Saturday, December 13, 2008

Modifying Envelopes for Square Cards

The post office charges a higher rate for square envelopes and cards with bulky embellishment and this is definitely a consideration if you are making cards that you plan to mail. I’ve always hated to mail square cards in a rectangular envelope which is the obvious solution for saving on postage. They slide around in the envelope and they look mismatched and well, tacky.

For yesterday’s square “Snowy Jo” card, I modified 5-7/16 x 7-1/4 inch greeting card sized envelope to accommodate his square shape and the end result is an embellished, matching envelope that fits the card snugly and can be mailed with regular first class postage.

I got the idea for this modification from something I recently saw on Julie Ebersole’s (JulieHRR at SCS) blog. Julie modifies an A2 envelope to fit a small square card. You can see Julie’s original post here:

First, a Bit About Envelopes

It’s easy to modify a first class postage approved envelope for an “off-size” or unusual shaped card but first, here’s a bit about envelopes in general. Of course, you can always make your own envelope for any card, but you may still run into the issue of surcharges by the post office for over-sized, bulky, and over-weight cards.

A2 envelopes are the standard invitation size envelopes and are a terrific choice for smaller square cards. They are designed for cards measuring 5-½ inches by 4-¼ inches. These are cards made from a half sheet of letter sized card stock (8-½ by 5-½ inches) folded in half and are a staple for most card makers. At 4-3/8 by 5-¾ inches, A2 envelopes can hold up to a 4-¼ inch square card.

A2 envelopes are made from a heavier weight (24 lb or higher) stationery grade paper (vs 20 lb paper for regular business envelopes) and they are readily available at office supply stores such as Office Depot and Staples in bulk (boxes of 50-60 up to 250 and 500) in white, cream, and pastel colors and are economically priced (less than 10 cents each for the smaller boxes and as little as 2.5 - 3 cents each for the largest ones). Compared with the cost of buying envelopes in a craft store at a cost of as much as much as 50 cents or $1 each even with a card, the invitation size envelope is perfect for most “small card” needs.

A 5-7/16 x7-1/4 inch greeting card size envelope is another card making staple and probably the size I use most often. These are also known as A7 envelopes and can hold square cards as large as 5-¼ inches. There is also a slightly larger envelope (approximately 5-7/8 by 8-3/4) available in bulk at office supply stores. I have a box of these labeled “greeting card” size, but they are more commonly referred to as catalog size envelopes and are designed to fit a sheet of 8-1/2 by 11 inch paper folded in half. As long as they don’t go over the maximum weight (0.5 ounce), these can also be mailed for regular first class postage.

Regardless of which size envelope you use, it’s a good idea to select the envelope before you cut the card base so you can be sure that your card is going to fit whatever envelope you have.

Lastly, if you are mailing a card with brads or other 3-D embellishments, if you slide a plain piece of card stock over the front of the card inside the envelope, unless the embellishments are unusually large, it will keep the outer surface of the card flat enough and will provide adequate protection for the card to be able to safely pass through the sorting and postmarking machinery at the post office. If the envelope can’t pass through the machinery, you’ll get hit with a surcharge (which means that the card will be returned to you for additional postage) and worse, the machinery might actually damage the envelope and card if the embellishments get caught in it.

Modifying the Envelope

For Snowy Jo, because of his size in relation to the sketch for this challenge, I wanted to make a larger card and so I chose an A7 greeting card size envelope and based my card size off that. To make sure I had ample wiggle room for the card, I made the card 5 inches square.

To embellish the envelope, I stamped Snowy Jo on the lower left corner of the front of the card in Versafine Vintage Sepia and clear embossed him. The post office does allow decorated (stamped or stickers) envelopes with embossing and glitter at no extra charge.

I cut his hat and scarf out of the stamped image. To do this, I slid a piece of very heavy corrugated cardboard into the envelope under the image and cut those areas out with an Exacto knife using fairly light pressure. The cardboard keeps you from penetrating through to the back side of the envelope when you cut.

I cut a strip of the plaid paper that I used for the card 2-1/4 inches wide and 5-1/8 inches long. Before I adhered it permanently in place inside the envelope, I put the card into the envelope with it to verify that it was the correct size for the space next to the card. It fit well, with about a quarter inch to spare, which is plenty of wiggle room for the card to be easily slid in and out of the envelope.

To set it in place, I put adhesive on both sides of the strip and carefully slid it into the envelope on the image side (return address side) of the envelope with the pattern facing the front, showing through the cut out area of Snowy Jo’s hat and scarf. I pressed to adhere the adhesive and voila, I had an envelope that fit my card perfectly. Just be careful not to put adhesive over the area of the strip where it’s going to show through the envelope!


kay said...

hi! was wondering if you know if there was a company that manufactured the rectangle envelope to fit the square cards so i could buy in bulk? thanks!!

Cathy said...

Kay, I get them at Staples. Any major office supply store would have them. For this particular card, I used a roughly 5x7 envelope. (It's slightly larger.) These are sold as "greeting card" envelopes in boxes of 100, 250 and larger.