I used to think that the post office would only accept commercially purchased envelopes. As it turns out, however, that assumption was blissfully incorrect. You can easily make an envelope out of almost any foldable material, and the post office will deliver it! In this tutorial, I’ll show you a quick and simple technique for transforming everyday paper (or paper-like) materials into envelopes.
1. (Gently) Tear Apart a Commercial Envelope
Find a commercial envelope in a size that you like, and use a gentle touch to disengage the glue holding it together. Once you have taken apart the envelope, it should look something like the envelope below. Voilà! You’ve made a reusable envelope template.
Note that you don’t have to choose an unused envelope to create your template. Used junk mail envelopes can work beautifully for this purpose!
2. Find Your Envelope Material
You can make an envelope out of virtually any piece of paper (or foldable plastic, or starch-drenched fabric). As long as the material is a little larger than the envelope template that you made in the previous step, it will work!
If you’re working with a paper bag, you’ll need to cut it so it can lay flat.
3. Trace Around Your Envelope Template
Place your envelope template on top of the paper you’ll be making an envelope out of. Then, use a pen or pencil to trace around the template. It’s okay if your tracing isn’t absolutely perfect; as long as you’ve got the general shape there, the envelope will turn out great!
4. Cut Out and Fold the Envelope
Use the lines that you just traced to cut the paper.
Then, lay the “good” side of the envelope (the side that you want to show on the front) face down on a flat surface. Fold all of its tabs inward.
Next, press the side flaps down onto the bottom flap. Use a pencil to lightly trace around both of the side flaps, then let them spring back up. Apply glue inside the area that you just traced.
Now, press the side flaps down into the glue.
Once you’ve glued down the side flaps, you have an envelope!
5. Add an Address
If the paper that you used to create your envelope doesn’t feature a distracting design, you can write the address straight on the envelope. My envelope, however, is fairly “busy” — calligraphy may get lost in the design chaos. If you’re in the same boat, try writing the address out on a piece of white paper.
Next, cut out what you wrote. You can cut along the contours of the letters or cut out the address in strips (or a mix of both, as I did here)!
Once you’ve cut out the address, securely glue it onto your envelope.
If you want to add a little bit of extra pizazz to the envelope (like the henna motif below), you can! Then, put on stamps and send.
I hope that you enjoyed this tutorial, and that it inspires you to make an envelope out of the next cool piece of paper that catches your eye! Don’t be afraid to experiment: I’ve made envelopes out of everything from magazines to grocery sacks to vintage wallpaper. They always turn out really cool and unique! I also have mail art envelope templates available on the TPK site; you just print, fold, and glue them as shown in this tutorial. You can find those here! In the meantime, if you have any questions about this tutorial, don’t hesitate to ask. I’m always happy to help!
Thanks for reading TPK, and have a great weekend!