A Stationery Basket


For a bit now I’ve been thinking of creating a stationery basket.  Writing.  With pen and paper.  A letter mailed, and received.

Now, don’t misunderstand – I enjoy email.  I do.  And I have no intention of ceasing my email communications!  Sometimes, a quick emailed note is just the thing!  But that doesn’t mean I can’t also take time to be thoughtful in chosen words and send a lovely handwritten note.

And penmanship.  sigh.  How my penmanship has eroded over the years.  I simply do.not.take.the.time.  But I could.

And, I confess, some of my motivation is purely visual.  I miss pretty paper.  And pens.  🙂  Ok.  It’s really ALL about the pretty paper and pens.  LOL!

So, I decided to build a simple stationery basket, one in which I could gather all my letter writing supplies so that everything needed is right at my fingertips.  And here is the result….

Pretty, no?  Tangerine and Turquoise.  It’s a terribly cheery combination.

The large oilcloth envelopes that stand up in back (there are two of them) are so useful.  One contains a nice collection of blank note cards I have, and the other holds several different types of full size stationery, of which a set of Marjolein Bastin stationery is prized.  I like how they don’t need to be removed at all from the basket – I just unzip and remove what I need.

The smaller oilcloth envelopes toward the front of the basket are nice for containing smaller collections of note cards…

…like this birthday box set from Saints Galore.

And I’m just swooning over pretty tapes.  I’ve been using them EVERYWHERE!   I was initially concerned that their sticky-value (is that an actual technical evaluation term?) would not be good.  I thought they’d just peel up anywhere I put them.  Nope.  They have a great *grab* on this oilcloth, and I’ve put some on shelves, under labels, on clipboards.  Lots of places.  They stick very well!  And they’re not too sticky – easy to remove when needed.  They’re oh-so-pretty on gift wrapping projects using simple butcher paper.  When I saw them, I instantly wondered how’d they do as a backing for a label.  I think the fun colors add a little punch to the tangerine oilcloth envelopes.

Yes.  I know the amount of tape sticking out from behind the label is random.  No.  I don’t mind.

How about a few resources and then some ideas I had for making your own stationery basket?Resources used:  (using the picture just above and moving from front to back)

  • The first four small oilcloth envelopes are from Sarah Jane’s.  I wanted to sew my own, but oilcloth is so expensive and I couldn’t find the pretty patterns I liked for reasonable prices.  Each envelope is backed in coordinating orange and white gingham and has a flap that closes with velcro.
  • The two large oilcloth zipper pouches are also from Sarah Jane’s.  Very handy and useful!  The zipper opening makes accessing the contents of these pouches easy.  These also have a coordinating gingham print on the inside.
  • The two white envelopes behind the oilcloth pouches are actually tyvek envelopes.  Initially I planned on using all tyvek envelopes, but I found I needed something that would hold/expand a little more to contain larger collections.  I love tyvek for its durability though!  You can find tyvek envelopes online as well as at office supply stores.
  • The clipboard came from an etsy store I love – box64studios.  Who doesn’t love etsy?  What can’t you find there?  I got swept up last night just searching through all the pretty things I found after a simple search on “robin’s egg blue.”
  • The labels came from my brother p-touch 1290 labelmaker.
  • The turquoise masking tape also came from an etsy shop.
  • The pens are from this Pilot Precise collection.
  • The basket that holds it all – a Peterboro of course!

Stationery Resources:

Ideas for gathering your own stationery collection:
Many of the items for my stationery basket I already had here, although I did splurge on a few items using Christmas money.  As I was putting it together I had a few other ideas for making a stationery collection that I thought I’d share.

  • Decide on a container for your stationery – a nice large basket from a thrift store works well and so do those photo boxes you can find from the craft store.  You might have a wooden fruit crate around that would make an ideal stationery collection container.  Another idea is to use a sturdy cardboard box and just cover it with pretty gift wrapping paper.  Use Mod Podge to add some durability to the wrapping paper on the outside.
  • Contain your collection of cards and stationery – You can make your own pretty envelopes using cardstock and pretty paper you have on hand.  You could also just take simple large paper envelopes (mailing envelopes would be a good size) and add a touch of pretty paper to the center along with a label.
  • Find a nice pen that you enjoy writing with and include it in your container.  Forbid, under penalty of lifetime dish-duty, the removal or use of that pen by any member of the family other than yourself.
  • Include a clipboard or another writing surface with your collection.  It’s super helpful if everything you need is right there and you can just walk to the couch or the kitchen table with your collection and everything needed is there.
  • Keep your addresses nearby.  I have my address book on my laptop, but if yours is in an index card file or an address book, include that in your container.

Happy hand-written-note-writing everyone!!

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  1. Beautiful! Inspiring! Actually you've got me thinking about this for children and their neglected letter writing skills. I love emails too but.. there is nothing like snail mail, and sooo rare these days.

  2. This is so nice Jenn! Oh to find the time to write hand-written notes! Maybe something as lovely as this would inspire me to sit down and make the time!

  3. Very timely for me, Jen! I was just trying to figure out a good way to organize my stationery, as it's in a terrible disarray and I can't find anything! The only thing I would do differently is not choose tangerine! Cheery, yes, but I never been a fan of orange except to eat them. I can't copycat everything you do! 😉

  4. Oh how I love this! I have been doing more letter writing this year, but everything is all jumbled up in my desk, not begging to be used like yours!

  5. Thank you all for your kind comments! This was a really fun and easy project to put together! So simple – and it's really nice to grab my basket and sit down to write a note. It's all right there!

    The tangerine is really a surprise to me as well! LOL!!! I have to tell you…I'm more of a blue gal…sometimes shades of green….love pink….soft yellows….even deep reds. But tangerine? Not usually. Isn't that funny? I found that turquoise tape and I wanted something a little different, something contrasting…so I chose the tangerine toile oilcloth to go with it…and I like it. I still think it's funny because tangerine is not a color I tend to gravitate naturally toward either! But, it's fun to step outside of my natural color comfort zone sometimes and be a little daring, a little more edgy than normal. Safer to do with a stationery basket than on my kitchen walls!!! LOL!!!!

  6. Oh Kimmie!!! I was thinking of you when I wrote…you know how we often speak wistfully of wanting to write to each other more…handwritten notes on cheery paper! And now…you must know that I have absolutely NO EXCUSE not to write!! NO EXCUSE!!!

    AND….I just love feedly!! Love it! It's so pretty! You knew I'd like it – thanks for showing me!

  7. Jenn said:
    >> I do hope you know I was teasing you, Jen. << Of course!!! 🙂 I just find it very surprising that I even chose tangerine myself, and when you commented I thought I'd share how it's not a usual color for me!! And I chose it anyway. Isn't that crazy? But of course – you must choose a color/pattern for your stationery basket that is inspiring FOR YOU!! Happy labeling in your pantry this morning!! I'm thrilled just thinking about it! It will probably NOT surprise you to know that I was labeling in my pantry yesterday as well! **JOY**

  8. I have to quit reading your blog. First it was the Peterboro baskets. Then it was the nature book that featured Partridge as a contributor. Now it's envelopes. There goes the last of the Christmas money!

  9. Jen, I am so inspired! I am placing a new bookshelf in my dining room and on it will go a sationary basket! So organzized and lovely. I may even have my oldest son bring me back some of those tapes and oilcloth zipper pouches!

  10. Very pretty!! I have a stationary box that I keep stocked with much of the same things. I began using it a couple of years ago for my son to practice writing letters. It's a great way to instill letter writing (an almost lost art!) in my kids!!


  11. How might I make my own oilcloth envelope with a clear see-thru window? I am VERY visual and need to see what is inside…
    Any ideas??
    I am thinking I want to use this kind of thing for my Montessori cards and timeline cards. The plastic zip lock baggies get so hard to see through after awhile.

  12. Why don't you just put your stationary in hanging files in a filing cabinet?

    Take out a piece when you want to write, take it to your table or desk and write.

    I don't understand … I don't understand at all. Seems like a lot of work, space and extra cost to store paper & card.

    Confused Male
    (Husband to a commenter above … sympathies for my wife!)

  13. Hi Anonymous/Confused Male/Husband to commenter above!

    You've made a wonderful observation! A hanging file system would be just as workable!

    Now…on the space issue, it would only take up less space if you ALREADY HAVE the file cabinet. Otherwise, a small basket of stationery supplies would take up less of a footprint, especially since it can rest atop another horizontal surface. I'm assuming you must have a file cabinet already or you wouldn't mention it – excellent use of your existing resources! I, however do not have an extra file cabinet – thus the basket. 🙂

    As to costing less…yes, if as already observed, the file cabinet, and hanging file accoutrement were already in existence in your home, it would be quite cost effective to go that route. If, however, one needed to acquire all the above items, I would guess that there could likely be more frugal ways to organize a collection like this.

    I already had the simple basket though. And the stationery. And Christmas money.

    Now…about understanding – I don't suppose that's necessary really. It was just an idea…shared. I'm so glad you've come up with a different, yet equally workable one!! I happen to like pretty. I'm a girl. What can I say? I happen to need something like this to be out, visually inviting, organized and easily accessible…or I forget to use it. Thus the idea that I shared.

    Thanks for taking the time to comment. Happy file-folder hanging to you and your wife!

  14. Just wanted to reply to the confused male. Besides being visually pretty, it also provides a VISUAL reminder to use the stationery. If bad habits (like always using email or the phone) are ensuing, and the stationery isn't out (in a pretty organized way), then there is less of a physical reminder and motivation. Jen's option is one way, but there are loads of ways. I find even my children use things more if I arrange them in a way that is pleasing to the eye, but also at eye-level. Hidden away makes it remain so!

    And Jen's ideas have been helpful for me — I don't need to replicate or go out and buy all those things, but they have helped me see what I can use around my house that will make things more visual, but organized.

  15. I'm finally getting to your question, Donna Marie! And I do have an idea for you!!!

    Donna Marie asked:
    >> How might I make my own oilcloth envelope with a clear see-thru window? I am VERY visual and need to see what is inside…
    Any ideas?? << YES!!! You can purchase inexpensive yardage of clear vinyl at the fabric store. You can usually find a roll of it for using as a clear tablecloth cover. They make varying thicknesses – buy the bulkiest your machine can sew. If it were me, I'd make the front out of oilcloth and make the back the clear vinyl, just because the front will need a piece of velcro to hold the envelope closed. Making the back clear means you'd have one side totally unobstructed by anything else and it would be easier to see the contents. Sounds like a great way to store Montessori and timeline cards, Donna Marie! Thanks for the idea! 🙂

  16. Oh Jen, I am glad I can give YOU an idea for a change! You are always inspiring me. Please keep doing so, you make my heart lighter! :o) I was thinking of the clear vinyl last night and musing about it a bit. If I get around do doing this, I will let you know how it worked out!

  17. How funny! I was just thinking this about penmanship myself. I moved from all my friends in Switzerland when I was eleven years old and wrote many, many letters. I always had beautiful stationary. I have been missing it lately. My penmanship is also…lacking. We always had ink fountain pens. I was thinking of taking up calligraphy, just for the sake of improving my hand. Anyways, this tote is such a great idea! I bet I could make one up with manila envelopes, definitely not as cute, but still practical.

  18. Thanks, Jen! I have just been itching to write again. My grandmother is in Switzerland and she enjoys my letters, but it's been too long since I've sent her one. I just set up my writing desk and organized it again, and now I'm going to check out your stationary resources, because I've found it incredibly difficult to find beautiful stationary these days.

  19. How do you like that I posted twice and FORGOT I had already posted? Well, here's my THIRD post. I am looking for 8.5 x 11 pages, or similar to that size, but not the 5×8 paper. I want something lined and something that I can write on with an ink fountain pen. I just browsed all the sites, but I can't find it! I will keep looking, but please write back if you know a place.

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