Introduction: Making Homemade Envelopes and Learning How the Postal System Actually Works

About: I work in mobile, edit video & host a beer show. I wrote a song for you and when I finished, I set the notes on fire.

I wanted to send my friend a few of the Field Notebooks I created a few weeks ago but couldn't find an envelope around the house to send them in. (Find that Instructable at Instead of rushing to the store to buy an envelope, I decided to build my own. Here is what you are going to need:

  • A Sheet of Construction Paper
  • A Sheet of Bristol Paper
  • Neutral PH Adhesive
  • Exacto Knife
  • Foam Brush
  • Taping Knife
  • Customizable Rubber Stamp
  • Stamp(s)

Step 1: Prepping Your Envelope

I found this really amazing sheet of construction paper but didn't think it would stand up to the outward force of a few notebooks so I decided to line the inside of the envelope with a sheet of thicker bristol paper. I applied a fairly significant amount of neutral PH adhesive to the bristol paper and used the foam brush to smooth the adhesive over the entire sheet. I then applied the construction paper to the sheet and tossed it under my project board with some weight on top. As always, I use a container of laundry detergent as a weight.

After 15 minutes of dry time, I used the Exacto knife to trim the edges of construction paper. The construction paper I have was a little larger than the bristol paper.

Step 2: Get to Folding

While there are dozens of inventive ways to fold a sheet of paper into an envelope, I tend to use the following method as it deviates from the standard store-bought envelope.

  • Fold 1: Fold the glued paper in half and use your taping knife to crease the fold properly.
  • Fold 2: Fold the lower right corner up towards the center of your first fold and use your taping knife to crease the fold properly.
  • Fold 3: Fold the upper left corner down towards the center of your first fold and use your taping knife to crease the fold properly.
  • Fold 4: Fold the lower left corner upwards so that the left side of the paper is in line with the upper right side of your paper and use your taping knife to crease the fold properly.
  • Fold 5: Fold the upper right corner back down over your previous folds, keeping your edges in line and use your taping knife to crease the fold properly.

You should now have an unglued version of your envelope.

Step 3: Add a Personal Message

Instead of including another sheet of paper with a note, I took the opportunity to write out a short message using my customizable rubber stamp and simply posted it right to the inside of the envelope. I had to do this in a few runs as my rubber stamp only does 3 lines at a time. Arranging the text for the envelope definitely took the most time.

Step 4: Glue It Up!

You are going to want to glue your envelope together before sending. While tape would work, I like for my envelope to look a little more professional and a little less, thrown together.

I started by applying a layer of neutral PH adhesive to the top portions of my 2nd and 3rd folds, being careful not to get any glue on the inside portions of the envelope. I then brought my 4th fold on top of the glue and applied some weight (laundry detergent) to the fold, ensuring a proper bond.

After that portion dried, I stuffed the envelope with my field notebooks and applied glue to the inside edge of the 5th fold, making sure not to get any glue on the inside of the envelope or on the field notebooks. Again, I placed the notebooks under some weight until the glue dried.

Step 5: Adding the Addresses

I again turned to my customizable rubber stamp to add the sender and return addresses. (You'll notice that this envelope has generic information on it. I actually made 2 envelopes, one with generic info so I could post it on Instructables and a second with the correct information that I would actually be sending. It's not that I didn't want you to see my address but that I didn't want to receive random letters from everyone.)

Now onto a super embarrassing instance....

Step 6: I Guess I Forgot How Mail Works...

I placed a stamp on the envelope and put it in the mail box. A day or two later, the envelope was back in my mailbox. I figured that maybe I didn't put enough postage on the envelope and proceeded to add another stamp before putting back it into my outgoing mail. A couple of days later, there it was in my mailbox again. I sent a picture of the envelope to my friend to make sure I had his address correct. His response: "Bro, do you know how mail works? You put your address in the delivery section and mine in the return to sender area. That's why it kept coming back to you." (I guess it's been a few years since I've actually mailed a letter.)

Anyway, I have it all figured out now and the letter is properly en route to my friend.

I hope this Instructable helps you if you decide to create your own envelope. I also hope it reminds you to double check how you fill the darn thing out.

Before and After Contest 2016

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Before and After Contest 2016