Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Sleeves vs. Envelopes

Luxury Handmade Paper Sleeves by Almost Amsterdam
Luxury Handmade Envelopes with Modern Pointed Flap by Almost Amsterdam

When I am approached by people who have questions about my custom envelopes and paper sleeves/pouches/pockets (blog post found here) I am often not sure whether someone is in need of a paper sleeve/pouch/pocket or a proper envelope. Very often the cause for the confusion is a limited knowledge of English or differences in meaning of the words in different locations/countries, as enquiries come from all over the world after all! But I have given this some thought and came to the conclusion that the traditional distinction between an envelope and a sleeve was lost because of technology: vinyl records were replaced by tapes and later CD's and handwritten or printed letters by e-mail.

I will be the first to admit that language is (and should be) a living entity, so I am perfectly OK with the fact that we refer to those little white paper thingies that we use to protect cd's as "CD sleeves", while they are, technically speaking, envelopes and not sleeves (if they have a flap). Traditionally phonographs and vinyl records were stored in a "sleeve" - a square paper container with one side open, so one could easily remove a record from its protective cover and return it again after use.

When we started to listen to our music on CD's we probably just carried on to use the word "sleeve" from our vinyl record days to refer to the protective cover, without even giving a second thought to the fact that it should probably be called a "CD envelope" if it has a flap! Although I realise that this is something that just "happened", it is, however, complicating things for me and clients who are interested in a custom-made sleeve or envelope.

I thought I'll un-complicate things by writing this little post and for practical purposes I would like to request anyone who is interested in a custom sleeve or envelope to please stick to the original distinction between the two items as explained in this post. This will help me to answer your questions and work out prices without delay:

  • are open on one side. 
  • can be used for inserts that are either taller or wider than the sleeve (depending on whether the opening of the sleeve is at the top or on the side).
  • are often purely decorative.
  • can be handy to keep the different cards and/or envelopes of an invitation suite together.
  • can add that extra special touch to your invitations.
  • cannot be mailed without being placed in an envelope, as the contents will fall out in the mail.

  • come in square or rectangular shape, traditionally with four flaps that fold to the middle.
  • have a closure (traditionally the top or side flap that often comes with gum or adhesive) so it can be sealed.
  • serve as protection for letters, cards, etc.
  • are more suitable for items of a discrete or private nature.
  • are suitable to be mailed, although rules with regard to format and size will usually apply.



If you are interested in custom envelopes or sleeves, please send me the following information:
  • Quantity required
  • Paper preference
  • Dimensions required (width and height)
  • Throat at top or on the side?
  • Information on the style required (For envelopes describe the flaps and for sleeves the throat/opening) 
  • It may be useful to send me a picture as well. An image off the internet or an actual envelope in your possession may be useful. Or simply make a rough sketch on a piece of paper and send me a photo of the sketch, even if the sketch is messy!)

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