How to make a paper carrier bag

People use paper bags for groceries, gifts and other items they wish to transport by hand. Using paper bags is better than using plastic bags because the paper can be recycled later. The bag can even be constructed from recycled paper in the first place. With two sheets of newspaper, some glue, string and other basic supplies, you can create a paper carrier bag that will have many uses. The project takes only about an hour or so, and it is an ideal activity for children who are bored on a rainy day or who are learning about recycling.

Put glue on one piece of paper along the long side. Put the glue from the edge inward by 3.75 cm (1 1/2 inches). Place the other sheet of paper on top of the glued one to line it up evenly. Press the edge that has the glue firmly so that the paper sheets stick to each other.

Position the glued sheets so that the glued edge is at the top. Fold this top edge down by 3.75 cm (1 1/2 inches). Crease the fold and unfold.

Apply glue to one side of the card stock strips and place them above this crease. Place the end of one strip 2.5 cm (1 inch) from the left edge. Place the end of the other strip 2.5 cm (1 inch) from the right edge. Make sure the bottom of the card stock strips line up evenly with the crease. Press down to secure the strips. Apply glue to the top of the strips and fold the paper flap down over them to glue it in place.

Fold the left side toward the middle, creating a 2.5 cm (1 inch) flap. Repeat for the right side. These flaps should fold over the ends of the card stock strips at the top. Crease the folds and unfold.

Fold the left side toward the middle, creating a 15 cm (6 inch) flap. Crease the fold. Fold the right side toward the middle, creating a 7.5 cm (3 inch) flap. Crease the fold. The flaps should overlap 2.5 cm (1 inch) at the creases previously created.

Insert the left flap between the layers of the right flap and glue in place. Apply glue on both sides of the left flap.

Stick your hand through the bag that is now open on both ends. Slightly roll it to one side and make a sharp crease parallel to the existing creases and 8.75 cm (3 1/2 inches) from one of the existing creases. Press the bag flat, creating a fourth crease. The four parallel creases form the four corners of the bag.

Bring two adjacent corners together. Use corners that are 8.75 cm (3 1/2 inches) apart. Tuck the paper inside as you bring the corners together and press, creating a pleated side. Repeat for the opposite two corners. Flatten the bag with the sides tucked in. Crease all the folds so it lays completely flat.

Fold up the bottom edge 6.25 cm (2 1/2 inches). This is the edge opposite where you glued the card stock in the flap. Unfold and fold it to the other side along the same crease.

Unfold and open the bag so that it lays on one short side, allowing you to fold the bottom edges. Fold the flaps along long sides so that they overlap in the middle. Tuck the flaps along the short sides inside of the bag as you do this, creasing triangular sections near each corner so that the paper forms a flat bottom. Glue these flaps in place. The bag is now complete except for the handles.

Make the handles. Punch two holes in the middle of the top of each long side. Punch the holes through the card stock flaps. Knot one end of a piece of string with a knot large enough so that it will not fit through the hole. Thread the unknotted end through one hole and then through the other hole. Knot this end in the same manner so that when the handle is grasped, the knots do not slip through the holes. Repeat for the other handle.


The measurements presented here make it easy to form a carrier bag out of two tabloid-sized sheets of newspaper. However, any size paper can be used.

Remember to also change the size of the card stock strips if you change the size of the paper.

Butcher paper or craft paper also make sturdy carrier bags. Using gift wrap makes a good gift bag idea.

You can decorate the paper with markers, paint, stamps or pencils before beginning.

Things You'll Need

  • 43 by 28 cm (17 by 11 inches) paper sheets
  • White glue
  • 19 by 1.25 cm (7 1/2 by 1/2 inches) card
  • Ruler
  • String
  • Hole punch
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About the Author

Karren Doll Tolliver holds a Bachelor of English from Mississippi University for Women and a CELTA teaching certificate from Akcent Language School in Prague. Also a photographer, she records adventures by camera, combining photos with journals in her blogs. Her latest book, "A Travel for Taste: Germany," was published in 2015.