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Make Your Own Expandable Envelopes

by scottkhevin

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Expandable envelopes come in different sizes, with dimensions ranging from 10" x 13" x 1-1/2" to 12" x 16" x 2". You can also choose from envelopes with regular gum or peel and seal lids.  Those with peel and seal lids have a strip of adhesive along the inner flap of the lids, which is covered by a protective seal, like an ordinary sticker. If you want to secure the envelope, you can simply tear off the protective seal and close the lid. On the other hand, envelopes with regular gum seals have a thin coating of gum on the inner flap that needs to be glued or soaked before it can become adhesive.


Other options include open end and open side envelopes. Open end envelopes have the lids at the top, while open side envelopes have length-wise lids. These are often made of manila paper, though in some cases, they can be made with light-weight cardboard and plastic.


Expandable envelopes are versatile items that can be used for various day-to-day activities at home or at the office. They can be used to mail bulky documents. They can also be used as plain storage for loose paper. They can keep your documents sorted and secure.


Though envelopes are widely available in the market, you can also make your own. It’s a very simple arts and crafts project with minimal costs. It also doesn’t require a lot of skill as long as you have precision.


The Project


Choose the material you want to work with. Manila paper is the most manageable choice because it’s thin and pliable. You can buy patterned paper so that you can simply follow a template. However, if you want to make expandable envelopes that are smaller or bigger than standard sizes in the market, you won’t need a template. You’ll only need to have an idea of the exact dimensions that you want, as well as an approximation of standard envelope sizes so you can modify them for your project.


You’ll need basic tools like a pencil, a ruler or measuring tape, and a cutter.


To begin, mark the outline of the expandable envelope over the front and back of the paper you’ve chosen. Outline two to three wedges over the sides of the main body of the envelope for the folds or accordion.


You can also outline the lid, whether you want to place it on the top of the envelope, or along its side. If you want to place the lid on the side of the envelope’s body, you’ll have to outline the accordion wedges on the top and bottom instead.


Create a continuous mirror image of all the outlines so that you can fold them into a three-dimensional envelope afterward. Make the mirror image as identical as possible. 


Once you’re sure that your measurements are exact and that the outline is precise, you can proceed to cut it out. Pull up the bottom part of the mirror outline to the top to create the body of the envelope. Then, fold the outline of the accordion wedges. You can do this with your hands, or with a ruler for a firmer fold.


Add glue to the tip of the accordion wedges on both sides then wait for it dry.


You can add a string or band to secure the lid of your expandable envelopes. You can also use double-sided tape if you want a peel and seal lid.

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