in: How To, Skills

• Last updated: June 2, 2021

2 Ways to Fold a Letter Into Its Own Envelope

Letter turned into an envelope.

Nowadays, if you get a message from someone, it’s likely to show up on your phone, in your email inbox, or within your social media apps. It’s all too rare to get an actual letter in your actual mailbox. That space seems reserved for bills and catalogs/coupons you’ll probably directly transfer to the recycling bin. 

Getting a real letter feels like a unique moment and there is a special excitement that goes along with seeing who sent it and opening it up. In other words, handwritten letters have a magic to them that cannot be replicated digitally. So, it only makes sense that if you’re going to send a letter, you take the time to make it extra special. You might use special paper, add a wax seal to the back, or, in the case of this how-to, learn how to incorporate a bit of origami. 

For this project, we’re using origami to turn your letter into its own envelope. It’s a special twist and a welcome bit of know-how if you ever find yourself without an envelope. We’re showing two designs here (the second is a bit easier to execute than the first), both of which should comply with US Postal Service requirements for standard letter sizes, so you won’t have to pay extra postage to send them out. While these folds do make remarkably sturdy little envelopes, it would probably be wise to reinforce them with a bit of tape before sending out. 

Let’s get into how to do it. 

Standard Envelope

Note: This folding method is typically done with A4 paper. A4 paper is standard printer paper throughout much of the world, including Europe and Asia. This paper is slightly longer and more narrow, so we’ll first need to trim down a sheet of standard 8.5″ x 11″ to make this one work. 

Step 1: Cut to Size 

Cutting paper with knife along with pen and scale.

Remove a half-inch of paper from the long side of your letter. 

Step 2: Fold in Half 

Both hands kept on paper.

With the long side on top, fold in half left to right and then unfold. The idea is to create a center crease. 

Step 3: Fold Down Corners

Folded Corners of paper.

Fold the top right corner down to the center crease and then repeat with the top left corner. 

Step 4: Fold Bottom Up

Making triangle from paper by Folding.

Fold the bottom of your letter up to meet the base of the triangle you just made. 

Step 5: Fold Bottom Up Again

Making boat from paper by hands.

Fold the bottom up again, along the line that separates your bottom rectangle from the top triangle. 

Step 6: Fold the Top Down

Making cap from paper by Folding.

Fold the tip of your triangle down to meet the bottom edge. 

Step 7: Fold the Sides

Making cap from paper by Folding with hands.

Folding the sides in to create a square edge to the paper.

Fold the sides in to create a square edge to your envelope. I’ve added a dotted line on the right to show where to make the fold.

Folding the sides in to create a square edge to the envelope.

Repeat on the other side. 

Step 8: Fold Tabs Up

Envelope made with hand.

Take the tab you folded over in Step 6 and fold it up so that the crease line is roughly perpendicular to the line of your triangle piece.

Opening of Envelope.

It should be slightly less than square to the short side of your envelope.

Turning paper into Envelope.

Repeat with the other side.   

Step 9: Finish It Up

Opening the Envelope with hands.

Wrapping up the envelope with hands.

Lift up your triangle flap and then fold it back down over your tabs and under the flap at the base of your envelope. 

Envelope placed on table.

Envelope with Beveled Corners

Note: This style works fine with normal 8.5″ x 11″ printer paper. No trimming is necessary.

Step 1: Fold in half.

Both hands kept on paper.

With the long side on top, fold your letter in half left to right, then unfold. 

Step 2: Rotate and Fold Corners 

Folding right corner of paper with hand.

I’ve drawn a line on the middle crease just to help you see it better.

Folding the right corner almost to the middle of the page with hands.

Rotate the letter 90 degrees, so the short side is toward you. Fold the top right corner almost to the middle of the page, where your seam is. The goal is to have this fold stop about a half-inch away from the middle crease.

Folding adjacent corners of paper by hands.

Repeat with the opposite corner. 

Step 3: Fold Sides

Folding one side along with adjacent sides of paper.

Rotating the paper so that the long side is at the top.

Rotate so that the long side is once again at the top. Fold the top down toward the middle, leaving a half-inch gap between the edge of your folded corner and the folded side. 

Rotating the paper from all the sides.

Repeat with the bottom edge. 

Step 4: Fold Corners In

Squaring the corners of the paper by hands.
You should now have two square corners that are opposite to each other. Take one square corner and fold it to the opposite side of the letter so that the edge matches up with the middle crease of your paper.

Lifting the long flap of the paper by hand.

Tucking the corner of the paper under with the help of hands.

As you fold, lift the long flap and tuck the corner under.

Tucked corners of paper with hands.

Repeat with the other square corner. 

You should have two tucked-in corners, and you’re done!

Letter and envelope placed on table.

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