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How to Make Envelopes

Updated on September 26, 2012

Make Your Own Envelopes

An envelope is only a folded up, glued piece of paper. That's it. If you can unfold an envelope (to use for a pattern), then you can make your own envelopes quite easily. But I'm taking it a step further by making really neat, interesting and one of a kind envelopes and giving them as gifts. This article is about how to make your own envelopes for yourself and for others.

I was satisfied with plain white envelopes for a very long time. But after realizing all of the possibilities with printed papers and envelope shapes the plain white envelopes just won't do.

Can these envelopes be sent through the mail?

Yes, but remember 2 things...

1. You will have to add a white mailing label to the front of the envelope for the address. Patterned papers could cause a lot of mailing problems if you don't do this.

2. Check the size. According to the US Postal Service, envelopes can be no smaller than 5" wide by 3 1/2" tall to be sent through the mail.

If you'd like more information on Mailpiece Dimensions, here's a link to the US Postal Service: Mailpiece Dimensions

Envelope Making Materials

Simple stuff


Envelope (for making a pattern/template)

Paper (a lot more on this - scroll down)



Glue stick

Optional materials:



Butter knife for scoring the paper

Choosing your envelope shape and size

This is important

To the right you see some miscellaneous envelopes I keep in a craft drawer with my greeting cards. Look the different shapes of the flaps. Some are pointed and some are square. You can duplicate any envelope you want to, but some require larger paper than others. Envelopes with square flaps use less paper than pointed ones. This might not be an issue if you are making small envelopes, but larger ones will need larger paper.

The envelopes to the left are exactly the same finished size. You can see that there's a big difference in overall size between the two. Most of the paper I'll be working with (scrapbooking paper) comes in sizes up to 12" x 12" so I always choose envelopes that will fit on that size. I'm choosing the envelope on the left.

Think out of the box for paper sources!

There are lots of options

Any paper that can be folded and is large enough is fair game for envelope making. Here are some ideas:

Scrapbook paper

Old maps

Old magazines and catalogs

Wallpaper sample pages

Wrapping paper

Last year's calendar

1. Open up the envelope you've chosen along the glue lines

Once you choose the envelope you want to duplicate, carefully open it out flat. It's ok if it tears a little - they usually do. Do try to keep the edges of the envelope intact so you can trace it easily.

2. Check the size.

Now check the size of the envelope when it is opened up by laying it on top of your paper. The envelope I'm working with requires 12 x 12" paper and I'm satisfied with that size. If I didn't have paper large enough, I'd go back and pick a smaller envelope.

3. Trace the envelope onto cardstock.

This step is optional now that you have the envelope opened up. You can use the envelope itself as your template, but the paper is thin and hard to trace. I really like this envelope shape and size so I'm going to make a more durable template to use over and over again. It's important to trace the envelope accurately.

4. Cut out the template and label it.

Carefully cut out the template. Also, mark your fold lines with a ruler. This will help you visualize what paper patterns or images will end up on the front of the envelope.

There are also lots of free templates available online - Here's a list to investigate. Enjoy!

Just rememer that you'll be limited by the size of your printer paper. Most printers print only up to 8.5 x 14 (legal size). But come to think of it, you could always print out your envelope template and then take it to a copy store to enlarge it. Depends on how large you want the envelope to be.

You can also purchase templates

If you'd rather buy templates, you've got some options. Take note that each of these products gives you one size template. Sizes are listed in the description. There are several more sizes at Amazon as well. Click through below and search Kreate-A-Lope.

1. Check the pattern on the paper.

Is the paper printed so there is a definite "up" and "down" (for example, words are printed on the paper and need to be right side up)? Or is it a random pattern where it will not matter? Make sure patterns are right-side-up on the FRONT of the envelope. I know about this because I just cut out an envelope where the pattern was upside down.

2. Trace the template onto your paper and cut it out.

Trace the template onto the BACK of the paper (so no stray pencil marks will show) and cut it out. When I purchased this paper, I didn't realize it was printed on both sides! So the inside of the envelope will be a nice interesting shade of blue. Set the template aside.

3. Score the folds and fold the flaps.

Scoring helps paper (especially heavy papers) fold in the right place. Using the back of a butter knife, score the fold lines and fold the flaps into position. If the paper you are working with folds easily you can skip the scoring.

4. Glue the flaps.

Look at the envelope you unfolded and take note of where it was glued. Make sure you glue the flaps only where the papers overlap. You don't want to glue the envelope shut!

5. Your envelope is complete.

Congratulations. Now that you are a pro, you can give these interesting envelopes as gifts or save them for your next mailing.

How popular is envelope making?

Please participate in this poll

See results

"Rings and other jewels are not gifts, but apologies for gifts. The only gift is a portion of thyself.''

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Not that I don't like a nice pair of earrings every now and then.

I hope this article (lens) has given you one more idea for your hip pocket for an inexpensive personal gift. Let me know you stopped by!

Please let me know you stopped by!

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    • profile image


      4 years ago

      Amanda Kelly - Awww, I'm just seeing this post you're such an absulote doll! Thank YOU so much for giving us inspiration with your fabulous invitations. To this day, almost at our one-year anniversary, we still get compliments on the creativity and uniqueness of our paper goods (and stamped goods)!

    • Nancy S Oram profile image

      Nancy Oram 

      5 years ago

      Just what I was looking for. Thank you!

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Love the tips on the mailing sizes. Thanks for that info!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I make my greeting cards, and have two stacks of magazines under the table, and did not want to buy any more envelopes. And thanks so much for the printable flash cards, they are a blessing.

      Thanks so much for sharing,

    • SheilaMilne profile image


      6 years ago from Kent, UK

      I found an old road atlas in a junk shop and thought it would be ideal for making envelopes. I didn't get any further than that but you've given me the push in the right direction. It's a real shame the pictures are missing but your instructions are very clear.

    • Gypzeerose profile image

      Rose Jones 

      6 years ago

      @anonymous: Use books in the public domain and you won't have to worry about it. I don't think it would come up much unless you went commercial.

    • Gypzeerose profile image

      Rose Jones 

      6 years ago

      Thorough craft lens - easy to follow directions and practical. Unfortunately not all the photos were coming up (Squidoo not you I think) but I see enough to know that I want to sprinkle Angel Dust. Also pinned to my board "Crafts I love."

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      good lens, thanks for sharing....

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I've never tried this before, I find it just easier to buy a whole bunch of them for a couple dollars but this is more creative.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      hi, i would like to make envelopes, but i'm wondering about copyright issues. would it be ok if i made envelopes out of images from a book or magazine that was copyrighted?? i've been looking into this, but i can't find any issues with homemade envelopes besides them being the right size. i would appreciate any information, i'm just worried about the repercussions.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Wow I really enjoyed this lens, I cannot wait to try to make these myself. Thank you, great job!

    • WildFacesGallery profile image


      7 years ago from Iowa

      I love the wildly decorated envelope. I never would have thought to make something to wonderfully colorful and yet it so appeals to my artsy side.

    • Serenity30 profile image


      7 years ago

      Congratulations on being featured on the Monsterboard!

    • ICanCook profile image


      7 years ago

      What a nifty idea. I'm sure to do this in the future. You could use birthday wrapping paper to make envelopes for a birthday party invitation, etc. Wow. I love it.

    • hlkljgk profile image


      7 years ago from Western Mass

      making your own envelopes is so fun. Congratulations on being featured on the 50 Crafts I Want To Try MonsterBoard!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Interesting tip. It's a long time since I sent an envelope...

    • Retro Loco profile image


      7 years ago from USA

      Fun lens on making envelopes. Thank you for the instructions and pointing out what the postal regulations are on envelopes.

    • TolovajWordsmith profile image

      Tolovaj Publishing House 

      7 years ago from Ljubljana

      I am always for do-it-yourself ideas and also madesome envelopes. Yours are much cuter, so I will use yours from now on;)

    • howtocurecancer profile image


      7 years ago

      So many ideas! Thanks.

    • ArtByLinda profile image

      Linda Hoxie 

      7 years ago from Idaho

      What great ideas, good step by step instructions too, thanks for sharing!

    • Eighteen18 profile image


      7 years ago

      wow... what gorgeous ideas... in fact it makes me want to do more letter writing!

    • profile image

      CofCJenny LM 

      7 years ago

      Such an easy activity and you can be so creative with it! Love this :-)

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Great tips and wonderfully done!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I've been making my own envelopes for years. This is a great article for amateurs and pros like me. Thanks for the info.

    • dedolex profile image


      8 years ago

      Great ideas! Take it from me: an ex-printing teacher! Nice lens!

    • kare2share profile image


      8 years ago

      Such great ideas! I especially like the interlocking envelope and the petal-shaped one. Thanks for sharing, and best wishes for the new year!

    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 

      8 years ago from Canada

      An absolutely delightful article :)

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Thanks you. Your article was very helpful. Now I'm off to make some envelopes out of my scrapbook papers.

    • thesuccess2 profile image


      8 years ago

      Never thought of making an envelope before, I guess it's handy when you need an odd size

    • mskaylay profile image


      8 years ago

      I write a lot, your lens sound like fun, thanks for sharing.

    • asiliveandbreathe profile image


      8 years ago

      I'm happy to have found this lens. I've been trying to make my own envelopes and these tips will be a great help. Many thanks.

    • profile image

      valerief lm 

      8 years ago

      Very detailed info. Great lens.

    • Spook LM profile image

      Spook LM 

      8 years ago

      Blimey, fancy that, never had a clue about any of this. Have fun.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Wow...great lens! great and Awesome ideas! Very unique!

    • VarietyWriter2 profile image


      8 years ago

      Blessed by a SquidAngel :)

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      This is a superb presentation! Thank you.

    • indigoj profile image

      Indigo Janson 

      8 years ago from UK

      This is a very clear and attractive guide to making your own envelopes that I think anyone could follow. It opens up so many possibilities for pretty envelopes and for matching themes. Leaving an ~*~* Angel Blessing *~*~ for this lovely lens.

    • Sylvestermouse profile image

      Cynthia Sylvestermouse 

      8 years ago from United States

      I always enjoy your craft instruction lenses! This is another really neat idea! I love it!

    • HorseAndPony LM profile image

      HorseAndPony LM 

      9 years ago

      What a great idea. They are so amazing. Love this lens.

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 

      9 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      Lensrolled to my Greeting Cards for Fun lens.

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 

      9 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      Envelopes are so expensive that I need to do this for my handmade cards. Great instructions and great lens.

    • puzzlerpaige profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago

      Oh, I am SUCH a MAC GEEK too! For internet stuff etc. we use an IBM compatible, but my heart is for my MAC. I wouldn't use anything else for any graphics I work on. Us Mac fans are few and far between.

      Yes, printing out on colored paper is a super idea. Just check the size first to make sure it all fits. Thanks for your interesting comments.

    • CCGAL profile image


      9 years ago

      Good instructions for a fun project! Way back when the Apple IIe was state of the art, I had a simple greeting card program that printed an outline of an envelope on paper (with a dot matrix printer, LOL) that would also put your return address on it. You cut out the shape and used it to send the cards. Oh, how far we've come since then!

      I am wondering (and may test it later) if I could scan a copy of the template and then use it to print out an envelope on colored paper - it wouldn't be as beautiful as the ones you've shown here, but it might be kinda fun in a geeky techy sort of way. (Which I am, by the way, LOL)

      I've also seen advice for saving money where you turn junk mail envelopes inside out and use them to save money. Not so much fun, though, as perhaps using glossy adverts to make colorful envelopes.

      Very nice lens - 5* for you!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Great step by step instructions! Great lens!

    • tandemonimom lm profile image

      tandemonimom lm 

      9 years ago

      Beautiful lens about a beautiful subject! Nice to have another crafty Homeschooler on Squidoo!

    • blue22d profile image


      9 years ago

      Excellent lens, well thought out and nicely diagrammed. This would be an wonderful project for kids to learn. Occasionally I will have a card and have lost the envelop and now I know how to fix that. Thanks.

    • KOrazem profile image

      Seeking Pearls 

      9 years ago from Pueblo West

      I love papercrafts & with today's extensive collections it is a joy. You do such a fabulous job in creating your lenses. The how-to's are excellent.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      I love your clear instructions! This is a great lens! Blessed by a joyful angel!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Great lens!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Great lens!

    • jimmielanley profile image

      Jimmie Quick 

      9 years ago from Memphis, TN, USA

      You're officially blessed!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      What an excellent idea! My mom makes her own cards and they're adorable but I don't think she's tried making her own envelopes and I bet she'd love the idea. I'm headed her way for vacation shortly and will be sharing this with her. Maybe the nieces, my sis and I, could work on a few with my mom. Sounds like a neat project. Nicely done!

    • WindyWintersHubs profile image


      9 years ago from Vancouver Island, BC

      Great Lens! I always have assorted mail to forward to my two college kids. Can never find the right envelope & it often ends up too big. Thanks for the envelope instructions. Thanks for sharing! I love this lens! :)

    • NanLT profile image


      9 years ago from London, UK

      My 6 year old loves making his own cards to give people. Usually of unusual sizes that don't fit any envelopes I have on hand. Knowing how to make a basic envelope as you have described here is going to help me a lot when it comes to making envelopes for his creations.


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