• How to Make Centered Envelope Calligraphy

    Today’s tutorial goes back to basics by showing you how to make centered envelope calligraphy. Pre-planning is everything, so I’ve provided you with a detailed video tutorial and a guidelines printable that will ensure your success!

    Perfectly centered pointed pen calligraphy envelope
    Today, I’m going to show you how to make centered envelope calligraphy.

    There are plenty of mail art tutorials here on the TPK blog. As much as I love a highly-embellished envelope, though, it’s always a good idea to go back to basics. Today, we’re going to discuss how to make elegant centered envelope calligraphy. This tutorial, a fresh remake of a TPK classic how-to, will teach you how to make tasteful envelopes for all occasions. (Tip: if you can, get the parallel glider mentioned in today’s article! They’re very difficult to stock, and I recently acquired a batch after months of waiting.)

    How to Make Centered Envelope Calligraphy: The Video Tutorial

    This tutorial has been on the Blog since 2020. For years, I’ve wanted to demonstrate it in video form because there’s so much to the technique! I finally found some time today to make the tutorial, and you can watch it below:

    You can download the “Perfect Calligraphy Envelope Generator” that I’m using in the video here.

    How to Make Centered Envelope Calligraphy: The Written Tutorial

    1. Gather Your Supplies

    The perfect envelope calligraphy starts with the perfect envelope! It’s of utmost importance that you source envelopes that are constructed out of heavy, high-quality paper. The simple white envelope I’m using today is from Cards & Pockets (affiliate link), but there are several sources for nice envelopes.

    An assortment of supplies to make centered envelope calligraphy, including a parallel glider, a pencil, ink, a pen, and an eraser.

    In addition to an envelope, you’ll need:

    2. Make Calligraphy Envelope Guidelines

    First, print out the Perfect Calligraphy Envelope Generator, which you can find for free by clicking here. Then, line up the bottom of your envelope with the top of the bottom set of guidelines.

    Lining up an envelope with a guideline on top of The Perfect Envelope Calligraphy Generator
    I created the Perfect Calligraphy Envelope Generator to help you to draw horizontal guidelines and slant lines.

    Use a ruler and the guideline generator to draw horizontal pencil guidelines across the envelope. Draw as many sets of guidelines as you have address lines. (In my case, that’s four: the recipient’s name, street address 1, street address 2, and city/country.) Then, use the Generator to make slant lines.

    Using a pencil to draw guidelines in an envelope in preparation for making calligraphy
    I love using a parallel glider for this step. You can roll it continuously any direction, drawing guidelines as you go.

    Once you finish drawing horizontal guidelines, draw a vertical line in the center of the envelope.

    Pencil slant lines showcased on an envelope

    3. Draft One Line of the Recipient’s Address

    Today, we’re going to use a centering technique that’s usually pretty accurate and saves some time. First, type out your recipient’s address in whatever word processing program you prefer. Then, center the text. If you’d like to print out the address, you can — but it’s not necessary.

    If you choose to print out the address, you can draw vertical lines at the end of each line of text. This will help you determine the spatial relationship between address lines.

    Take a look at your address, and whatever the longest line is, write it on the envelope in pencil. Your pencil draft should reflect whichever calligraphy style you plan to use with your pointed and ink. (I’m using Janet Style calligraphy.) Once you’ve written the address line, measure it. In this case, the pencil calligraphy is about 4-5/8″ long.

    Measuring a line of calligraphy written in pencil
    As I mention in my video tutorial, I was incredibly lucky to get this pencil draft centering correct. Usually, it’s either too far to the left or too far to the right.

    If your initial pencil draft isn’t centered (which is the case 90% of the time; I got lucky today), take the pencil calligraphy measurement and divide it by two. Use those two numbers to make vertical centering guidelines on either side of the long guideline in the middle. For example, my 4-5/8″ measurement divides to 2-5/16″. As a result, I need to draw small vertical guidelines 2-5/16″ on either side of the middle guideline. Then, use the vertical lines on the printed-out address to eyeball additional pencil guidelines. For clarification on the process behind this, see my video tutorial (start around minute 7).

    Demonstrating how to center envelope calligraphy using a pencil draft
    Effectively, what we are doing here is determining where the address line should start and end in order to be centered.

    4. Write Your Calligraphy

    Start at the left vertical guideline, and write out the first address line using your pointed pen. Try your very best to start at the left vertical guideline and end at the right vertical guideline.

    Using a pointed pen to write centered envelope calligraphy

    Then, write the rest of the address. Again, try your best to touch both the left and right vertical pencil guidelines. If your spacing is a little bit off, you can adjust the length of any given address line by adding a flourish to the front or the back of it.

    Centered envelope calligraphy written using iron gall ink with a pointed pen
    Use your slant lines to ensure a neat, consistent lean to your letters.

    5. Erase + Add Postage

    Once your ink has dried, use a quality eraser to get rid of pencil guidelines. Then, depending on your desired effect, you can either add a single stamp or make a stamp collage.

    Centered envelope calligraphy with postage stamps

    Notes About Making the Perfect Calligraphy Envelope

    First of all, it’s important to remember that any calligraphy style will look great as long as it’s centered. I used Janet Style calligraphy for this envelope, but the 55 degree slant lines will work for many styles. If you opt to use a calligraphy style like the Amy, which doesn’t have a slant, just skip drawing the slant lines.

    Perfectly centered pointed pen calligraphy envelope
    I chose to use Janet Style calligraphy on this envelope.

    Second, this tutorial was created with the assumption that you’re only making one envelope. If you are addressing several envelopes using the same calligraphy style, I highly recommend making a spacing cheat sheet! You can learn about spacing cheat sheets in the Marvelous Mail eBook. A light box is also a great tool if you plan to calligraph envelopes in bulk.

    Centered envelope calligraphy with a wedding invitation
    Centered envelope calligraphy makes for the perfect accompaniment to any wedding invitation.

    Finally, it’s important to remember that handwritten calligraphy is perfectly imperfect. Very few of the envelopes that you create will be perfectly centered, and a letter or two may not be faultlessly formed. That’s fine! After all, if you wanted a flawless envelope, you’d electrically print directly on your envelopes. This removes the personal, artistic factor from the envelopes — which is why so many betrothed couples opt for handwritten envelope calligraphy.

    I hope that this tutorial helps you to create the (beautifully not so) perfect calligraphy envelope. Remember, you can find the envelope guideline generator here. I encourage you to print it out and use it over and over again!