Monday, January 24, 2011

recycled mailer tutorial

These mailers are a great way to use up those pesky grocery bags that seem to pile up so quickly. They're sturdy, water-resistant, and earth-friendly. What's not to love?

{if you're one of those folks who always remembers to take the reusable bags to the store, pat yourself on the back and see if you can get some bags from a friend or neighbor}

What you'll need:
  • some paper shopping bags (you can get at least two large mailers out of one standard bag)
  • some plastic shopping bags
  • a couple of security envelopes with aesthetically pleasing insides
  • scissors and/or pinking shears
  • an iron, ironing board and some parchment paper or printer paper (for fusing bags)
  • sewing machine (and thread)
  • a gluestick
  • packing tape
Step 1: Fuse your plastic bags.

For the mailers, fuse each bag individually and then fuse two bags together, overlapping the edges by a couple of inches. That'll give you a piece of plastic big enough for a large mailer.

Step 2: Decide on the dimensions of your mailer, and double the height (or width, depending on whether your want your opening on the long side or the short side). For example, I chose to make an 8 1/2 x 11 mailer, so I needed a piece of paper grocery bag that was 17 inches x 11 inches.

Fold your paper in half. Now, fold your fused plastic in half and place it inside the paper.

clear as mud?

You should end up with something that looks like this. Don't worry about trimming the edges yet.

Step 3
: Sew a straight stitch down each side that is perpendicular to your folded edge. Use the longest stitch setting available, or you'll just perforate the paper. Also, if you find yourself sewing on paper a lot, keep a needle just for paper-- it'll save your fabric needles from premature dulling.

When you're done sewing, it should look like this:

Step 4:
Use pinking shears to trim the edges-- just don't cut the folded edge!! (regular scissors would be fine here, I just happen to love pinked edges) Like so:

See, now you've got a plastic pocket inside a paper pocket:

Step 5:
Cut some rectangularish shapes out of your security envelopes for the addresses, and stick 'em on with a glue stick.

It would be totally impractical to sit down and make only one of these every time you need a mailer. But, it doesn't take much more time to sew up a big stack of them assembly-line style than it does to just make one, and then you can just grab a mailer when you need it.

Did I mention that they're free? And earth-friendly? And completely customizable?

Basically, they're the bees knees when it comes to mailing supplies.

To use
It's easier to do your writing before you fill the envelope. Fill out the mailing and return address "labels". If you feel so inclined, include a little note on the back reminding your receiver that the mailer is recycled and recyclable. Or doodle a picture. Or write something in a secret code, 'cause you're cool like that.

After you've written in the addresses, cover the mailing labels with a layer of packing tape (not pictured) to protect them from water damage, and/or to make sure that they stay securely attached.

Then just fill your mailer with whatever it is you want to send and sew the opening closed. Now, in the mail it goes!!

P.S. Yes, you can really send these through the mail. I've mailed many of them myself, and they've all arrived successfully.


Lindy Louise said...

okay, seriously brilliant! i totally love this and think it would be a really cool activity to do with my boys--creative + environmentally conscious=awesome.

Gena said...

This is great! Thank you so much for posting the instructions. I can't wait to make these.

Liz Noonan said...


Julie said...

This is a great idea! I'm totally going to try this. I put a link on my blog-

Nancy said...

What a perfect way to ship my upcycled products to customers! Thanks for posting this terrific tutorial! I can't wait to try it!

Gena said...

I mentioned these envelopes in an interview about my green practices:

Haven't had a chance to make them yet, though.