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How to Make a Traditional Origami Envelope

How to Make a Traditional Origami Envelope post image

This origami envelope is a traditional origami (Menko) from Japan. It looks plain and simple, and it is! But don’t let such simplicity deceive you and maybe even prevent you from folding it.

The process of making this origami envelope is a short and peaceful folding meditation. Engaging with it will help you unwind and relax after a day of hard work. I promise that once you make ONE you will want to make many. Just breathe long, take it easy, and let the worries in your world drop away.

Once you’re finished learning this model you’ll hold a classic and elegant Japanese origami model in your hands. Invite some peace into you life.

Here you can watch the video demonstration and fold the Menko along with me. It will be a delightful six-minute period in our day!

Suggestions and Tips

If you’d like to use this origami envelope for a practical purpose here are a few ideas.

  • Find some beautiful origami paper, fold it, place needles and thread inside, and carry it in your wallet or bag. This simple sewing kit will come in handy at some point. Believe me!
  • It is also useful as a lovely origami packet to hold seeds to give those friends of ours who like to garden.
  • Use it to send a secret love note… don’t we all at times need sweet, lovely words to take us out of the doldrums?
  • Use it to hold an invitation… a perfect origami model for a wedding party or even for a party of two!

The finished Menko is a square whose sides measures a third of the square piece of paper started with. For example: a 6″ x 6″ piece of square paper will yield a 2″ x 2″ square envelope.

If you think of other uses for this little origami envelope,
please share it with everyone in the comment section below.

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Would you like to learn other origami boxes, containers or envelopes?
Click here for origami video instructions.

{ 70 comments… add one }
  • Kim July 13, 2021, 2:18 pm

    I will use this to put my student’s lost tooth in so they can take it home safely. I teach first grade, and I will use it a lot! Thank you for the clear and easy instructions.

    • Leyla Torres July 14, 2021, 6:00 pm

      What a wonderful idea, Kim! Thank you for sharing it with us. Welcome to Origami Spirit!

  • Karla January 12, 2021, 4:52 pm

    I use it to store seeds :)

  • Kezzi June 24, 2020, 11:21 am

    Thanks so much for this clear (and very relaxing to watch) tutorial! I’ve recently started making eco-friendly silver jewellery, and these menko make the perfect unique packaging for my pieces! I use sturdy recycled Kraft paper which enables me to hand-paint my logo onto them. Everyone who buys my jewellery is so delighted with the little box that they get to keep as well. Thanks again! :)

    • Leyla Torres June 24, 2020, 12:40 pm

      Hi Kezzi,
      I’m so happy this menko envelop is of use to you in your jewelry business.
      Thank you for sharing with us how you use it!


  • Anne Marie December 27, 2018, 6:57 am

    Thanks a lot, nice, well explain ! Bravo

  • Leyla Torres April 12, 2017, 11:08 am

    Thank you Dianne. Happy the menko worked for you!

  • Magda February 8, 2017, 7:12 am

    Thank you Leyla for the instructions, they were very helpful. I am using the envelopes for seeds, herbs and spices, buttons.

    • Leyla Torres March 3, 2017, 11:55 am

      You are welcome Magda, And thank you for sharing how you’re using this envelope!

  • Jeanne October 19, 2016, 1:12 pm

    Thank you Leyla for your instructive video on how to make a traditional origami envelope. I just finished making these origami envelopes for my Bible study group. I added a scripture verse and some seeds, as the scripture verse I included was about planting seeds. The traditional origami envelopes were very well received by those in the group.

    Other ideas for these traditional origami envelopes include adding a heart-shaped piece of chocolate or a sprig of mistletoe for Christmas.

    Leyla, thank again for taking the time to make the video on how to make a traditional origami envelope. They are easy to make and make great gifts.

    • Leyla Torres November 1, 2016, 3:05 pm

      I’m happy you like this and love the meaningful way in which you used it. Thank you for sharing!

  • Andrea Smith September 24, 2016, 12:17 am

    This was the best origami tutorial! Great instructions and easy to follow! Thank you!

    • Leyla Torres October 5, 2016, 3:43 pm

      Thank you Andrea, I’m Happy you like it!

  • Judy August 18, 2016, 10:43 pm

    I cut a 12 inch x 12 inch down to 10 inch square and then used that to make an envelope for $50 bill that I had folded into a heart.

  • Jessica December 19, 2015, 5:53 pm

    Hello! I’ve come across your instructions multiple times looking for a variety of folding paper needs. Yours are always so easy to watch – thank you!

    I don’t know if it is the ‘common’ use of this fold, but my friend taught me this years ago and I made boxes and wall art from it by slitting the back and gluing together. I had forgotten the fold, though, and only knew it as “japanese mat fold” because you make a paper mat from it, so I am so glad I found your video to remind me!

    She showed me to cut an X on the flat back of the folded up menko (so you get 4 triangle tabs that open out while the front stays folded.) These tabs you insert into adjacent ‘menko’ and glue in place. Glued together they make beautiful textural looking ‘mats’ – we put these on the wall as art.

    Also, you can make boxes from the same slit back triangle tab technique – just glue the ‘sides’ of the boxes together first, then glue them at the angles to create the box shape.

    I will try find some photos of these works to send you. Thank you again – I thought I’d never make these again due to my poor memory!

    • Leyla Torres December 19, 2015, 9:10 pm

      Hi Jessica,

      I think that I have read about what you are describing for the menko. I don’t know if I have seen it, but I’ma curious now. I can imagine they look beautiful.
      If you find photos please do send a link. Thank you for writing!


  • Stefanie October 27, 2015, 8:14 pm

    Thank you so much Leyla, for offering your stylish & authentic way of creating Origami, just exactly what i was looking for and it brightens up the soul :)

    Love , Stefanie

  • Ella August 19, 2015, 7:37 am

    Wonderful idea Leyla. I loved it a lot. Very easy to make and an amazing model. We could actually store some money in this envelope. It will come in handy for sure. We could store coins too. When we want to buy something from the market, we could just fill this envelope with some money instead of carrying a big wallet. It is small and is easy to carry. I would be extremely happy if you share this with your friends. Thank you so much.

  • Wies July 30, 2015, 2:58 pm

    Hi Leyla,
    Thank you for your great tutorials. I shared this one on my blog because I made a card with this model and wanted to show other peopel how to make this.

    • Leyla Torres July 30, 2015, 9:31 pm

      Hi Wies, Your blog post and photos are delightful. Thank you for sharing this menko fold and for sharing the link so that we can visit it!

  • pat July 19, 2015, 7:57 pm

    A BIG BIG thank you, long time I have been to your website, the best ever seen about origami, very clear, well explained, beautiful and useful origami… I love to do origami mostly simple ones and practical…I was looking for some seeds bags origami as it is the time to collect flower seeds…
    To thank you, I would like even to send you some seeds if you would like some, in case you have a garden… Please let me know, it would be a lovely way to thank you from sharing your great origami skills that you share so generously.
    warm wishes

  • Kleatus April 22, 2015, 4:11 am

    Thank You Leyla
    I’ve been trying to find a simple yet mildly secure means of holding trinkets, coins and the like as a means of presenting gifts and keeping things separated for specific purposes (fifty dollar bill for this weeks movie run set aside in plain sight as though a simple decoration until time to go.) what ever comes to mind. “Oh look honey. You just walked right over this. Did you notice it? Look how intricate it is. fells a little heve for a simple wad of paper why don’t you open it out flat and see if any thing is inside.”

  • daria March 31, 2015, 12:14 pm


    Just found your video(s). They are super! Many thanks for the effort you make to provide us with comprehensive, easy to follow instruction! I make Chinese Sewing Books, (Zhen Xian Bao) and this will certainly be part of my folded paper arsenal from now on!

  • Ai Rin August 23, 2014, 3:39 am

    Hi Leyla,

    Thank you for the video! Your tutorial was really easy to follow. Will be teaching my students how to make menko. I am sure they will be love it.

    Ai Rin

    • Leyla Torres August 25, 2014, 11:27 am

      Hi Ai RIn, I’m glad you like it and will share with your students!

  • Anonymous April 26, 2014, 1:11 pm

    Thanks for the tutorial! Simple and easy. Used this for collecting ‘raffle tickets’. Once again, thank you!

    – Laura

  • Shelly L April 22, 2014, 10:50 pm

    Thank you for the video! The tooth fairy used this to enclose coins.

    • Leyla Torres April 23, 2014, 9:27 am

      Hi Shelly,
      I’m happy the Tooth Fairy found a good use for this envelope.
      Thank you for sharing!

  • Anna Maurer March 6, 2014, 3:55 pm

    What a treasure trove of origami love and spirit I have now found amongst your website <3 …. I make my first menko, and to put in him I put some small origami paper, so I can have it in my bag, to make my baby cranes for Senbazaru :)… it will keep it nice and tidy! Origami within origami. …. Heehee!

  • Susan January 6, 2014, 4:40 pm

    I am using this envelope for a Christmas present for a tea drinking friend. I have purchased various loose leaf teas and will encase each on in one of the envelopes and put them in a decorative mug with other sweet treats. Thank you for the great instructional video!

  • Amena K November 19, 2013, 2:28 pm

    I have been experimenting with different handmade box, pouch and bags for the past few days in paper and cloth. This is eighth design I tried. I love this box! The seams are perfect, no gluing required and simple to make in a few minutes. I have made in origami and scrap paper (12 x 12). The key to nice lines on heavier paper is using a bone folder. Much Thanks. Will be using your design to package handmade jewelry.

  • Andrew C August 23, 2013, 5:29 pm

    hi Mrs. Torres, i know this is the wrong video but on the origami printable designs does it use a lot of ink when you print it.
    Thank you!

  • megan hicks August 14, 2013, 1:12 pm


    Hi Leyla —
    Thanks so much for this blog. Every time I get a notification of a new post, I follow the link immediately. I love your tutorials. They’re beautifully produced, and your pacing is perfect for following along.

    For years, I’ve been using the menko as a “bead” for earrings. I start with paper that’s 3″ square. For a neck piece, I’ll use 5″-6″ inch squares. They’re elegant, lightweight, classic. It’s one of my favorite origami earring designs.

    • Leyla Torres August 14, 2013, 9:54 pm

      Hi Megan,
      It sounds like a very creative way to use the menko. If you have a link to a foto of your earrings, i’d love to see it!

  • dedalina June 30, 2013, 9:21 pm

    Gracias por compartir tan bien tus habilidades y conocimientos. Soy docente jubilada, es este el momento de disfrutar con mis nietos esta hermosa técnica de trabajo con papel. Siempre desee hacer un curso pero no encontraba quién me enseñara. Un beso grande desde La Plata, Argentina.

    • Leyla Torres July 1, 2013, 4:19 am

      Hola Dedalina, bievenida a Origami Spirit. Que lo disfrutes con tus nietos!

  • Rosabee June 29, 2013, 1:05 am

    Hi Leyla!
    Thank you for this tutorial, your clear directions make this envelope a pleasure to fold (my desk is now covered in them!) I am impressed by how secure and compact the envelope is, and how many uses it could have, both practical and in gift-wrapping (it would be such fun for someone to open!)
    Here are some of my completed ones: http://pinterest.com/pin/349380883562741666/

    I was also inspired by this envelope to make some flower designs! they are based on the partially complete model and can still hold a message inside:

    So far I have used the envelope to gift-wrap beaded rings, safely keep broken jewellery together, carry spare hair pins + hair elastics, carry spare teabags, store sequins and tiny shells.

    Thanks as always for bring inspiration through your site Leyla,
    all the best, Rose

    • Leyla Torres June 29, 2013, 7:14 am

      Dear Rose,
      Such lovely ideas! It looks like this menko is full of possibilities. Carlos Montenegro also suggests to make a lotus flower by opening the menko as you did, and nesting smaller ones inside. Stay tuned to my coming post for another origami model made from the menko. Thank you for sharing your creativity here with us!

  • Léa June 24, 2013, 7:20 pm

    Leyla, podemos tb colocar saquinhos de chá, fazendo assim belos convites para um chá de bebê, ou mesmo chá de cozinha.

  • Léa June 24, 2013, 7:07 pm

    Querida Leyla, seu trabalho é maravilhoso! Eu adoro seus vídeos e aprendo muito com você!
    um grande abraço de uma origamiga brasileira!

  • Bonny June 21, 2013, 10:22 am

    I love these little envelopes-so quick and easy to make. I wish I had known how to do these when my children were younger. These little packets would have been perfect for them to have used for the tooth fairy! Put the little tooth in the envelope, put it under their pillows, and await her arrival. I am also thinking they would be beautiful with a monogram sticker on the front and used at weddings to hold rice or birdseed They could also be used for holding a special candy treat and placed on a guest’s pillow. Thank you so much for your wonderful videos. They are the highlight of my week!

    • Leyla Torres June 21, 2013, 3:55 pm

      Wow Bonny! All great ideas. I will have ti make a list and add it. The Tooth Fairy. .. so sweet!!

  • Kathryn June 18, 2013, 4:59 pm

    How about a CD envelope? A 15″ square works well. I used heavier marbled paper. Mark 5 ” on one edge if you don’t want to fiddle with an S curve. I’ve seen this before in an old book, but Leyla, you make it more interesting, the way you present & demonstrate. Thank you.

    • Leyla Torres June 18, 2013, 6:19 pm

      Hi Kathryn. I love your idea and instructions to make it into a CD envelope, thank you for sharing the exact measurements.

  • Susan June 18, 2013, 12:51 pm

    Loved the video. I ran my origami paper through my printer and printed a birthday wish on the little square inside. It will be a real surprise for my friends who have June birthdays.

    • Leyla Torres June 18, 2013, 1:47 pm

      This is a lovely idea, Susan. Thank you for sharing… My birthday is in October ;-)

  • Moises Poveda June 17, 2013, 8:18 pm

    Thanks a lot for your origami envelope ! Greetings from Costa Rica in Central America! Do you have any video with two colliding cubes?

  • Moises Poveda June 17, 2013, 8:09 pm

    Greetings from Costa Rica in Central America! am so excited about learning new items in origami tecnics from you! The origami envelope is beatiful and simple to learn. Thanks a lot! Do you have some video about two colliding cubes?

  • armanda ferreira June 17, 2013, 7:23 pm

    Boa noite!
    Os modelos que apresenta são sempre muito sugestivos e bonitos.
    Grata pelos ensinamentos, que são sempre realizados de uma forma muito esclarecedora.

  • Renee Schaeren June 17, 2013, 6:48 pm

    Hi Leyla,
    This envelope has been a favourite of mine for a long time, I find it really addictive to fold.I have never seen this way of folding it, but can’t remember where I initially picked it up. From tiny ones to larger ones all great fun. Use rubber stamps on the folds, then unforld and put together again, keeps children intrigued. As for stuff to hide inside…. postage stamps, mini photos, stickers, coins, address labels are a few that come to mind. Rich Beech transforms it into a folding purse, but you probably know this and will show us another time. It’s always such a pleasure to find one of your tutorials in my inbox.

  • Busir June 17, 2013, 12:57 pm

    I started with your little frogs and made 7 then your accordion box,i’d to stop with 5 as i didńt have enough réversible paper.yesterday made the éléphant which i found difficulté yet your vidéos are perfect.And just now enjoyed making the envelops .thank you it´s great fun.y.s

    • Leyla Torres June 17, 2013, 1:43 pm

      Great Busir, I’m happy you are enjoying the videos!

  • Marsha Sue Pitman June 17, 2013, 10:31 am

    Leyla, This is a lovely, clever model and your tutorial videos are so concise and easy to follow! These are very nice little purses that would serve well to uniquely deliver cash for gifts or gift cards for stores or restaurants, among loads of other things. Thank you. I will be using this model, for sure!

    • Leyla Torres June 17, 2013, 10:49 am

      Thank you Marsha, for sharing your ideas with us!

  • Maya Sara Matthew June 17, 2013, 3:15 am

    I just thought it would make a lovely potpourri holder which could then go into a lingerie drawer or the linen cupboard.
    Thanks for the easy to follow video Leyla, I look forward to your posts.

    • Leyla Torres June 17, 2013, 7:22 am

      Potpourri in an origami evelope to place in a drawer! Ohh I like it Maya. We could distribute potpourri-filled holders as favors at our next tea party for our lady friends.

  • katrina June 17, 2013, 1:53 am

    Thank you for your lovely videos, Leyla. I am new to origami and I am enjoying your tutorials so much. I can’t wait to make this envelope…when my cat moves from in front of the computer I’ll be able to. :)

    • Leyla Torres June 17, 2013, 7:36 am

      Hi Katrina, I know every thing about a little kitty in front of my computer:-) He might want to learn how to fold paper too… perhaps you want to fold the little envelope and place a treat for him inside it. It will be a game for him trying to open it…or would it be too much torture for him…hmmm what do you think?

  • Edna June 17, 2013, 1:32 am

    Leyla, I am a subscriber of your blog, I love origami, and specially like the way your demonstrate the procedure of how to fold in each step, the speed is not too fast or too slow to follow, very precise and simple to understand, even younger people can easily pick up the basic skill to entertain them. And most important is that most of the figures you teach we do not find in anyway else. They are new to me, although origami has been one of my favorite hot searches at all times. I am very much in love with this Menko today, I can’t help but write this comment, many thanks for sharing and teaching.

    • Leyla Torres June 17, 2013, 7:54 am

      Hi Edna, thank you for your kind words and feedback. I love been able to teach origami through these videos, and appreciate hearing back from people, even when it is about things that might need to be fixed or improved.
      But it is very satisfying to hear that you are learning fine using them as they are. I have plans to remake a couple of videos to clarify some parts. Any way… Thank you again!

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