Wednesday, June 2, 2010

DIY: Repurposed Brown Paper Bag Envelopes

It's Environmental Week here in Canada, and what better way to celebrate than to share a recycling Project!

I have had Great success with these envelopes.  I find them easy to make, I am recycling (Imagine that?) and boy do they  save me some $$. 
 Please read the instructions thoroghly before beginning.


Ruler         white glue
scissors     old craft paint brush
Brown paper bags (use good quality)
Rotary cutter and cutting board optional

You should be able to get 1 Larger envelope and at least 2 small envelopes from a standard Brown Paper Bag from the Grocery Store.

Take your Brown Paper Bag and Unfold it.  Rather than marking with a pen you will be using the folds in the bag as your cutting lines.

Lay your bag on one of its sides and carefully following     
the fold lines on the side cut out the side only, leaving the
bottom intact.  Repeat for the opposite side.

You will have something that looks like this.

Now lay the Long piece flat, and keeping what was the bottom of the bag against your work surface,  i will be referring to this as the "back" throughout this Tutorial.  (I had to use a smaller piece in order to fit it into the picture, but the theory is the same).......

 ................fold up the front as shown,leaving a 2.5 cm (1") flap on the top of the back piece. 
Fold the back piece at the top over the front, making the fold line up with the top front piece.........

..................Open up your piece of paper, working along the sides 
and fold a 2.5 cm (1") Flap on each side.                                              

With the piece facing you vertically.  Following the folds you made earlier will now need to carefully cut along the sides only up the the first fold, ( this fold separates the front from the back of the envelope.  Trim 2.5 cm (1") strip on each side of the bag as shown.

Open up you piece and turn your bag so the  Top flap is facing you.  You will now need to cut the corner off  on each side as shown.                


Now is a great time to apply some white glue
to what was the bottom of the bag to reinforce
the folds there.

Fold the top flap up over the back piece.

Put a nice line of glue on each side flap.  Spread the glue carefully with your brush.

  Now fold up the side flaps and press firmly into place.

 Let your envelopes dry over night!  I prefer to seal the tops with some packing tape as I pack my with envelopes with materials such as fabrics or crocheted items.

Decorate with stamps, markers or however you see fit.  :)
Just some notes:  I don't often like to use Bubble envelopes, but I think you could easily glue in some pieces of bubble wrap before gluing the sides down.  I also thought you could buy some Craft Paper that I have seen in the Post office and use this to make envelopes, should you prefer to.   I hope that you enjoyed my Tutorial, this is my first.  If you  have any questions or comments please post them here and I will gladly answer them.                             


  1. Great tutorial! Paper grocery bags are so much better than plastic in every way. I wish more stores would go back to using them - for when we forget our cloth bags, of course!

  2. Nicely written - thanks for sharing!

  3. exceptionally well illustrated !

  4. fab post, Chriss! lovin' the reduce, reuse, recycle sentiment ♥

  5. This is a great tutorial Chriss! Not only do you get mailers for little to no money, but it's a wonderful way to give a second life to paper bags!

  6. Great idea, Chriss! Thanks for this post!

  7. Thank you!!

    I have been wanting to post this for a while as I have been using these envelopes for a few months. They are especially great for when I need something odd sized. And the Gals at the Postal Counter Love them?!!? Imagine that!

  8. Such a great idea. You definitely are the greenest member of our Oh Canada! Team Chriss.

  9. Terrific idea! Reuses grocery bags and eliminates all the waste involved in the manufacture of new envelopes!

  10. Great tutorial - thanks for sharing !