Making Mailing Envelopes from Recycled Store Paper Bags

Chriss Smith (Art of Zen Crochet) kindly shared this tutorial for making mailing envelopes from recycled brown paper store bags. (You know, the kind you get at the store when you forget your cloth bags?) These will save you some money and save some trees as well. PLUS, it’s a great way to spend a rainy April afternoon.

Chriss shares:
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 thoroughly 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

…………you 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.

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  1. Thanks for this awesome project! I am excited to put these into circulation!

  2. What a great tutorial! And I can testify to their mail-worthy-ness. I’ve received several of these from Chriss with their gorgeous contents safe and sound, and I’m nearly all the way across the country :)

  3. Upcycled Stuff says:

    Great post…I make many types of envelopes as well. Magazine pages are a great alternative to buying craft paper, and the cover of most magazines are quite sturdy. Slap on a simple shipping label to provide white space for writing.

    • That sounds like a great idea for a tutorial to me! If you ever put one together, I’d love to feature it and your shop in a post!


      • Sounds like a good tutorial to me too! I have a ton of magazines for my art pieces. I received an Etsy delivery the other day, that was in an envelope made out of an old calendar page. I saved it to try to figure it out. :)

  4. Great article! I make my shipping boxes from cardboard I save from every single delivery we get to this house. It’s not especially easy to bend cardboard to your will, but I save a lot of money, and recycle at the same time. Win, win. :)

  5. Thanks, Bee. Good luck! Let us know how it works for you!

  6. Love this article. I can’t wait to try to make my own now! Thanks!