, so this is my last block of the year.  It was a great one, though!  I had a good time choosing fussy cuts and reminiscing with my scraps.  I hope to see all of you next year, maybe even in the same hive, wouldn't that be neat?!?  -Lee

October Hive 7

Finally finished, this block scare me at first but it went together very easy. Enjoy.will be mailed out on Monday

It's All About the Blocks!

As we get closer to sign-ups for 2017, I wanted to take some time to talk about blocks.  All of the specific rules and expectations can be found here, but here is a recap:
  • Your block can be no larger than 16" finished (16.5" unfinished)
  • The block should take no longer than 1.5 hours to make
  • The block cannot require specialty tools in order to make unless they are provided by the queen.

Now let's get to the fun part - selecting a block to make! Sometimes, that can be the hardest part of participating in Stash Bee. Also, selecting the right type of block can make all the difference in a successful bee quilt. If this is your first time participating in a bee, here are some helpful tips:

  • Keep it simple.  Blocks that require precise points and seams that need to match up perfectly can sometimes lead to frustration when it comes time to assemble all of your blocks. 
  • Think ahead - to sash or not to sash.  One way to eliminate slight variations in block size is to add sashing to your blocks once you receive them. That can also eliminate the need to line up several seam.
  • Select a block that can be trimmed down.  It is absolutely okay to ask your bee-mates to send the block untrimmed. Here are 2 examples.  Sarah's July block was a string block that was made larger so that she could trim it down to the size she wanted. 

    The disappearing 4-patch block that Bonnie requested in March is another example of a block that can easily be trimmed down to any size: 
  • Colors may vary.   Requesting very specific colors can lead to disappointment. Everyone perceives and interprets color differently, so one person's aqua is another person's turquoise. That's why it is better to make broader color selections. Fabric examples from your own stash are helpful but remember you may not ask your bee-mates to use a specific fabric line/color.
  • Block pattern must be free and not copyrighted.   You may only use block patterns that are free-of-charge to the public. If it's in a for-purchase-only magazine or book, it cannot be used, even if you modify the dimensions for a smaller/bigger block. Likewise, If it's from an online source such as Craftsy or Etsy and has a price attached to it, then it too cannot be used.

Block Resources

Looking for a good bee block? Check out these online resources. You will also be able to find these under the Resources & Tips tab at the top of the page.

The Bee HIve - this is a great series by Alyse from Blossom Heart Quilts.

Piece N Quilt - blog by Natalia Bonner & Kathleen Whiting that has some great block tutorials

Fresh Lemons - blog owner Faith has some great tutorials on techniques and blocks.

What about you? Know of any great bee block resources? Please share them in the comments below and I'll add them to our list.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Hive 9 block for Mary from Allison

Making these big nine patch blocks for Mary was super easy and super fun. I love your color choices, Mary, and I can't wait to see everything when it's cut and put together.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Forest Blocks for Susan

I had a great time making these simple blocks and making up a story of a walk in the woods. I live in the mountains very close to the woods, and chose colors that describe the trees and fungi I see. Pine, Fir, Tamarack that are a deciduous larch with needles, Blue Spruce, and Ponderosas. Growing on the fallen trees are fungi in bright orange colors: Chanterelles, witches' butter, wood ears, white lions' mane, and the delicious scented anise shelf mushrooms. Hanging from trees are fun lichens in colors from grey to sage to chartreuse. Overhead the sky is blue with grey clouds.

From Idaho to Washington with love
The super fun part of my story is that I am traveling to Seattle in 2 weeks for a FART (Fabric Acquisition Road Trip.) I am taking a 2 day workshop from freddy-moran, one of my long time bucket list dreams. And... I am going to meet Susan!!! Can't wait!! Photos to follow on my blog.

October squares for Hive 2

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Hive 3 - Zeppelin Block for Lauren

The more paper pieced blocks I make, the more I love the technique. Yes, it can be more time consuming but boy does it pay off. This is a fun block and I can't wait to see Lauren's finished quilt!
I'll get this in the mail this weekend.