The Champagne Life on a DIY Budget Since 2007

Shoestring Stationery: Expired Calendar Envelopes

expired calendar envelopes DIY

As I recently found out from some of my favorite people on Twitter, Shoestringers are far from alone in our resolution to send more handwritten correspondence and care packages in 2010.

So, in honor of reviving this dying art and keeping “snail mail” afloat during the recession, I bring you two crafty, frugal, and upcycled DIY projects from my friend Claire — a San Francisco transplant now living year-round on the island of Martha’s Vineyard, who says she was inspired by the Griffin & Sabine series (by the marvelously talented illustrator and author Nick Bantock.)

Here are Claire’s projcet ideas and tips for upcycled, DIY stationery:



  • Medium stock graphical paper (from old calendars, catalogs, or magazines)
  • Construction paper or heavy printer paper (for facing)
  • Double-sided tape or glue stick
  • Sharp scissors
  • Solid color envelope labels, like those from Avery

To make the envelopes, I steamed open two existing envelopes to use as a pattern — one standard letter size for the outer envelope, one slightly smaller for the inside facing — but you can also find downloadable envelope patterns on the internet. For the outer (larger) envelopes, I used old calendars, magazine pages, anything that I found that had a cool design on it and seemed like it would hold up in the mail. For the inside facing, I used colored construction paper, but a heavier printer paper (like recycled resumes or exposed photo paper) would work, too. For both the outer envelope and the facing, I simply traced around the envelope pattern and then cut to size. The last step is to either glue or tape the envelope sides shut (using an existing, intact envelope as your guide) and make some cool letter paper to stuff inside. Use the Avery or other solid sticker labels to affix your recipient’s address and your return address.



  • Printer paper or lined white notepaper
  • Scanned or copyright-free digital images (300 dpi or higher resolution)

To make the stationery, I scanned pictures from coffee table books and old pulp paperbacks onto my computer, but you can also download cool pictures from Internet, provided they’re in the public domain or copyright-free. (I happen to really like old 50’s movie posters.)

Advanced users who feel comfortable with Photoshop or another photo viewing and editing program can simply size the image to 8″ x 11″, format the transparency, and print directly onto the plain or lined printer paper.

For the rest of us, use a new Microsoft Word document and remove the margins. Then, import your image (Insert > Picture > From File). Click on the photo within the document and drag the bottom right corner of the image to the bottom right corner of the Word doc, so the image fills the page. To fade the picture so it just lays quietly in the background, adjust the Brightness to between 65% and 75%, depending on your image (Format > Picture > Picture > Brightness). Hit Print and, Voila! You have totally unique, totally custom (and totally eco-friendly if you’re recycling your paper) stationery.

Story Copyright 2010, Shoestring LLC.