How to Make an Origami Gift Bag & Purse

Written by meg campbell
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How to Make an Origami Gift Bag & Purse
With a few precise folds, you can make an origami bag. (Paper steamship image by Stepanov from

Origami can be a handmade gift, or even a way to personalise a store-bought present with delicately folded cards, decorations or wrapping. An origami gift bag can double as a decorative basket or purse, holding anything from little origami flowers or cranes, to small candies and gift cards. An origami gift bag or purse can be made in almost any reasonable size--from very small to large enough to use as a table centrepiece--it all depends on the size of paper you use.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • 1 8-inch square piece of origami paper
  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • Scissors
  • Tape

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  1. 1

    Lay the square of paper on the table, one side toward you (not a point toward you). Fold the paper in half, bottom edge to top edge. Crisp the fold.

  2. 2

    Use the ruler to measure 1 inch in on the right side of the rectangle. Mark the spot with the pencil, and use the ruler to draw a line, parallel to the short side, from top to bottom. Cut along the line, removing the inch of paper from the rectangle. This strip of paper will become the handle of the bag. Set it aside.

  3. 3

    Fold the right bottom corner up to the midline of the rectangle, so that the edge of the lifted corner is horizontal. Crisp the fold. Unfold it, and fold it back in the opposite direction, reinforcing the crease. Flatten it back out. Repeat on the left side. Folding in both directions is a way to make the crease more flexible for the next fold.

  4. 4

    Tuck the two triangles through your folds up and into the rectangle, where they will flatten out. Your shape now looks like a rectangle with its two bottom corners missing.

  5. 5

    Turn the paper over so that the folded edge (with the tucked corners) is at the top, and the long open edge is toward you. Lift the front flap only, bringing the left (short) edge of paper to the centre of the form. Crisp the fold. Repeat on the right side. Flip the paper over, and repeat these steps on the other side. Make sure to crisp the folds. Set aside momentarily.

  6. 6

    Take the strip of paper that was cut off earlier. Lay it horizontally on the table in front of you. If needed, you can measure and mark the lengthwise centre line of the strip (1/2 inch up). Fold the bottom edge to the half-line, making sure the edge stays parallel to the top edge. Repeat with the top edge, folding it down to meet the centre line. The two edges should now meet at the centre line. Crisp the folds.

  7. 7

    Place the basket portion back in front of you on the table, with the folded, closed edge (bottom of the bag) toward you. Center the handle strip (folded side up) beneath the open front flaps and on top of the next layer of paper, so that the short edge of the strip is aligned with the open edge of the top of the purse or bag. Pinch the front flaps, strip, and next layer of paper together (this is one side of the bag). Make two horizontal folds inward and down toward the bottom of the bag, effectively securing one side of the handle. The top edge of this finished side should run square with the tops of the two triangle folds made earlier.

  8. 8

    Lift the strip of paper up and lay it vertically, going away from you, folded side now down. Make a crisp fold in the handle where it touches the side of the bag. Flip the entire form over. Lift and bring the handle toward you, and place it, centred, under the two front flaps of the basket. From here, repeat the rest of step 7, making two horizontal folds inward and down toward the bottom of the bag, effectively securing the other side of the handle. Crisp all the folds, and crisp the second handle (located on the inside) into the bag. You may wish to reinforce this side with a small piece of tape to the inside of the bag, where the handle connects.

  9. 9

    Lay the bag on the table, bottom toward you. Fold the bottom up until the bottom edge meets the lower points on the folded triangles. Crisp the fold, then unfold it and smooth it out. Open the bag or purse and flatten out the bottom.

Tips and warnings

  • Remember that the larger the bag or purse is, the less supportive the bottom will be to the objects it holds. A larger origami gift bag is less functional as a container, and more functional as a decorative piece. The ideal origami purse size (in terms of strength and some size) comes from a square sheet (8 by 8 inches) of origami paper.

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