Handmade Baskets Using Paper Bags

Everyone I know has brown paper bags stuffed into the nooks and crannies of their pantry. If your household is supporting too many landfills, it's time to think about the environment. A good way to recycle is to clean out the pantry and reuse things you thought were not good for much. I recently tackled the paper bag situation in my house, and want to share what I learned by teaching you how to make a handmade basket using paper bags.

The finished product is not only easy to make, but very practical and useful. What's more, it's recycling at its finest. And, if you can fold a paper bag, you already possess the talent required to make this item.

Necessary materials:

  • 3 grocery bags per basket
  • 1 piece of corrugated cardboard the exact size of the bottom of the bag
  • hot glue gun
  • scissors
  • crayons, candle or block wax

Using my instructions, baskets made out of simple grocery bags can be created in about a half hour.

Step One - Cut a cardboard piece to fit the bottom of a grocery bag. Corrugated cardboard works best as it reinforces the bottom and keeps the "basket" from absorbing moisture through the bottom. (The last thing you'd want is to have the bottom of your handmade basket rip open or sag when you place something hefty inside. Whenever using paper bags to make a basket, reinforce the base with a layer of cardboard .)

Step Two - Gather three brown paper grocery sacks. (Pick clean bags that are free from tears and, if possible, have little or no advertisements on them.)

Step Three - Brown Paper Bag Number One:

  • Open the grocery sack.
  • Carefully fold down (approximately four times), so a "cuff" appears on the outside of the bag. Once you have folded the sides down far enough, the height of the bag should be reduced to the height of the cuff.
  • For crisp neat folds, carefully press the fold or cuff with an iron on medium heat. (Bag will scorch or burn if heat setting is too high. Use care.)
  • Glue the corrugated cardboard to the bottom of the bag.
  • Set paper bag aside.

Step Four - Brown Paper Bag Number Two:

  • Follow the same directions, but this time fold the sides down three times. Your end product will be a six inch bag, including the three inch cuff.
  • Press the hot iron along the top "fold" of the paper bag, making nice even creases.
  • Set aside.

Step Five - Brown Paper Bag Number Three

  • Cut the bottom of the bag off, being careful to leave the rest of the bag in one piece.
  • Discard.
  • Leaving intact, flatter the top of the bag.
  • Cut it in half - side to side. (You will have two pieces. Folding one piece at a time, fold, as you did with Bags One and Two. This time make two inch folds. (These two pieces will be the handles.)
  • Run a little hot glue between the folds in each handle to hold the paper down.
  • Set aside.

Step Six - Putting it all together.

  • For a basket that will hold up better and last longer - coat with a layer of wax. (Rub a piece of household wax or candle over all exposed surfaces - included both sides of the handles, and the inside and outside of the both bags. If you use crayons you might want to decorate with a design.)
  • Insert Bag Number Two inside of Bag Number One. The cuff on Bag Number Two should overlap the cuff on Bag Number One.
  • Dab glue between the two cuffs to secure the bags together.
  • Place both handles under the basket and glue to the corrugated cardboard bottom. The handles should be placed approximately three inches from each end of the basket. Not too wide apart, not too close together. Experiment with what works best for you. (Or for a different look, place the handles between the two bags and glue in place.)
  • Run a line of glue on the inside of each handle and press the handle to the bottom and sides of the basket. For added security, staple each of the four handles to the basket.

Hints:

  • Now that you know how to make a handmade basket using paper bags, if you want to make your basket a little fancier, instead of plain wax, use crayons and decorate the bags, or have your children do the honors.
  • Additional ways to keep brown paper bags out of landfills is to use them to keep weeds at bay in your garden. Just cut the bags open and place between the rows.
  • Another recycling idea: use grocery bags to create great gift baskets. Gifts from your kitchen, flowerbed cuttings, and garden bounty would be wonderful contents for a basket made out of paper bags.
  • If you opt not to wax, the finished project can also be sprayed with varnish or spray paint. (Use care, however, some sprays such as hair spray will repel moisture, but remain tacky. When possible, use only environmentally safe products.)
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