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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Envelope/Stationery Making (part one)

So you want to learn how to make envelopes?
I've been asked a number of times lately
so here we go -- an envelope/stationery tutorial.
This was harder to explain than it actually is to make the envelopes themselves.
Here is an array on my work table...
for inspiration.

Nothing is sacred -- I re-use, re-purpose everything I can get my hands on --
catalogs, cooking magazines, calendars, sheet music, ledger paper,
take-out menus, vintage magazines, old books, maps, comic books......
any paper ephemera that you can possibly think of.
You can also buy big sheets of decorative papers at art supply stores.

Free form envelope making
I prefer making a tri-fold envelopes. Very fast and easy. You don't even have to measure anything.
Cut a piece of paper and fold down about an inch for the "seal", then fold in half and use invisible tape to seal up the sides of the envelope. You can use decorative tape over that if you want.

Just be careful not to get over-zealous with the taping. I try to leave a small place at the top of each side to stick a knife or letter-opener in so people can get my envelopes open.
I have had to really tear some beauties that were sent to me because there was so much tape
and no little opening..

Handmade envelopes from a Japanese cooking magazine and a comic book.
It's fun to design the envelopes with the person you are sending to interests in mind.
And if you are sending them to someone in another country, chances are they
will enjoy seeing things you take for granted.

After sealing up the sides, adding decorative tape if wanted - just stuff the envelope and seal.
Et viola!
Slap a mailing label on the front, address, stamp and you are ready to rock and roll.

Or, take a walk to the post box.....

Templates for envelope making
If you don't want to do free form envelopes, you can buy clear, plexi envelope templates from Amazon

and, here in the USA, from The Paper Source. The advantage to the clear templates is that
you can position your template just the way you want it and see what will be showing on your envelope.
You use position template, trace with a pencil and cut out. Then tape or glue together.
This one was $1.50 from the Japanese Dollar Store here in SF.

Thanksgiving envelopes - catalog arrived today and I have a couple of envelopes ready to go out for Thanksgiving.

And here's a look at some great envelopes made by my pal
These are very cool - there is no end to ideas for envelope-making.

Edible SF magazine - a freebie. After reading it's envelope making time...

A lot of folks like to buy stationery and there are lots of places to do that - but I love re-cycling and re-purposing (again). I find old pads of paper in thrift shops and at
(think Korean Airlines stationery).
If your friends and family know you are into mail art and re-using they may clear out their basements or attics and offer up old hotel stationary or postcards that have been stored away.
Use rubber stamps to decorate.

I got a hold of some very old copy-right free designs and went to the copy center and got 100 great pieces of stationery.
If I wanted to get really crazy I could get out my colored pencils and color some of these in.

Charming, don't you think? And cheap!

Handmade cards
I like to make all kinds of cards as well....I found a stash of old romance novels at the thrift shop for 25 cents each and cut the covers off to make cards and postcards.
Anytime I can I pick up cool vintage photos and use them in the window cards...

These are just some of my ideas -- I will do another post about the subject  (collage cards, postcards) after Thanksgiving --so if you have any questions, please leave a comment.

And if you have any helpful advice to add, please do.
Making cards and stationery and envelopes is a lot of fun and also very "green" if you are re-cycling.

Send Good Mail (in a handmade envelope) to Get Good Mail!

Comments are always appreciated and welcome.


  1. Wow. Talk about creative! Very good. Smart, too. Thanks. :)

    1. Thanks, Limner! Always good to have you chime in to the conversation.

  2. Ooh, never saw one of those clear templates. Have to get me one of those. Thanks for the mention. I like your simple 3-fold too. I love your take out menu pieces, those are so much fun. xox Corrine

  3. Your envelopes are pretty sturdy - they are at least two pages thick, right? A single thickness magazine page won't hold up so well when mailed.

    Love the old novel covers!

  4. So cool! I love the novel cover cards. That's the kind of stationery that could really start a conversation!

  5. Garci--I think it depends on the paper you use-I do sometimes double up on the paper if I think I need to but some is very study the glossy catalog pages...(outgoing to you tomorrow Garci)

  6. Love your envelopes! The novel cover cards are really cool!!

  7. What a great find that $1.50 template from J-town is! Perfect for a mail kit. (Paper-Source templates are good but a bit pricey to take along when shopping for envelope material - I don't want to have to buy more.) I like your tri-fold envelopes, too. Simple, quick & easy.

    1. Oh yes --Jan-a-Banana -- I like tri-folds too. Haven't really met an envelope I haven't liked! Except for plain white, of course....

  8. Great post - thanks for sharing :). I already make envelopes myself, but it's always good to see how others do it and the pictures here are a great inspiration :)

  9. Just tried it, works perfectly ! Thanks for the lesson in envelope making :) What I just did also is, I copied the paper I used for the envelope on printing paper (you can use all kinds of effect these days for the image you use) and so you have your fitting stationary to your envelope.

  10. I'm going to make an envelope tomorrow, just bought some really nice paper. You'll see it in a week (or two, the mail's slow at the moment) :D

    I always enjoy your envelopes and stationary because as you said, it's different from what we have here!

    1. Annejo -- you make fabulous envelopes and I've been lucky enough to get a number of them.

  11. I ♥LOVE♥ your post today!!! I enjoy creating envelopes too. You inspired me even more. WOW!!! Where did you find the envie template? I go to J-town a lot and haven't found anything like it at Ichiban-Kan or Daiso. Thank you for sharing. :)

    You always inspire me to write more.

  12. @Puakalehua--I got the template at Daiso but they went fast. I bought a few and went back for more and they were all gone.....but I have seen individual templates on Amazon ...

  13. These are great ideas! I didn't know envelopes could be made so easy. Thanks so much for this post!

    1. pocci -- where have you been? Making envelopes is totally easy -- and quite addictive too. Have you been making some?

  14. OH!!! Awesome!!! I'll have to check it out next time I go to a Daiso store. :)

    1. Puakalehua - do you have a Diaso store near you? Aren't they wonderful?

  15. Gorgeous, Pamela! Your blog posts always make me want to run right to my desk and get busy.

  16. Fans - this gal Pamela knows what she's talking about! :D I've cut envelopes from templates for years, then starting making random-sized straight cut envelopes. ...Then I saw how she used the washi tape on the edges instead - this is the way of many of my envelopes now! What, more reasons for procuring more washi tape? :D Merci Beaucoup Pamela.....

  17. @GinaVisione - well, thank you very much! And your envelopes are great - just got a real beauty from you in the mail yesterday....

  18. Great envelopes! Who wouldn't be thrilled to get one of these in their mailbox!!!

  19. so inspiring! Time to go use my stash of saved papers!

    1. Thanks, Allison. Enjoy your envelope making and welcome to the blog!
      Looking back at this, I realize I was planning on a part two...better get busy myself..

  20. I've been making my own envies for a while now, and now that is all I use. I never buy them anymore, and I always look trough magazines before I recycle them ;)
    Thanks for sharing, I'll check out second hand shops for something I can use the next time I visit my city :)

    1. Hi Elizabeth - thanks for commenting. oh yes -- isn't making your own envelopes a lot of fun? I pick up anything I can get my hands on -- flyers, menus, tourist brochures, maps -- even homework the school kids toss out. I love to re-purpose.

  21. Great ideas! I especially like the old copyright-free borders and romance novels. I really need to replenish my supply of cards and stuff (the stamps are meant as raw material for that… we'll see). This provides some welcome inspiration.

    And Daiso… sigh. Last time I was down that way, I discovered their Daly City store, but haven't yet been to the main one in Japantown. One of these days… !



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