Here are the how-to instructions for making the envelopes shown in a previous post, DIY Artfully Recycled Envelopes. These copious instructions make this seem complicated; it isn't. This is the quickest, easiest way to crank out a ton of interesting envelopes in a very short time, and the cutting is basically free-hand. Just go through the steps shown below once and you'll have it.
|Sample finished product using page from recycled book about weather.|
Materials: Used coffee-table books with interesting full-page illustrations, bought at thrift stores for less than $1 each; glue stick; scissors.
|Page from book (left), template for envelopes (right)|
Start by leafing through your book(s) and ripping out pages you think would create interesting envelopes. Create an envelope template out of a sheet of cardboard, cutting it to the size you would like your envelopes to be. As shown above, this cardboard template (6 inches x 4.5 inches) was created from the cover of one of the thrift store books.
|Placing template on page|
Place the template on the page, and try to position it over the most interesting portion of the page. This is going to be the front, featured section of your envelope. Make sure to leave at least one inch space on left and right sides of the page (these will be your side flaps), about 1.5 or 2 inches on top (this will be your top flap, sealed after you insert a letter), and enough space on the bottom so that when you fold the page, the edge of the page reaches the top of your template. If you're working with a large page and you end up with the bottom edge of the page overshooting the template, just trim it. You may also trim sides or top as desired. There is no need to measure anything! This is all freehand and eyeball work.
|Make sure when page is folded, bottom edge of page reaches top edge of template.|
Proceed to fold the page over the template as shown below, as if you were wrapping a package. Again, no need for perfection. The colors and printing on the envelope mean that it's very forgiving visually.
|Fold page over template|
Now unfold, remove template, and then refold the page the opposite way so that the graphic side is showing. Press seams firmly - you want to be able to see these folds for the next step.
|Discard template, refold with graphic side showing|
Unfold again and open up sheet with the wrong side facing you. The lines on the page below are drawn only for instructional purposes to show you where and how to cut out the envelope. Again, you don't have to do any measuring or drawing. All of this is done freehand.
|Solid lines indicate fold lines; dotted lines indicate cutting lines.|
Your fold lines become your eyeball cutting guide (though you probably want to take care not to cut your eyeballs). I find it's quickest and easiest to do each of these four (A through D) as one cut. For example, I start cutting up along the A foldline, and when I reach the horizontal fold line, I just pivot the scissors slightly on the diagonal and complete the cut. I want to stress again that there is no need for perfection, no need for the diagonal cut angles to perfectly match, no need for any measuring or drawing. Just cut.
|Showing the cut-aways|
Now you're ready to glue your envelope together, which involves simply gluing the two side flaps. When I'm doing a lot of glue stick work, I use an old mail order catalog as the working surface. That allows you to slop glue over the edges of the piece you are gluing. When the work surface becomes fouled with glue, just flip the page of the catalog and use the next page as a fresh work surface.
|Gluing the side flaps|
Make sure you cover the outer edge of the flap with glue, and glue to within a quarter inch or so of the fold.
|Gluing a side flap|
Flip your envelope over, fold each of the side flaps inward, and bring the bottom section up and on top of the side flaps. Press and smooth with your hand.
|Fold bottom up and press down on top of side flaps|
|Finished envelope front|
|Finished envelope back|
When you are ready to use your envelope, just glue down the top flap after you've inserted your letter or card. Obviously, you are going to need to also make and glue down a mailing label because writing an address directly onto the graphic envelope would be illegible. I like a torn paper effect for the labels. You can cut your labels into any shape you like. Here, I've printed out my return address on my printer (spacing the copy so that I get 8-up on an 8.5x11 page and then tearing them out). You could just hand write the return address.
|Address labels, printed and torn out|
|Final product with label and stamp|
These instructions are necessarily tedious to show you all of the steps. Once you get the system down (which should take about one practice envelope), you can churn these out really, really quickly. While fun for use in your own mailings, they can also make a nice gift when grouped in stacks of five or ten and tied with a ribbon. Adding a label with the recipient's return address would be a thoughtful touch.