Origami Mini Jotter

Sarah B. has been one of our most prolific site contributors lately, by way of her helpful advice and folding templates, and has impressed me time and again with her thoroughness and unique perspective. I guess I shouldn't have been surprised by her article submission, the ultimate in combining paper craft with planning. - DJ]

And now for the post that you've all been waiting for, Origami Mini Jotter or How to make your very own Mini Jotter out of a regular old piece of paper! It's fun, it's easy, and it's even useful.

Here's what you'll need:
  • Flat surface
  • One piece of standard weight letter sized or A4 paper
  • Folding tool - something to press the creases
  • Ruler or straight edge
  • Slicing tool
  • Double sided tape (optional)

Folding instructions

  1. Fold and then unfold the paper length-wise. Fold down a corner using the center fold as a guide.
  2. Fold down the other corner, and then fold the bottom up to meet the apex.
  3. This is what you should have in front of you now.
  4. Fold the right and left sides in to meet in the middle.
  5. Fold the flap down.
  6. Fold the bottom up about 1 inch or 2.54 centimeters.
  7. Tuck the top flap into the bottom fold.
  8. Fold the apex down and tuck it in.

Now you have an envelope that you could use to carry business cards or other secret stuff. To turn this into a Mini Jotter, keep reading...

  1. Unfold the envelope. To help give strength to the slots you are about to cut, you can put a piece of double stick tape underneath the flaps. You'll be slicing about a 1/2 inch from the top and bottom folds, so center your pieces of tape accordingly.
  2. Fold the corners back in and turn the paper over. (The circle shows the area that will end up being "front" of the jotter.)
  3. Using your straightedge and slicing tool (or just wing it), cut slots about a 1/2 inch from the top and bottom folds.
  4. Refold your jotter. Optional: It helps keep the envelope from flexing if you put some more double sided tape where the small black arrows are before the tuck the top flap back into the bottom fold.
I've found that if I trim the paper down to 7.5 by 11 inches, it makes a better end product size. You can also use more tape in various places to strengthen and secure the jotter. I recommend using average weight paper (20-24lb); heavier paper will be hard to fold and can end up being a bit bulky. Feel free to experiment with papers of different colors and textures, though.

Congratulations, you're finished! You've got a sturdy envelope with several pockets for cards, plus a holder on the front, jotter-style:


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Mathmatical Observations

How to determine the paper size for the final product (I think)

Your final Jotter ends up half as wide as the paper you start from.
So your 7 1/2 inch wide paper would produce a Jotter 3 3/4 inches wide.

Now for the tricky part. Based on observations of unfolded products and some Wild-A**-Guessing, I think it is this: To get a Jotter H units high by W units wide, the paper needs to be 2*W units wide by 2*H + W + 2F units long where F is the size of the flap (1 inch in your example)

Working backwards with F=1, W=3.75 and the total height = 11, the height of the final envelope calculates to 2 3/8 inches. And the one I folded up is just about that big.

If I want something for 3x5 cards, let's add 1/2 inch to each dimension for thickness considerations. So the desired final size is 5.5" wide by 3.5" tall.
So I need 11" wide paper (2*5.5)
And I need it to be 14.5" tall (2*3.5) + 5.5 + (2*1)

OK, so I took an 11x14.5 piece of paper and folded it up and it was almost perfect. A 1" flap is too small.

So, rather than re-calculating, I just used a full 11x17 inch page and "eyeballed" the flap fold with an index card to get even margins.

The final result was very nice.

I hope you all enjoyed the presentation. There will be a quiz next period that will count for a serious percentage of your final grade.


Nice hack!

Nice hack! I'd try it out if I had a piece of 11x17 paper :( How sturdy is the writing surface on the larger size? It's quite sturdy on the small version.


Writing surface

For a better writing surface, I could either keep a stack of cards in it or put a piece of stiff plastic behind it.

For a test, you could tape two 8.5x11's together :)

I lucked out by finding an open ream in my workplace's printer room.

Larger paper

I did just that, ygor, I taped two pieces of regular sized paper together and made the larger envelope. Fun!


Afraid to Unfold It

Sarah, I am so proud of myself for following the first eight steps, although I was briefly lost at step five trying to find the "flap". However, I did not give up! Now I have an envelope that closely resembles your picture. No small feat for the man that cannot get his cereal box closed because the flap keeps popping out of the slit!!

Now I am faced with the difficult decision of whether to be satisfied with this tremendous accomplishment, or press on to transform it into a jotter. Right now I'm afraid to unfold this masterpiece. But the day is young...

Power to the people!

I'm so proud of you, Roberto! I was hoping you would give it a try. Now, you could keep your first masterpiece intact, and make a second one to try the next few steps with.


Excellent Idea

After I put my first masterpiece in the gallery, I shall "push the envelope", so to speak, and create a second. If only I had a cool cutting tool like the one you use. But then I would need to raid my son's Elmo BandAids....and he doesn't like to share.


Um, I respectfully recommend that you leave the sharp objects alone. Perhaps your son would be willing to do the cutting for you?


Too Late

Falling into the ways of the typical male, I decided to try turning my new envelope into a mini jotter WITHOUT following your directions. Armed only with a dull scissors, I did a terrible impression of Edward Scissorhands. And now my envelope is but a distant memory (sigh).