Tu-Na Quilts: February Bee Blocks and the Postage Saga

February sure went fast! I’ve been busy with entertaining company, baking pies, sightseeing, and beginning my training on my village sewing group’s longarm quilting machine. Imagine my surprise when I looked at the calendar and I found it to be the last day of the month and those bee blocks had not yet been sewn and had to be mailed that very day. I immediately put foot to the pedal (sewing machine one that is) and turned out some real cute ones. I wanted to keep them all but since I left them until the last minute again with no time to sew any others I had to bid them farewell, squash them in their envelopes and give them to my husband to deliver to the post office.

Now here’s where the story gets interesting. If you read last month’s bee block post here, you may remember that I had quite a bit of discrepancy in the postal rates of almost identical size blocks in identical size envelopes (legal envelope) packed the identical way. February’s blocks proved even more interesting.

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This log cabin block went to Colette in Texas. She wanted scrappy logs made with a true red and not an orangey/red. For some reason, I had difficulty finding a true red but with help from Melva ( Melva Loves Scraps) and my mom and cousin, I think I pulled it off. We could use any block for the center that was bright, happy and makes us smile. Tulips make me happy.

I had two blocks ready in their envelopes as my husband rushed out the door shortly after noontime on February 28th to do some errands. I figured I’d have him mail those two just in case I couldn’t get the other one done. He called me after this visit to the post office and had me guess what each cost to mail. “The one to Australia must have been over $5.00,” I said. “I just went up to the attendant and said ‘regular first class mail’ so the one to Texas cost 70 cents and the one to Australia $1.15,” he replied. I stood there with my mouth open. I know it makes no sense at all. But wait. The story isn’t over.

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Inside Addition went to Susan in Australia. The pattern was initially written for an 8″ unfinished block but Susan adjusted the pattern to be 13″ unfinished. She wanted this block to be monochromatic using mid to dark tones. Since I work with a limited stash here, I used the best I could find to make it work. I think it turned out well.

While he was gone, I completed the third block and had it ready for him to take out on his errands later in the afternoon. My husband enjoys a challenge, so he took the third envelope that was headed to California to see if he could get it as low as 70 cents again.

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Homebase went to Samantha in California. She requested blues or greens for the center.

It almost worked. The attendant initially charged him 70 cents but then decided to see if it fit into a slot. Unfortunately, it was too thick so she charged him 98 cents instead. By now you are probably scratching your head and thinking, how could this be that identical envelopes with approximately the same size blocks could vary so greatly in postage? We are wondering the same thing.

You can find a tutorial for the log cabin here and click printer friendly at the top to display it with pictures. You can find Susan’s adjusted pattern for Inside Addition here on the Bee Inspired Blog. Finally, the pattern for Homebase can be found here. Just in case you want to make some for yourself.

What I Learned Today:

  1. Obviously I didn’t learn my lesson last month; I still waited until the last day to work on my bee blocks. I will try to do better in March.
  2. Instead of thinking of March 31st as the absolute deadline, I am going to give myself March 15th as the deadline for bee blocks but then I’m helping with a bake sale on the 18th so I’ll make the new deadline the 20th.
  3. I get to pick out my block for April for one of the bees so people get to make some for me. But that requires me getting the March block done early for that bee group and sewing a sample block and writing a post about it ahead of time. March is going to be very busy.
  4. Give my husband the bee block envelopes to mail as he gets better rates than I do.
  5. Keep working on  trying to get the envelopes as flat as possible. I have to put the blocks inside a plastic bag inside the envelope. The problem is that I can’t get out all the air and keep it out.

Question: Do you have a postage story? What postal advice do you have for me?

Linking to Love Laugh Quilt for Monday Making and Beth at Cooking Up Quilts for Main Crush Monday (Buttons on the sidebar) and Design Wall at Patchwork Times.

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18 thoughts on “Tu-Na Quilts: February Bee Blocks and the Postage Saga

  1. JanineMarie

    I recently sent some blocks from the US to Canada. I asked the postal clerk to help me find the cheapest rate. She pointed me to a 10 1/2 by 16 inch “utility envelope” and said the most important thing was consistent flatness across the whole envelope and flexible in all directions. Instead of using a plastic bag, I used plastic wrap so I could squeeze the air out. Some people say to use clingy type plastic wrap, but I didn’t have any.) When I brought the envelope back to the PO, I got a different clerk. She wasn’t sure what to do and considered charging it as a package. Luckily the original clerk was there and guided her to charge it as a first class letter. I think it was 1.15. It looks like a lot of this is up to the discretion of the clerks. I think regulations for in the states are more restrictive, and maybe the tracking service and use of trucks adds to the cost here. Oh, one other thing–I think Sandra from mmmquilts.com has made her own envelopes from kraft paper, so that could save more on the packaging.

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  2. thedarlingdogwood

    You just never know with postage! I do find that which mail clerk you get makes a difference in a lot of things, sometimes including price. I can’t believe you got international for $1.15! Mine was $2.something, which I still considered pretty good.

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  3. Karen Goad

    Postage is crazy here in the states – I do believe it depends on who is waiting on you. I have paid so much for international that I am literally almost in shock at times LOL –

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  4. adreamandastitch

    I am very lucky that I have postage at my workplace. So, I can measure and weigh before it is all sealed and re-do it if I need to. I use a bit of plastic wrap and make it as even and flat as I can. I always make sure to avoid folding the block on the seams. Sometimes that seems natural to do, but if you adjust it so the fold is off to the side, then your block will be flatter.

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  5. Frieda Z

    If you will cut a very small slit in the plastic bag, it will lay flatter. Just needs to get rid of any extra air. If you can stay under 1/4 inch, you will get regular first class mail prices.

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  6. Nancy B.

    You can go to the USPS website–they have a postage calculator tab there. I always check that out at home, before I go into the PO. Great blocks. I’ve made inside addition–thanks for the link to the 13″ size. Love Homebase–neat block and neat fabrics/colors!

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  7. Lisa

    Well at least you get your bee blocks done in the right month. You are lucky that the mailing rates in the States are so low. They are way more expensive in Canada…especially if we send them to the States and I’m sure Australia would be over the top. Very nice blocks by the way.

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  8. Sandra

    It’s a crapshoot. What Janine said is correct: depends on the clerk, yes I have made my own envelope, and I use saran wrap or press n seal to squash every bit of air out. I also have started estimating the cost using usps.com before I go. That way I see my options, and I can see what constitutes a ‘package’ and I can be pro-active if they are being ridiculous. Great job on the blocks; I think you nailed the red, and good luck with your March (and April) deadlines/work! Actually regarding what Lisa says, I’ve found this year that the mailing rates in the US are pretty comparable to those in Canada, similar things we have about flattening stuff and getting the ‘right’ clerk!

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