Wednesday, July 20, 2011

DIY: envelopes

I don't like using plain envelopes unless I'm sending bills.

1 plain or used envelope of a size and shape you particularly like
any kind of paper you like (I've used an old poster, kraft paper, neon paper, a page from a Japanese kid's book, magazine pages, newspaper, scraps of wallpaper, maps, and wrapping paper)
glue or double-sided tape (or any tape -- Japanese washi tape would be pretty!)
ruler (optional for folding)

Take the old boring envelope and unfold it by lifting the glued corners apart. Be very careful not to rip any of the edges. This now becomes your pattern.

Place the unfolded envelope pattern flat down on your paper and carefully trace around it.

Cut out the shape by following your trace lines. I like to cut just inside the pencil mark. The flaps tend to match up a little better that way. You can either use the ruler to match up the edges for a straight and sharp fold, eyeball it, or use the unfolded envelope to help fold the paper back into an envelope shape.

Use the envelope template as a guide to where you should glue or tape the new pretty envelope closed and you're done!

{examples and ideas}

On simple kraft paper like this, you can add interest by closing it up with masking tape. I cut mine with scalloped scissors and I used the same tape for an address box on the front.

You can also get creative with how you cut the edges. I used the scalloped scissors again on the flap of this pink envelope just to give it a little more interest. 

You can also glue/tape your envelope shut any way you'd like to once you've cut it out. These two are from the same envelope pattern. The Hokusai wave envelope is how the original envelope looked. I just turned the silver one (old Christmas wrapping paper) on its side and glued the bottom three flaps together instead. Make sure to remember to address and stamp this envelope the long way around so it keeps its neat elongated look on both sides.

And you can fold patterned paper backwards so the pattern is a pretty surprise on the inside once it's opened again. I used antique wallpaper here but you can find a lot of one-sided patterned papers at craft stores these days.


There are a lot of places on the internet where you can find envelope patterns, too. I've done that, but I always find that the envelope is either too small or I didn't like how it looked folded up. Since then, I haven't really bothered to take the time to search better patterns out so I can print them and then cut them out and then go through the steps above. At least with this method, I know exactly what I'm getting and it's simple and quick.

Try it out the next time you have to send something via snail mail. Speaking from experience, it's super exciting and cool to get something unusual and different in the mail!

for more DIYs check out this post


Jane said...

I recognized The Wave right away - I have a thing for Japanese wood block prints. The wallpaper envelope is also lovely :)

Tricky Nag said...

Such a terrific idea, and so simple. I'm going to start making my own now. Thanks!

GALaxy said...

Jane: I love that print, too. I bought it in University for like $10, but it was starting to show its age and made me feel like a college kid. I've been wanting to use it for envelopes for a while now.

Tricky Nag: It is super easy and really fast. You can whip one out in no time at all.

Lindsey @ Hot Polka Dot said...

Hey I recognize that brown envelope! I thought it was really cool that you made the envelope and now I'm really impressed with all these different patterns and colours! I especially like the wave too.

Anonymous said...

I make clear plastic templates from commercial envelopes and then I use old atlases or magazine pages. The clear template allows me to see how it is going to fold and I can adjust accordingly.

GALaxy said...

Lindsey: I'm picturing some cute polka dotted envelope mailers for some of your creations!

Anon: What a great idea! Then you can get that picture lined up exactly where you want it!