Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Tutorial Tuesday: How to Make a Shipping Envelope from a Cereal Box

Today I'm going to show you how to make your own shipping envelopes using materials you have at home. Since my shops on Etsy are built around using ecofriendly upcycled materials, it only makes sense that my shipping materials also follow these lines. Reusing is the easiest way to be ecofriendly for shipping materials.

You can make these mailers any size you wish, as long as you follow your region's postal guidelines. For example, you can see Canada Post's guidelines for nonstandard lettermail here. I usually make two sizes of mailers from cereal boxes: to fit my round and oval coiled mats. I want to keep my items safe in the mail, so it is important to use a sturdy mailer, but I also want to keep shipping costs to a minimum, so I try to eliminate any unnecessary weight as well.

Materials and Tools:
- Cereal box, or other similar packaging material
- Cutting tools, options include: 
    1. a paper trimmer
    2. rotary cutter and acrylic ruler
    3. utility knife and metal ruler
    4. scissors
    5. cutting mat if using #2 or #3
- Bone folder or teflon folder or other scoring tool
- Double sided tape
- Sewing machine

1. Open the seam in your box and flatten the box.

2. Determine the finished width and height of your mailer. 

3. Trim the top and bottom of the box off to the measurement for the width. Here I use either my rotary cutter or my utility knife because my paper trimmer can't cut through more than one layer of box board.

4. Open out your box. Using your measurement for the finished height, trim one side to this measurement (see red arrow above). Here I can use my paper trimmer through the single layer.

5. Fold your box again on the fold you just measured from and trim off the other side of the box to  make your flap. I usually cut the flap 5cm (2") long (see red arrow above). Again, here I can use my paper trimmer through the single layer.

6. Turn your mailer inside out so the blank side is now on the outside.

7. Using a wide zigzag stitch and an old needle in your sewing machine, stitch down the two open sides of your mailer, backstitching at both ends. I try to use up all my nearly empty spools and bobbins of thread for this step, and don't care what colour I use. Remember not to sew the flap edge closed!
   *If you don't have a sewing machine, you could use paper tape or packing tape for this step.

8. Trim off any thread ends. Your post office won't be too happy if long threads get caught in their sorting equipment.

9. Using your bone folder or other scoring tool, score along the flap edge, using the shorter side as your guide. I like to score it on both the front and the back to help the flap fold over nicely.

10. Use double sided tape along the flap edge to seal the envelope when you are ready. It is easiest to store your mailers flat at this stage.

11. When you are ready to use your mailer, fold the flap over and seal with the double sided tape. You can also decorate your mailer with doodles or rubber stamps or any other ideas you have. 

With these mailers, I'm able to keep the thickness of my package to less than 2 cm so they fit through the Slot of Doom, and can be shipped as nonstandard lettermail from Canada, keeping my shipping costs down for my customers!

This tutorial was first published on PrairiePeasant's blog here.

Do you have any packaging tips to share? I'd love to hear from you in the comments!


  1. I loved the slot of doom comment I am always surprised when my packages fit through there! Love the idea of re-using the boxes as well for envelopes.

    1. Thanks Daphne! Reusing materials you already have is great way to save money and do what you can to prevent extra waste at landfills.


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