Fabric envelope tutorial

Fabric envelopes

front of fabric envelopesI put together some fabric envelopes for a friend who teaches young children.  She wanted a way to hold educational card sets in the classroom.  The containers had to be tactile, attractive, sturdy, and easy for little kids to open and use.  I think these fit the bill, don’t you?  In the process I discovered a quick, satisfying make that’s great for using smaller pieces of cherished fabric.

Want to make some too?  Here’s how to do it:

First, you need an envelope template.  I used a set I have from PaperSource—I’ve used it many times to make envelopes out of flyers, magazine pages, and posters, but this was my first try with fabric.  If you’d rather not buy a template, you can unfold any envelope you have and lay it out flat, then trace around it on some cardstock or a scrap from a cereal box.  Cut it out carefully and you can use it over and over again.  Just make sure the envelope is generously sized for what you want to put in it, since the double layer of fabric takes up more room and is a bit more “grabby” than a single layer of paper.

2015-09-fabric-envelopes-templateNext, find your fabric.  You’ll need an outer shell and a lining, which can be the same or different fabrics.  Quilting cotton does well, but anything stable will do.  A velveteen with a voile lining would be spectacular, for instance.  Or perhaps a vintage handkerchief with cotton lining?  A fat quarter will make two 4×6 inch envelopes.

Trace and cut out one envelope shape from the shell fabric, and one from the lining.  I used an Anna Maria Horner print called Twill Bouquet for the outside and a leftover bit of grass-green solid for the inside.

Lay the envelope shapes right side together and pin.

The envelope pieces are seamed, except for a gap at the bottom of one of the side pieces that I'll use to turn the piece right side out.
The envelope pieces are seamed, except for a gap at the bottom of one of the side pieces that I’ll use to turn the piece right side out.

Sew along the edges of your envelope shape, leaving a gap of an inch and a half or so that you can use to turn the piece.  I placed my gap along the bottom of one of the side pieces of the envelope, because I knew the bottom flap would eventually cover my hand stitching there.  Clip almost to the seam line at any corners so that your seam will lay flat once you turn the piece right side out.

Give the whole thing a quick press and turn it right side out through the gap you left in the stitching.  Close that gap with hand stitching, and press again.  Admire your handiwork so far.

Fold in the sides and bottom of the envelope and tack them in place with a slip stitch.  Before you stitch, use a card or other insert to make sure that what you want to fit in the envelope will slide in easily and that your corners are square.

You can just fold the top flap down, in which case you’re finished.  I elected to add a closure.  I sewed on a snap, but you could also use a button and elastic loop, a toggle and string, or a button with buttonhole.  Experiment with items you have on hand to see what looks good with the proportions and fabric you used.

And that’s it!  You now have a lovely little gift for yourself or someone else.  I have a feeling I’ll be making a few of these to tuck small items into come the holidays.

What would you keep in one of these envelopes?


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