Why do they make the gum stuff on envelopes taste so nasty? Are they worried about kids practicing substance abuse with envelopes? Because if so, I think that’s pretty unfair to all the kids who, like me, grew up in smaller towns in places like Kansas, where there aren’t hookers and blow on every corner and you have to make your own fun.
Anyway. The point here is that envelopes taste nasty when you lick ‘em shut. Which naturally leads to the conclusion that you should avoid that gross taste in your mouth by making your own envelopes. Also, it’s really easy to make envelopes. You’re kind of being suckered if you’re buying them from the store. Just saying.
There are 4 basic parts to an envelope: The body (front), the back, the closing flap and two tabs on the side of the body that hold back and front together. Just take an old envelope apart, stare at it for a minute, and you’ll pretty much know what to do.
What you’ll need:
- pen or pencil
- ruler or straight edge
- paper (Used, upcycled paper is great for this. Try using old book pages, magazine pages, sheet music, maps, ads and brochures, scrapbooking paper or even plain old computer paper. The trick is just to make sure it’s strong to hold whatever you’ll be mailing. I don’t like construction paper because it weakens and tears easily along folds.)
- glue stick
- double sided tape (optional)
Making a template:
1) Decide how big you want your envelope to be. Then draw a square or rectangle that size. This will be the front of your envelope.
2) Draw two narrow rectangles (about 1/2 inch) along either side of the square or rectangle you just drew. These are the tabs that will hold the front and back of envelope together, making it an envelope.
3) Directly below the main square or rectangle, draw another square or rectangle of the same width, but slightly less high. This will be the back of the envelope.
4) Directly above the main square or rectangle, draw your envelope’s closing flap in whatever shape you want. Just make sure it’s the same width, of course. You can bring the flap to a point, make it a rounded flap, make it straight across, whatever.
5) Cut out the entire shape.
Other considerations: You may want to round or otherwise shape the corners of your side flaps, or of the envelope’s closing flaps, or of the back flap.
This is your envelope template. Trace it onto the piece of paper you want to make into an envelope, then follow these steps:
1) Cut out the envelope.
2) Make folds between the closing flap and the main body, the main body and the back flap, and the main body and the side flaps.
To make folding easier, especially with heavy paper, I use a ruler and a pen or pencil to make an indent along these lines before folding them. Don’t use scissors to make score lines as that might weaken the paper and cause the envelope to tear open. Just use a ball point pen and press down hard, or, if you don’t want visible lines, use the tip of a mechanical pencil without any lead sticking out.
3) Fold the side flaps inward and go over them with a glue stick.
4) Fold the back flap up, over the side flaps and press down until the glue holds everything in place.
5) (optional) Place a line or two of double sided tape on the inside edge of your closing flap. If you don’t have double sided tape you can just glue the envelope shut once you’ve filled and are ready to mail it.
6) If the paper used for your envelope is too dark or busy to write on, glue little rectangles of white or light-coloured paper on the front for the sending and return addresses.
That’s all there is to it. The real fun comes in making envelopes in unusual sizes or dimensions, making them out of really fun, unusual or funky paper, decorating them or personalizing them for whoever you’re sending them to. It’s one of the simplest crafts, it’s practical and useful, and it’ll keep those envelope-licking delinquents off the streets.