On the off chance that we’re not BFFs on Instagram *cough cough, let’s do it*, you may not know how very new I am to the #snailmailrevolution. I’m still at the very early stages of learning little by little, with lots of trial and far more error!
There are some people out there with such an abundance of creativity, followed by most people fitting into the vast middle ground …. and there is me. I thought to myself – surely I can’t be the only one that needs a little help with the basics? So I’m working on a series of posts that explores some of the ideas and options for us beginners before attempting to tackle things that actually require talent.
First I’d like to suggest you start with my original post on tips for snail mail newbies.
Today, however, we look at creating our own envelopes to either post our mail in, or add among our letters to house little craft goodies.
During my first pen-pal experience I gave the envelope very little thought. I had seen so many beautiful options on Instagram but they all required some doodling/artistic skills and I didn’t want to put my beautiful pen-pal through the agony of trying to decipher what that 5-legged-mutant-animal on her letter was.
After a little indecisiveness I went with a kraft envelope (which didn’t match my theme at all) and stamped all over it in a pretty floral pattern. And I loved it! Until it burst at the seams because I was trying to stuff too much inside.
Creating your own envelopes has the benefits of having a matching set/theme and making it whatever size and shape you prefer! So let’s get started with some of my tips on making your own beautiful, personalised envelopes.
- Before you do anything else, set up your work space! Make plenty of room, spread out your supplies and put on some music or a tv series and let your creative juices flow!
- Next you’ll need to find a template of the size and shape you want your envelope. The easiest way is to carefully open up an envelope you have on hand and use that as a template. Another option is printing templates others have shared online such as these and these. Many craft stores sell envelope templates at very reasonable prices.
- After choosing your favourite, have a look around your home for paper you can use to create them from. Don’t limit yourself to the obvious. Some options include:
- Scrapbook paper
- Pretty notebook paper
- Cheap glitter sheets you’ve accidently purchased from the children’s craft section
- Old maps (make sure they aren’t too old, you don’t want to be tearing into anything valuable!)
- Pretty images from old wall calendars
- Coloring-book sheets
- Stiff printed material, using fabric glue to seal the folds
- Vellum paper
- Magazine pages
- Printed images on regular paper
- Choose out your favourite images, color pages in your color scheme and create a theme. Tip: My very favourite envelopes came out from coloring books, which you can do either colored in or leave black and white, adding interest with a little pop of color in the envelope lining (more on that later).
- Lay your chosen paper flat, place the template over it and trace around it. Tip: Sounds simple enough, but make sure you’re aware of where the image sits once your envelope is folded up. This doesn’t matter much with simple or patterned paper.
- Cut around the outline and admire your work.
- Decide on which side to fold inwards and follow the folds of your opened envelope or those shown on the template. I used a ruler to help guide me when folding over each flap so I didn’t fold lopsided. Tip: Before pressing down on each folded flap, make sure everything is even. Don’t rush this process, uneven folds become obvious only once you’ve glued it down, making you miserable forever (not exaggerating).
- Double and triple check everything folds nicely, flip over to the side you will be addressing and check that all the sides look even here as well. Glue down folds! I prefer the two smaller sides to fold in first and then bring forward the bottom flap. I find assembling it this way gives it a cleaner look. Tip: Double sided tape is far less messy than regular glue. Make sure it isn’t cheap useless glue that unsticks with a little pressure if you want it to survive the post. Don’t be too generous with the tape. There have been times I’ve placed it top to bottom of the side flap, only to find the bottom fold didn’t reach up that high and now had inconvenient sticky bits!
- Pick out paper for an envelope lining. This is not only a lovely touch, but can help reinforce envelopes made of thinner paper such as magazine sheets or maps. It’s also another great way to personalise it. You can use pretty much anything from the list above.
- There are also plenty of templates you can purchase for standard envelope sizes, and they are a great idea if you’re creating liners for event invitations. However, if you’re going to make a variety of shapes and sizes, you’re better off working with what you’ve got. Place your folded up envelope over your decided pattern and trace around.
- Cut out shape and slice off between 0.5-1 cm off the bottom. Also slice off a slither each side of your liner. I can’t even give you measurements, start off with the smallest slither and try slipping it into the envelope. Do this until you’re happy with the fit. Tip: if you don’t slice off enough, it will bubble up and distort the shape of the envelope. If you cut too much you will notice the space between the liner and the envelope at the sides. It’s a good idea to leave a little space between the top of the liner and the envelope so that they line-up well when folded over (when sealing the letter). I only match the envelope height if there is an image on the inside of my envelope I want to cover and if my lining paper is thin and won’t be pushed upwards during the fold.
- Once you’re happy with the line-up, glue it down!
- There you have it! Your very own personalised envelopes! The only thing left to do is address them. If your pattern is too busy and you’re unable to write clearly on it, you can print it on simple label paper, or image search (adding png for transparent backgrounds) for a corresponding theme you can print the address on. Examples would be:
- Moon for a starry envelope
- Silhouette of a woman/man
- Balloon for a colorful envelope
- Basic shapes for a fun element
- Faded succulent for a rustic kraft paper envelope
- Envelope on an envelope
- Globe with plane flying around it
- Variety of confetti with different address details on each circle
I really hope you try your hand at creating your own customisable envelopes and join me in spreading the love one happy mail at a time!
What has been the most creative envelope design sent to you?