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Tri-Fold Greeting Cards

Tri means three so you simply fold the paper evenly in thirds. This means you need to start with a piece of paper that is three times larger than the final card. The right side is folded inward first and the left side lays on folded right side. This one can get complicated though because you need to measure and plan ahead to make the thirds work right.

One of the first considerations for me is how is this card going to get mailed. Pre-made envelopes are nice because they are often cheaper than a sheet of paper crafting cardstock and weight a lot less. They also usually meet postage regulations for sizes, so you donít have to figure out if your length and width exceed the maximum or if it's rectangular enough to be sent at the 1 oz rate. A2 is the size term for a standard envelope that fits a quarter sheet of 8 1/2 x 11 paper.

Letís plan a tri-fold to fit an A2 envelope. The envelope fits a 4 1/4 x 5 1/2 card normally. We need one dimension to be three times larger. That means unless whe change the size we either need one side to be 12 3/4 or we need one side to be 16 1/2. Both of those are larger than the paper I have on hand but 12 3/4 is close.

Letís attack the problem from another angle and start with a 12 x 5 1/2 inch sheet of paper since that's fits what you should have on hand. Twelve nicely divides by 3 into a 4 x 5 1/2 inch card. The extra 1/4 of an inch in the envelope isnít that much so this size nicely fits into the A2 envelope.

What if you want to use an A10 business envelope? There are several alternatives. The first is to just tri-fold a regular sheet of paper, much like a business letter. The problem with this though is that if you plan to do a lot of matting this will leave you with a very odd base size to work with in inches (3 11/16 x 8 1/2). This may or may not be a problem for your design. But consider the sheet on the inside for the words. If you wanted to leave an 1/8 inch border all around, you would need to cut a sheet for the words to be 3 7/16 x 8 1/4 inches to have a perfect border. Not really a problem if you understand fractions and the ruler.

If you donít understand fractions, an easier way to deal with an A10 trifold is to figure out a nice size that fits and work from there. For example say you want a 3 1/2 inch wide base, you need to start with a 10 1/2 inch piece of cardstock (10 1/2 = 3 1/2 times 3). That's easy and doable with a standard sheet of cardstock. Alternatively, you can go for a 4 inch wide base, starting with a 12 inch piece of cardstock. If you go for the 4 inch wide base be aware that a standard A10 business envelope is 9 1/2 x 4 1/8 inches so the card will need to be very flat when you are done if you want the flap on the envelope to close nicely. What you probably really want to do is a 3 3/4 inch base, which if you multiple that by 3 means you need to start with an 11 1/4 inch piece of cardstock.

Ok so there isnít an easy way around not knowing fractions for this card and maybe that's why you don't see it used more, but at least with this last method you are dealing with less abstract quantities.

Here is a just do it summary of the A10 trifold options, without all the explanation of why:

  • Start with an 8 1/2 x 11 piece of cardstock and score at 3 11/16 from each edge. Inside words would go on a 3 7/16 x 8 1/4 piece of cardstock.
  • Start with an 8 1/2 x 11 piece of cardstock. Cut down to 8 1/2 x 10 1/2. Score at 3 1/2 inches from each edge. The inside words go on a 3 1/4 x 8 1/4 cardstock.
  • Start with a 12 x 12 piece of cardstock. Cut down to 8 1/2 x 11 1/4. Score at 3 3/4 inches from the edge. The inside words go on a piece of 3 1/2 x 8 1/4 cardstock.
  • Start with a 12 x 12 piece of cardstock. Cut down to 8 1/2 x 12. Score at 4 inches from edge. Keep card design flat so envelope will close. The inside words go on 3 3/4 x 8 1/4 cardstock.

Here's a pictorial view of how to fold this card:

Read how to fold a Z-Fold Card.


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Last modified 05/18/12
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