How to Make a Scrapbook Paper Gift Bag
A Beautiful Bag Is Part of the Gift
Like my other Square Gift Bag instructions, this Small, Tall Gift Bag design is made from a single sheet of scrapbook paper. This design can be a little trickier, but definitely worth it.
In a past life, when I was designing and selling jewelry, I gave a lot of thought to how I could give that value-added touch to the pieces I sold. These bags gave me an attention-grabbing way to send customers off with a product and a bag they could use to give the gift in (if it was a gift for someone else). I could make the bags for seasonal or occasional purposes - holidays, new baby, wedding, and so on. Because I was busy making my jewelry, these bags had to be quick to make, use minimal supplies, and be both sturdy and beautiful.
So choose some paper - whether for a special occasion or just because it fits your mood - and let's make a small, tall gift bag together!
All photos on this page are my own.
Don't forget refill packs for your adhesive roller. Once you start making these gift bags you won't want to stop.
I use the 1/16 inch hand punch for lots of things from bags to tags and more. It's a great tool with lots of different uses!
A ruler is such a basic tool, I want one in every room.
Let's Make a Bag
What You Need to Get Started
One 12x12 sheet of scrapbook paper
2 9-inch lengths of ribbon
1/16-inch Hole punch
My pictures use single-sided paper so you can better see what I'm doing, but I really like using two-sided paper for bags if possible. The color inside gives the bag an extra boost of beauty and flare.
A Selection of Scrapbook Paper - Check out these pretty options from Amazon
Holiday gifts deserve a special paper that celebrates the season!
STEP 1: Some Lines for Good Measure
Taking a few moments to measure at the beginning will save you immeasurable (pun intended) time later. So, using your rule and pencil on the "wrong" side of the paper (this will be the inside of your bag), draw lines at 1/2" on two opposite edges of the paper. Then choose one edge and measure in 3-1/2" and draw a line there. The lines are pictured here to help you visualize where the lines will go.
Later on, you will use these lines as guides for where to fold or cut. When I first created this bag, I did my measuring in the middle of my assembly, and it was NOT easy. Live and learn...
STEP 2: Totally Tubular
Time to make your sheet of scrapbook paper into one big tube. To do this, glue along one edge of paper on the wrong side. Roll tube and seal seam by securing the two edges with about a 1/4" overlap.
For the next step, I need you to use your imagination... picture the round end of the tube as a clock face. Imagine the times with 12:00 at the top, 6:00 at the bottom and all the times in between. Now...
Lay the tube on the table so the seam is pointing at about 4:00. Press the tube flat. Open tube again and turn it to where the first creases you made meet in the middle. Match up the creases and press flat. When you open the tube this time, you'll have a square instead of round tube. The seam is on one side of the square tube.
Here's what your tube looks like after you've "square-ified" it.
STEP 3: Cut a Little, Fold a Little
Remember when you measured and drew those lines at the beginning of this bag-making process? This is when that front-end work starts to pay off. Turn your square tube so that you are looking at the end with only one line at 1/2". Using your scissors, cut down at each corner, stopping at the 1/2" line. You have created 4 "flaps," one one each side of the bag.
Run a line of adhesive along the inside of one of the flaps. Fold it down inside the bag on the 1/2" line, pressing it firmly in place. Repeat this step for each of the flaps to create a finished look at the top of the bag. This also provides some reinforcement for later on when you add handles.
Note: You may want to consider adding scrap paper reinforcements like on the Square Gift Bag.
A Few More Paper Craft Tools - Optional tools that can really personalize your project
A bone folder is especially useful if you start to experiment with heavier weights of paper. It will save your fingers!
Sometimes, I "cheat" and use double-sided tape instead of adhesive. Just keep in mind the 1/2 inch width of this tape vs. the width of some of your 1/4 inch tabs.
Consider adding a decorative touch to the top of your bag.
Another decorative possibility for the top edge of your bag... Leave out the reinforcements for light gifts so this edge sticks up or fold in for a lovely finish inside.
STEP 4: Cutting Flaps
At the bottom end of the tube, use your scissors to cut along each corner to the 3-1/2" line, giving you 4 longer flaps. Now... each flap needs a different treatment, so just take them one at a time and refer to the picture here if you need help.
Flap 1: Cut it completely off at the 3-1/2" line.
Flap 2: (to the left or right of the flap you just removed) Cut off the end at the 1/2" line.
Flaps 3 and 4: Don't do anything to these flaps yet
STEP 5: Folding & Securing the Bottom
Flap 1: Remember, this flap is gone. It's important to note though that the opening you made by removing this flap is where the tab from Flap 4 will go when you get to that step.
Flap 3: (Note: This is across from Flap 2, which is the shortest flap remaining) Fold on the 3-1/2" and 1/2" lines. This will be the first layer of the bottom. Check your folds to make sure the bottom will lie flat while the tab fits securely against the inner bottom edge of the bag. Then open your folds and run adhesive along the design side of the tab. Fold the flap in and press the tab securely against the inside of the bag.
Flap 2: You may need to trim this one a bit if it's too long for the bottom of the bag. Fold it over at the 3-1/2" line. Then open it back up, and run adhesive around the perimeter of the inside of the flap. Stick it to the underside of Flap 3.
Flap 4: (Note: this is the 3-1/2 inch flap across from Flap 1, which you removed) Fold on the 3-1/2" and 1/2" lines to create the bottom of the bag and a tab to close off the far side of the bag. Test the tab to make sure the bottom will lay flat and the tab will fit neatly in the slot. Now open the flap back up and run adhesive in two places - around the perimeter of the inside of the bottom so it will stick to the underside of Flap 2 and on the outside of the tab, which will stick to the inside of the bag.
TIP: If you have trouble getting the tab on Flap 4 into the slot, trim the corners off the tab. It slips in easier and can't be seen from the outside of the bag.
All this business with the flaps and tabs gets easier with each bag. I promise!!! And it will be well worth it when you get that look from someone as they ask "Did you really make the bag too?"
STEP 6: Finishing Touches
Use your 1/16 inch hole punch to make 2 holes each at the top of the front and back of the bag. I usually make the seam side of the bag the back. Thread the ribbon through the holes and knot the ends inside. Depending on the thickness of your handles, you may need to make a few holes side by side, but don't make too many holes or the knot you make in your ribbon (or cord or whatever you use for handles) will pull through.
Then, create some creases in the sides of the bag to give it that "bag look" by bringing the front and back of the bag together, forcing the sides in. Fold hard creases about 2/3 of the way down (picture a paper lunch sack).
Voila! You have a beautiful, personalized gift bag.
After you're comfortable with making this gift bag and you're ready to personalize things a bit more, here are some variations you can try:
- I recommend ribbon for the handles in these instructions, but don't feel limited. Maybe you have satin or cotton cord in the house. Or string, decorative wire, or even just shoelaces. Use what you have on hand if it fits the look of your bag.
- Experiment with paper. Cardstock can make a heck of a sturdy bag and be really fun if you want to print, paint, or stamp your own design.
- To make this bag rectangular (see the picture below), leave out the 3-1/2" measurement in STEP 1 and change the "clock time" for your initial folds to make it rectangular. When you get to STEP 4, you'll just have to make your cuts appropriate for the width of your bag. You can figure it out. I have faith in you!
When you are ready, try it as a rectangle.
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