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DIY Expanding Envelope & a Freebie

I don't consider myself to be a crafty person at all, but since discovering blog world, I have gained mountains of inspiration that has pushed me to stretch and challenge myself to do more.  My recent DIY project did just that.  It's pretty and it's organized...sigh...it's the best of both worlds.  My heart is fluttering with excitement!
The Background
In my quest to clean house, I recently bought a great new desktop file box to keep my current year's records {financial statements, bills, etc.} in order.  This year, I adopted a new system of organizing my paper and wanted to find a better way to file all those pesky little receipts that seem to find themselves everywhere.  In years past, I've tried a couple different methods of organizing receipts.

I tried to use a small accordion file to hold all my receipts and sorted it by month.  That little file quickly overflowed and just became too bulky, not to mention I still couldn't find what I was looking for quickly or easily when I needed it.  So I tried filing the receipts with my other files {also filed by month} in their previous home, the portable file box.  This system also crashed and burned.  Those receipts were too small and too many to just leave them lying in and amongst the regular files I had.  Needless to say my entire filing system wasn't working for me up to this point and corralling my receipts was just one small part of that.

This year I am filing my paper by categories {everyday, wealth, wellness, home & fun} and within each of those categories lives my specific life.  Receipts would belong in the everyday file folder, but I needed them to be more specific, so I also categorized the filing of my receipts within the receipts folder {bank, clothing, eating out, grocery, home goods & kids stuff}.  I determined that each receipt category would need to have its own envelope for easy referencing later.

The Mission
Now that I planned out how to organize my receipts, I needed to contain them.  I hunted around what seems like every office supply store and website, and nearly settled so many times for almost the right envelope.  But no, I was determined.  How hard could this be?  It's just an envelope, right!?!  Well so I thought.  I had many requirements for one small envelope and it turns out no one makes them at all.  So that meant that I was going to have to make it myself.  I guess the crafty part of me was forced out due to lack of options.

Here is what I was looking for in an envelope:  needs to be expandable, slim enough to file several envelopes side by side in my interior file folder, tall enough to remain inside the folder without covering the file folder's label, and the pattern needed to fit onto a letter size {8.5" x 11"} paper, so I could save the pattern to make more envelopes in the future.  So in my hunt I began to search for DIY envelope inspiration.

My online retail search kept drawing me to these envelopes, which were the closest match to what I needed, so I began to study the inner workings of this envelope and make a few prototypes.

The first couple of experiments were done free hand.  When I felt like I had something close to what I needed, I began drawing up a blue print on my computer.  Next was finding paper, and this was going to be the fun part because I got to be all girly and crafty and choose any paper I wanted; however, what started out as exciting quickly turned into jaw dropping.  Now because I am not typically a crafty girl, staring at a wall full of paper is terribly overwhelming especially when you have a 40% off coupon in your bag and clearance stickers scattered all over the place.  This paper is less that $1 each in most cases, but for some reason I couldn't wrap my brain around picking 6 different styles of paper, just 6!  Eventually, I bought a 12" x 12" stack collection similar to the one pictured below and decided to get to work.

The DIY Part {with step by step tutorial}
First I took the latest prototype I had drawn up and tested the pattern on a sheet of the brand new stack.  I picked my least favorite design knowing it would be a rough draft.  Having said that, figuring out the exact sizing from concept to construction was the most difficult part because I had to consider a few things.  Where to put the final seal, how to close the envelope, and how they fit in the folder as a group are just a few of the speed bumps I hit along the way.  It took a couple of tries, but I finally got just the right size and shape.  The only sad thing this is that the new and final template would not fit on a letter size paper, but I'm okay with that since I just made an extra pattern to keep as a master.  Let's see it already!

Materials needed: Pattern Template, 12" x 12" cardstock paper, scissors, pencil, ruler, tape or glue, label
  1. Take the pattern and trace around it on the back of the paper
  2. Mark the expanding seams on each end of the envelope
  3. Connect the marks
  4. Cut
  5. Score expanding seams with scissors edge just enough to aid in folding
  6. Fold sides along the scoring
  7. Secure loose ends {I used tape because it was all I had...told you I'm not crafty, I don't even own glue}
  8. Cut a slit to hold envelope closed
  9. Insert receipts and close envelope
  10. File envelope away and smile
DIY Mission: Accomplished!
When a DIY project goes well, it feels so great!  Not only did I solve my filing problem, but I used my own resources to put together what I needed all by myself.  No wonder so many people DIY, it's addicting!  Let's take another look at these little babies in action and see if they met all my other requirements.

The bottom and sides expand for those categories that tend to bulk up fast

The envelope is slim enough to fit several envelopes side by side {6 envelopes in 1 folder, nice and cozy}

Perfect length for remaining in the folder

Labeled with same size label used for the file folder {bonus for efficiency!}

Pretty paper to distinguish one category from another {bonus for pretty!}

Filed so neatly, I could cry {tears of joy, of course}

A group shot for good measure

When it comes to DIY and crafting, I may be a novice, but it doesn't take long to see the benefits and reap the rewards of doing something yourself.  I really grew on this project and have come to think that the crafty girl in me has been waiting to be released.  Slowly, that is.  I'm still terrible at cutting and need lots and lots of time for research and development.  After all is said and done, all but one of my requirements were met by doing it myself, but I was left with something even better in return.  It just goes to show you that you never know what you can do until you do it!

What do you think, challenge complete?  Did this inspire you to take on a DIY project of your own or pretty something up?  Let's hear about it!

*** Update! *** Thanks to a good friend's suggestion, I am including my first printable!  My gift to you: a template pattern of the envelope you saw here!  Click the button below for a free PDF version of the envelope, complete with notes and instructions!  You're welcome!

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