Swapping 101: Return Shipping - Self Addressed, Stamped Envelopes

7:30:00 AM

Since I've been very busy lately being a Swap Mama, I thought I'd save myself a bit of work when it comes to sending out emails about information required with regards to swapping.

I'm posting this information not only for those who may be participating or thinking of participating in a fabric swap, but also for those who may be thinking of ever hosting a fabric swap on their blogs.

Hence, this new tutorial series.

I'm starting today with the topic of "Shipping" - i.e. - how do you ship your fabrics to me, how can you print your own shipping labels/buy your shipping online, how to calculate your postage costs, how to include a SASE envelope to get your fabrics back from your Swap Mama, and more.

Calculating the weight of your package
For accuracy's sake, weigh it. If you don't have a scale at home, most post offices have a scale off to the side of the counters you can pop in and use. Here is a *rough* estimate on how much your parcel may weigh (measurements don't include packaging supplies):

Fabric Measurement           (in yards)
Approximate Weight     (100% Quilting Cotton)
½
2.8 oz
¾
4.2 oz
1.0
5.6 oz
1.25
6.9 oz
1.50
8.5 oz
1.75
9.7 oz
2.0
11.1 oz
2.25
12.5 oz
2.25+
Over 13oz, must ship flat rate within U.S.

How to pack your fabrics (and what to include in your envelope)
In your envelope to your Swap Mama you should include:

  1. Your cut fabric (cut size based on swap rules) enclosed in a Zip-loc or water-tight bag
  2. Your SASE (self-addressed, stamped envelope (see below) - be it a stamped manila envelope or a pre-paid, flat rate envelope

When you're swapping fabrics, it's always nice if you send your fabrics in a water-tight, Zip-loc bag; this ensures that during shipment, your fabrics won't be damaged on their way to the Swap Mama. This also allows the Swap Mama to enclose your return fabrics in a Zip-loc, ensuring there won't be any damage to them in return.

Calculating your Shipping Costs (How many stamps do I need?)
To calculate your shipping costs, both too your Swap Mama, and from your Swap Mama, head over to

USPS.com

Under the Shipping a Package tab, select:

-- Calculate a Price

Destination:


  • for you sending your fabrics to your Swap Mama, this would be your Swap Mama's home country & address/Zip code
  • if you're calculating your swapped package's return price, this would be your home country & address/Zip code

Select a Flat Rate Service or Shape:

  • If you're sending in your own envelope, don't select "envelope" - select "Package"
  • If you're sending FRE (flat rate envelope), select the size of the envelope you're sending.

In the following screen, select your shipping service (flat rate type or First Class parcel)

Unfortunately, you're unable to purchase First Class (domestic) shipping on USPS.com, but this'll tell you how many stamps you'll need on your packages. If you're shipping Priority Flat Rate, you can purchase your shipping online, and, it's actually cheaper than buying it at the post office.

Note: **you cannot pre-purchase your return postage (i.e. the postage for the envelope from your Swap Mama back to you) online - you can purchase a $5.60 stamp at the post office to stick on your return flat rate envelope, though - or, stick $5.60 worth of postage on the FRE on the back flap of the envelope.** Also note that this $5.60 rate is for this sized envelope:
Cardboard, unpadded, 9.5" x 12.5" Priority Mail envelope: $5.60 flat rate
(rate as of August 2014).

In most areas, you can also schedule an at-home pickup for Priority Post mail - your post-person will pick up your package from your porch, front door, etc., when they come to drop your mail off. You choose how they pick it up - and it's free.

To schedule an online postal pick up, click {here}.

SASE: Self-addressed, stamped envelope
All swaps where you send your assigned fabrics to a swap mama will require that you pay for your return postage.

In some instances, for those within the US, where your return package will be over 13oz in weight, First Class USPS mail options are not available. Any package over 13oz within the US must be sent by Priority mail or the like.

In the instance where your return package will be under 13oz, you can include a SASE or "self-addressed, stamped envelope" for your Swap Mama to return your fabrics to you.

This is what your enclosed SASE should look like:

  1. You should ensure that you have enough postage/stamps on your envelope for your package; the amount of stamps will differ based on 
    1. the weight of your package
    2. which ZIP you're sending from (i.e. - your Swap Mama's ZIP since she'll be the one mailing it to you).
  2. Your name should be in the Recipient's and Sender's spot. If there is insufficient postage on your parcel, the USPS will know to return to you, but may hold your package and leave a delivery slip for you to go into your local post office to pay the difference. This ensures that your Swap Mama doesn't receive your package back if there is insufficient postage, as Swap Mamas are not responsible for postage costs.
When including a SASE flat rate envelope, you'll need to attach $5.60 in stamps to the envelope when you include it in your package (based on the envelope size pictured above - please verify rates for the specific envelope you choose).

Hopefully this tutorial has helped a bit, and please, if I've missed anything or if you have any questions, please leave a comment for me below!

(ETA: Thank you to Carla from Modern Bias for pointing out that you can't pre-purchase FR postage online for return shipping! awesome catch, Carla!)

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4 comments

  1. It's important to note that the post office will not accept dated postage for SASE because the date will be far in the past, which screws up their delivery and tracking. You MUST use stamps on a flat rate envelope or other non-dated postage. The tracking number will be put on when the swap mama takes them to the post office. You can buy 5.60 stamps for flat rate envelopes from the counter.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Apparently you can also buy "forever" pre-paid priority envelopes too (which I think are new.. they weren't "forever" before): https://store.usps.com/store/browse/productDetailSingleSku.jsp?categoryNavIds=shipping-supplies%3aprepaid-priority-mail&categoryNav=false&navAction=push&navCount=0&productId=P_PPEP14PE&categoryId=prepaid-priority-mail

    ReplyDelete
  3. Apparently you can also buy "forever" pre-paid priority envelopes too (which I think are new.. they weren't "forever" before): https://store.usps.com/store/browse/productDetailSingleSku.jsp?categoryNavIds=shipping-supplies%3aprepaid-priority-mail&categoryNav=false&navAction=push&navCount=0&productId=P_PPEP14PE&categoryId=prepaid-priority-mail

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thank you Girls for your " post " on this, what great information. I am going to be able to give my Lowvolumnfat8swap, great information and it is helpful to me. I love fabric swaps.

    ReplyDelete

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