It’s TIME to mail the Star Chain blocks

Posted by on April 2, 2014 in housekeeping, sent and received | 6 comments

If you made and posted blocks in March, you should have received email from me yesterday with the mailing directions.  If you didn’t get it or found a mistake in the mailing info sheet, please let me know ASAP.

Each month I ask you to mail promptly and tell you how much easier it is for me when you do so.  When I have to chase blocks, sometimes for MONTHS after they should have been mailed, it really takes a lot of the joy out of the Block Lotto for me.  I do believe that the longer you wait to mail blocks, the easier it makes for you to wait even longer.

Even though I mentioned it both in the sneak peek email that went out in February for the March block and in the March 1 announcement post with the guidelines for the Star Chain blocks, there has been some push-back about sending out individual blocks.  Here are my reasons for that decision:

  1. Because winners would receive a target sized set of only 16 blocks, I wanted the blocks to be as diverse as possible.
  2. My gut feeling was that you could mail one block in an envelope as a “letter,” but two or more would be considered by the US Postal Service as a “parcel” and would be mailed at a more expensive rate.

I had no way of knowing that most of the March winners would be outside the US, which means that almost everyone will be paying international postage this time.  I feel that I should remind everyone in the US that everyone NOT in the US pays international postage almost EVERY month.  I LOVE that we are an international group–in March, for example, nearly one third of the quilters who made Star Chain blocks live outside the US.  That said,  I completely understand if someone decides this activity isn’t for them because of the cost of postage.

Each month, when I send out the mailing info, I include a link to an (albeit old) blog post with mailing tips.  I just re-read it myself and find that I prepare and mail my blocks pretty much the same way as when I put that post together 5 years ago. If you have any new ideas about mailing blocks to share, please share in a comment and I’ll include them in an updated mailing tips post.

Ready to Mail

I usually send a block folded inside a letter in a brown paper (AKA kraft) envelope. My envelopes, when filled,  weighed between 1.2 and 1.4 ounces.

  • I use a #11 size envelope-the largest envelope considered to be a regular envelope by the USPS.
  • I carefully fold (and press) the block(s) to be as flat as possible and fill the envelope. For the March block, I made a point of folding it so none of the folds were along seams to keep it very slim.


Those are the things I can control.  Unfortunately, none of us in the US can control the arbitrary interpretation of the rules by individual postal clerks … though I will ask questions and push back when something feels wrong.

Today the postal clerk accepted my four envelopes (going to Mariella in Mexico, Dagmar in Germany, Charlene in Canada and Dena in Virginia) as “envelopes” and not “parcels” which meant that they travelled at the lower rate and didn’t require customs paperwork, but insisted they were thicker than 1/4 inch and therefore were “large envelopes.”  Since I didn’t notice until after the postage was paid, I knew he wasn’t going to back down and admit he was wrong–there was only one clerk working at the counter and he’s the ornery one 🙂

Even as large envelopes, my total was less than $10 for 4 blocks.  I do believe it should/could have been less. Curiously, the ornery postal clerk told me that the one to Canada would likely take the longest (because of Canadian customs).

Note to self: Next time, pay attention that regular envelopes aren’t being billed as large BEFORE you pay.

… While we’re talking about mailing, I want to remind those that use Press-n-Seal plastic to wrap up their blocks to be sure to fold any raw edges inside.  If the plastic adheres to the raw edges of your block, it sometimes takes a piece of that seam allowance with it when it’s removed and make your blocks unusable by the winner who receives them.


  1. It is not only in the States that you get variation in postal charges. A couple of years ago I thought I would have to pull out of Block Lotto as I took my envelopes to a different post shop and they tried to charge me almost triple the normal amount which would have put it beyond an affordable hobby. they told me that the US had changed their policy and anything containing items like our blocks had to be sent parcel rate. Fortunately I kept my envelopes and took them to my usual post shop and have had no problem since sending them as envelopes and not parcels.

    I love the fact that my little blocks have been posted all round the world and even when sending 3 envelopes per month it costs less than $10 NZ.

  2. Gulp! I didn’t realize press and seal was that destructive to the blocks! I prepared my blocks last night with regular plastic wrap and that worked fine. I folded them crooked to avoid any seams landing on top of each other. The flatter the better. I have been using regular business size envelopes, and so far there haven’t been any problems.

    • That I know of.

  3. I use a regular business envelope and by now my postal clerks know to send it the cheapest way but at first, every envelope had to be measured to be sure it fit the regulations. For the US, a couple of stamps is usually enough. This one block to Mariella in Mexico was $1.49. If I didn’t put a post card in, it would have been less. Pretty cheap fun.

  4. From Canada it has not cost more than $7.00 yet and most months I do the Maximum Blocks. They do seem to take a few weeks to arrive in the States but, not always. to date they have all arrived.

  5. Thanks for the tips and reminders on how to mail. I don’t think I have EVER thought a thing about how much it cost to mail
    my blocks. I know all about the size envelopes and parcel price stuff and try to keep the cost down as best I can, no point in being stupid about it. My dear hubby does all the mailing for me and he has NEVER complained about the mailing or the cost of it. He too enjoys the whole workings of the Block Lotto and seeing where they are mailed and when I win seeing who and where they came from. I know all the rules and what is expected of me to be a participant in the Lotto and if and when I think I can’t follow or keep up with my commitment or obligation to this group I will politely drop out.
    Thanks for all your hard work on this blog and Lotto Sophie!

Social media & sharing icons powered by UltimatelySocial