How to Make Envelopes by Hand!

I love paper! You know those racks they have in art stores with giant sheets of decorative paper? Those make me go wild! So, whenever I have a good excuse to buy some such paper, I get very excited. One good reason I have found is envelope-making. My high school art teacher first introduced me to the idea of making your own envelopes, and while it does take a little bit of time and effort, you can create some really beautiful envelopes out of any paper you want.

Earlier this week, I had a project come up that would require some 3.5 x 5 inch envelopes. I wanted the envelopes to be unforgettable, so of course that meant I had to make my own. I started looking online for a good free 3.5 x 5 inch envelope template, but I just couldn’t find one. So I decided to draw one up on my computer, which then made me think, “maybe someone else is looking for this?” This lead me to the idea of creating a little set of instructions for you here. I wish I had taken some more pictures (it’s mighty hard to describe some steps in words), but hopefully my instructions combined with your practical smartness and imaginative abilities will get you there. When all else fails, I think looking at an already-made envelope can be helpful. Also, feel free to drop me a comment if you’re having troubles. So, here it goes:


1. Decide on the size envelope you need/want and find a template. I will put a link to my 3.5 x 5 inch template below, or else you can find an existing envelope you like and deconstruct it to use as a template.
2. Print your template, or trace your template envelope onto a piece of card stock. This will make the template easiest to trace. If you can’t find a piece of card stock big enough, a piece of newspaper will work fine, you’ll just have to use a ruler along each edge when you’re tracing to get a nice firm line. Cut your template out using scissors or an x-acto knife and ruler.
3. Find some gorgeous paper you would like to use for your envelopes. If you’ll be sending the envelopes through the mail, you might want to use a thick-ish paper (rice paper, or very thin decorative papers can rip easily). You can use wrapping paper, old maps, newspaper, anything you wish!

4. Trace your template onto the back of your paper with a pencil. Make as many traces as you want final envelopes.
5. Cut out your envelopes using an x-acto knife and a metal ruler, or scissors. I don’t have a tremendously steady hand, so I find that an x-acto and ruler works best for me to get straight lines. Make sure to use a metal ruler so that you can’t cut into the ruler with the x-acto.

6. Fold up your envelope, folding each flap in around the central rectangle. I use a thin plastic ruler held along each side of the rectangle and then fold each flap over it to get a straight fold. Make sure the decorative side of your paper is facing out.
7. Glue your envelopes together: apply glue to the inside edge of one of the horizontal flaps making sure that you apply glue only where the other flap will reach over it, glue horizontal flaps together. Then apply glue to the edges of the bottom flap, fold flap up and press firmly. Stack some books on top of the envelope and let it dry under the weight. Note: on my envelope template, the pointed flap is the top flap and will be left open for stuffing the envelope.
8. Repeat step 7 for each envelope
9. Stuff your envelope and seal it up as you like with a sticker, tape, or glue!

Here is that 3.5×5 inch envelope template I promised. It will fit on one standard 8.5 x 11 inch sheet of paper.

Have fun!


13 Responses to “How to Make Envelopes by Hand!”

  1. 1 Amy March 27, 2011 at 2:44 pm

    Totally inspired now! Thanks for this!

  2. 2 Kerri March 29, 2011 at 12:18 am

    Wow! These are so beautiful!

  3. 3 Margo April 7, 2011 at 9:40 am

    I love paper too! It’s what I gravitate towards for souvenirs when I travel (and then I have a hard time actually using the paper. . .)

    But. I have made envelopes for a while, but not as pretty as yours – thanks for the nice template.

    What kind of glue do you recommend using? I use doublesided tape with moderate success, but I’d like to know more about glue options.

    • 4 Nicole | Blue Bicicletta April 8, 2011 at 8:07 am

      Hi Margo! I have the same problem—I like to hoard paper and often don’t know what to do with it after! As far as glue, a couple of years ago I got turned on to something called “Yes Paste” and that’s what I used on these envelopes. I got it originally for another project, but I’ve found that it works great on pretty much any paper project—it’s acid free and it’s pretty thick so it doesn’t run when you use it, and it really glues things down (helped along by putting some books on top and letting things dry). I’ve also heard recommendations for a glue called PVA (polyvinyl acetate), but I’ve never used it before–it’s often used by book makers, so I would think it would be a pretty good choice too. Hope that helps!

  4. 5 chilemay January 20, 2012 at 10:14 am

    what a relief!!! thanks so much!!! :)

  5. 7 janice May 8, 2012 at 8:13 am

    this saved me, i had been looking everywhere for a simple but elegant 3×5 template for my rsvp cards that i made, i couldn’t find anything other than people wanting to sell them already made, i was getting so frustrated until i found this, thank you so much! I can now make my envelopes using the seeded paper to match!

  6. 9 This Gorgeous Girl May 20, 2012 at 4:47 pm

    Thanks for this post! I can’t wait to put it into practice!

  7. 10 Krati October 4, 2012 at 7:33 am

    thanx for d lovely idea…

  8. 11 company profile template doc April 15, 2013 at 6:52 pm

    This excellent website really has all of the info I needed concerning this subject and didn’t know who to ask.

  9. 12 Em March 17, 2015 at 7:38 am

    where did you get this paper? it’s gorgeous!

  1. 1 How to make Envelopes « amieboyle Trackback on October 16, 2012 at 1:16 am

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Hello there! My name is Nicole K. Docimo, and I am an artist and writer from the U.S.A. but currently residing in Zurich, Switzerand. Thank you for visiting my blog!

Some Thoughts

"Be thirsty for the ultimate water,
and then be ready for what will
come pouring from the spring."

{from "Joy at Sudden Disappointment"
translated by C. Barks.}

~This Work ~

Unless otherwise noted, all images and writings on this blog were created by me, Nicole K. Docimo aka Blue Bicicletta. If you would like to share anything you see here for inspirational purposes online, I just ask that you kindly let folks know where you found it. If you are wanting to share/reproduce any of my work in any other way, or have any questions about how you will be sharing the work in relation to copyright, please contact me directly at nkdocimo {at} gmail {dot} com. Thanks!

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